As is often the case when I write letters to people, I am writing to you as a representative of a greater group. I think you can guess who this group might be. The Ruddites.
It would be inaccurate for me to say I always read your column in the SMH because I very often don’t. But sometimes I do and I usually find it quite amusing and clever and refreshingly nut-free unlike many other opinion columnists printed frequently in the mainstream press. But the column you published yesterday, on the same topic as The Age’s editorial, was, I’m sorry to say, a shocker. Have you ever heard the phrase: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result? Many of your readers might have forgotten that you wrote on this very same subject – asking the Prime Minister to resign for the good of the country – almost a year ago. Here it is again in case you’ve forgotten. I guess sometimes it’s hard to come up with a new idea for an article every single week. But of all the articles to repeat, this probably had to be the worst subject you could choose, if you wanted to keep your dignity in tact.
The reason I remembered your article from July 2012 was because I wrote about it at the time in my post called ‘The Mobius Strip of Leadership Tensions’. Even then I could never have dreamt that this unrelenting campaign by some Ruddites would still be gnawing away at the stability of Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership, undermining her at every turn. With only 13 weeks to go until the election, I would have wrongly assumed that Ruddites, deep down, just wanted to beat Tony Abbott and would do nothing to damage Gillard’s chances of doing this, even if it meant having to grit their teeth and support a Prime Minister they obviously don’t like. But that’s the thing that really upsets me about your articles Mike – it’s the fact that you think your opinion of Julia Gillard is more important than saving this country from Tony Abbott.
I’m sorry that your favourite Kevin Rudd turned out to be such a lemon. I really am. I liked him too! He saved us from another term of Howard, and his success in protecting the economy from the GFC should always be applauded. I’m sorry that you were unnerved by a change to the natural order of things when, instead of a blue tie, we got a female Prime Minister, our very first one. I’m sorry you have such trouble coming to terms with life under a female Prime Minister – yes she doesn’t ‘do TV’ quite the same as Rudd used to but I really feel her policy achievements are more important than her voice, and I’m sorry you don’t too. These policy achievements have just kept coming, despite the media mis-representing this success with constant tales of ‘chaos’ in the minority government. If Gillard had achieved less than Rudd, or even just the same amount, I could understand that you might be disappointed with her performance. But the only performance you seem to care about is her performance in a sound bite – which quite frankly is a juvenile way to judge the success of a politician.
What upsets me the most about your Ruddite campaign is that you are the ones fulfilling the mainstream media’s prophecy that instability in the Labor party will be their ultimate downfall. The instability is caused by you. Sure, it might be trumped up and over-reported in the mainstream press, but you’re fueling this campaign with evidence of the instability, at the same time as you’re saying you’re trying to save the party! No one has ever been saved by this sort of stupidity.
What if you and your Ruddite mates, including Rudd himself, had just sucked it up three years ago and got behind Julia Gillard, instead of white-anting her at every opportunity? What if you’d realised that every time you publically showed disunity in the party, you were contributing to the terrible polls that you then blamed Gillard for as being all her fault? What if you shut up for long enough to understand that your public slaying of our Prime Minister is a stick for every media outlet in the country to beat her with, and all the ammunition the Liberals need as evidence of ‘Labor chaos’, diluting the real facts behind the Prime Minister’s success. What if the electorate sees people who want a progressive government, like you say you do, bad mouthing our progressive Prime Minister, and this is all they hear. Julia bad. Tony good.
Sadly, we will never know what might have been if the Ruddites had got behind the Prime Minister, had been loyal supporters of her progressive government, had championed her cause, had stopped the rumours, stopped the calls for her to resign, stopped the leadership challenges that came to nothing and had stopped being the sideshow that the media so wanted them to be. I don’t think the press would have suddenly become experts on policy, and I know they would never have accurately reported Gillard’s success to their readers. Their vested interests in an Abbott victory would never have allowed this. But I do know one thing. Your behaviour hasn’t helped. And now blaming Gillard for the position the party is in now, sounds to me, very much like bully boys blaming their victim.
I know if we do end up with Abbott as Prime Minister, I will sleep well knowing I didn’t contribute to this end. How about you Mike? How will you live with yourself?