It’s fascinating to see the ‘a-ha’ moment emerge on people’s expressions. The sudden dawning of awareness is akin to an awakening that the face cannot mask. When a young child suddenly grasps a new concept their face becomes a beacon of joy and their smile a ray of light. Similarly, when the direness of a circumstance becomes fully manifested, even well-trained adults lose their poker face.
This is exactly what we are seeing in the Labor Party at the moment. For at least two years they have bluffed themselves into thinking the problems they created would somehow just go away. They convinced themselves that the carbon tax was justified, that class warfare was a winner and that Gillard was a strong leader.
There are many other ‘head in the sand’ moments that have cemented this government’s place as the worst government in the history of the country. A brave few tried to drag the faceless men back onto the path of reality but they were like lambs to the slaughter. Whilst their motivations may have been pure – to get the Labor Party back to an even keel – their alternative leader, Kevin Rudd, was only ever interested in himself. If his supporters became casualties of the union factional bosses, it was a sacrifice he was prepared for them to make as long as he suffered no lasting wounds; hardly a way to engender a lasting covenant of support.
It was apparent to anyone with their ear to the ground that our Prime Minister has lost all respect among the Australian public. Conversations around dinner tables, on sporting fields and in coffee shops aren’t about how poor a government Labor are; they’ve been all about how bad Julia Gillard is. She is seen as hopelessly compromised, shifty, disingenuous and generally not of good character. Some might say that is not a true characterisation of our PM, but that is how she is perceived by the thousands of people I have spoken to in recent months.
This week Labor seem to have caught up with public perception and had that ‘a-ha’ moment. Martin Ferguson has called it quits with a thinly veiled swipe at his once great Party. Laurie Ferguson has suddenly woken up to the problem of illegal boats and spoken publicly about it on the ABC. Joel Fitzgibbon has mocked the Labor ‘polling excuses’ script on national television. Caucus disquiet is growing as backbenchers realise they have been deceived by the faceless men and the noddies bobbing away behind the PM at question time are looking decidedly downcast.
But Labor’s problems are not simply about poor leadership. It is a party that has lost its principle. The modern Labor Party no longer stands for anything except power for power’s sake. It is clear they will say and do anything to obtain power and influence regardless of the cost to others or our country.
Ministers have been caught peddling outright lies, abuse has replaced reason during debate, myths have replaced fact and the result is that our government, in seeking to fool the electorate, have only succeeded in belittling themselves.
There are just 100 days until the next election. I have no doubt that much can change in that time and there will be many more ructions in politics before the next poll. Whatever the result, I can only hope that all politicians and political parties will have learned the lesson that adherence to principle and maintaining political integrity are the two values that are most admired by the voting public.
They might not like what you have to say but they will respect you for doing the right thing.