As our Prime Minister and Opposition Leader continue to struggle under the weight of negative approval ratings perhaps the time has come to draw guidance from the humble hagfish.
Tomorrow is official Hagfish Day, a day to celebrate the ‘beauty of ugly’ and make the point it’s not just cute and cuddly creatures that deserve our attention.
Haikus are written, songs are sung, school kids are encouraged to learn more about the slimy deep-sea scavengers.
It’s not that our political leaders are slimy scavengers. Hang on… it’s not that our political leaders bear any physical similarities that make Hagfish Day relevant; but their pursuit of popularity does end up reinforcing all the negatives that drive our disdain with politics.
With the carbon debate set to hit the pointy end of Federal Parliament this week, get set for more character analysis of our beleaguered Prime Minister.
With her public persona now inextricably tied to her decision to accept that her approach to carbon pricing amounts to a broken promise, it’s worth looking into what’s fuelling the ‘Juliar’ phenomenon.
After all – Politician Lies – there’s hardly a headline in that right?
Q. Which statement best reflects your view:
|Total||Vote Labor||Vote Lib/Nat||Vote Greens|
|When a politician makes a statement or commitment they should stick to it no matter what.||17%||12%||21%||16%|
|As situations change, it is reasonable that politicians change their positions.||47%||65%||36%||61%|
|Politicians almost always lie – it’s naive to think otherwise.||36%||23%||43%||23%|
With popular culture now having entered the prime ministerial bedroom, it’s hardly stepping over the line to offer a few suggestions on what our besieged leader should be getting out at the Yarralumla video shop.
While the poll numbers look like the stuff of a horror movie the PM can draw inspiration from an entire genre of survivalist films that dramatise real-life encounters with oblivion and celebrate the way the human spirit can rise to any challenge.
Most of these movies start with a moment of sunshine and light before fate strikes and the odds begin to stack up against the protagonist. So it is with this week’s Essential Report.
The future of the Gillard Government lies in its ability to untangle one of the most diabolical knots seen in recent Australian political history.
From a distance it just seems like an ungodly mess, but look closer and the carbon pricing scheme is a series of public policy SNAFUs all snagged around each other, that pull themselves tighter with each attempt to free up a strand.
Talk about national leadership and the line leads to pre-election lies; talk about science and the deniers claim two sides to a story that has long been settled; talk about investment in renewables and the fears of workers in carbon-exposed industries ring out.
This is indeed one hell of a knot. And the killer at the core of this tangle is the way talk of household compensation actually seems to fuel rising anxiety around cost of living pressures.
People are tiring of the gruelling death struggle that federal politics has become and looking back wistfully to a time when the caucuses did not have blood on their hands.
This week’s Essential Report shows that voters are ready to jump into the Bloodbath Time Machine and return to a time when Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd ruled the political stage like two over-achievers at study camp.
2009 was a more civilised time, when everything had an acronym, the ETS, the GFC, the RRT, the UNHCR and the new PM had convinced the nation that government could address all the problems that had been written down on butcher’s paper at the 2020 Summit.
Pollsters are regularly accused of treating politics like a sporting contest, so given there is no fresh data over Easter it’s time to indulge our inner footy fantasy.
Easter is bit like quarter time in a big game, the key contests are developing, both sides are giving us glimpses of their respective strengths and weaknesses while individual performances are coming under the microscope.
And if you look at the Two-Party Preferred scoreboard Tony Rabbit’s Blues are well ahead of Real Julia’s Reds after a scrappy start to a quarter that was ultimately dominated by one critical play.
The Scoreboard (2PP)
As if dealing with four independent blokes, a Green bloke and a blokey bloke in charge of the Opposition is not enough, now Julia Gillard is developing a problem with blokes outside the Parliament.
Having politely indicated that they were happy with a female Prime Minister in the lead-up to the federal election, this week’s Essential Report picks up sharp moves in the attitudes of the brotherhood.
In the absence of any compelling policy development to explain the surge, we are left with the Bradley Effect, the theory created to explain why an African-American candidate lost the 1982 race for Governor of California despite having a massive lead in the polls.
The details of the Bradley Effect later, first some numbers from this week’s Essential Report.
If political progressives want to stop the ALP from drifting to the Right, energetically backing the decision to move women and children out of immigration detention looks like a good place to start.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Immigration minister Chris Bowen took the new minority government’s first truly brave decision last week, yet all they got was a sullen acceptance from a Left still acting like jilted lovers after the disappointments of the election campaign.
New paradigms notwithstanding, the first week of the 43rd Parliament of Australia has confirmed a continuation of the gladiatorial contests that have characterised Australia’s model of presidential politics.
And that means a confronting truth for both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott: the public’s perceptions of their personal strengths and weakness are central to the success of their respective political projects.
There was a time when character research was a dark art, the province of party focus groups, only dusted of at election time when attacks would be constructed around a candidate’s lack of ticker (read weight) or stubbornness (read age). The modern opinion polling means today it’s all out in the open.
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