The more traditional game for the politically involved is Chess but as a cipher for modern democratic politics it is not really the best fit, the game is after all analogous to conflicting monarchies. Democracies have a very different dynamic. All of this is a rambling way of getting around to my view of politics as a game. Now I can just imagine that the howls of objection will begin and suggest that to see politics as a game is to not take it seriously, however as any committed sports fan will tell you there is nothing more serious than sport.
On one side of the field we have team Gillard who should have the home ground advantage except that they have done a really good job of upsetting their own fans and of course they have had to make up for the lack of a full team by bringing in some blow-ins who have their own ideas about how the team should play and its those blow-ins who have been the beginning of Team Gillard’s woes and led to them beginning their first quarter with a very spectacular own goal that has haunted them ever since. Now even if you believe in climate change this betrayal of a undertaking made just prior to the 2010 poll was very bad politics and evidence of a contempt for the voters. It was bad politics because it destroyed what little good will Gillard had left after Knifing Rudd to become team Capitan. It was also bad politics because it showed just how desperate Gillard was to get a team together. A better negotiator would have walked away when the asking price was too high. That Gillard did not do so speaks volumes about her deal making ability and none of it is good.
Impulsiveness is often cited as one of Tony Abbott‘s failings there is many a critic from the left who will insist that he is prone to “brain-farts” but there can be no better examples of flatulent thinking than the coniptions that has passed for the Gillard’s ever changing pattern of denial about the folly of changing the asylum seeker regime after winning the 2007 election. Really I don’t know if we should classify this as one own Goal or many. In the first instance there was an unbelievable denial that there was even a problem, the fans did not buy it for a minute, then there was the Timor solution that not even the Timorese knew about even though it had been announced by Gillard, then came the “Malaysian solution” which failed at the first legal hurdle, finally after some furious instance that she would not have overseas processing that is what she has created. By my count that has to be about half a dozen own goals on that issue alone.
In the more recent period of play we have seen even more own goals. The spirited defence of Craig Thompson has not been her finest hour and had she not been in such a precarious position on the numbers in the parliament Thompson would have long since been forced to resign form the house and the Government would have been truly distanced from the stench of corruption. However if Thompson is the “try” then appointing appointing Peter Slipper as Speaker of the house would have to qualify as a “conversion” because the whole point was to shore up her numbers on the field and it has turned out to be a disaster from start to finish. Firstly to make a place for Slipper in the speaker’s chair she had to give the well respected incumbent, Harry Jenkins the old heave ho and then Slipper invited derision and disdain for that high office with his instance upon reviving old out dated and pretentious ceremonial processions. Add to that the simple fact that he was dodgy on his attitude to his expense accounts and the sexual harassment claims against him and the whole business easily earns Gillard six demerit points.
But Gillard is not the only member of her team who is prone to making “Own goals” Wayne Swan has scored more than his fair share it starts with the simple fact that not one of his five budgets have ever turned out even close to his predictions , well I suspect that has been the case for many treasurers but few have been made to look as much a fool as Wayne Swan has over his instance that the promised surplus would be delivered even though this claim was widely denounced by our most knowledgeable financial commentators. When it could not be denied any longer Swan did finally admit the obvious but by this time he was well over his own goal line and the touchdown was just a formality.
Of course there is no better example of Swan’s ability to score against Labor than the MRRT which has been so unreasonably celebrated since its inception as away of clawing back a bigger return to the Australian people for the mineral riches that fuels our economy. Quite a laudable aim in many ways but the own goal lays in the design of the tax and the way that it has been spent many times over before even one cent was collected. The revelations in Fairfax press about how Swan “negotiated” the deal should stand forever as an example of the way not to get the best outcome fro the Australian people .
Its not just been the front row of team Labor who have been scoring goals for the other team the NBN has been a political disaster for Labor as well. Now as much as we all want a bigger brighter broadband network the fact that the business case for such a grand scheme can possibly be excused in the name of nation building but the cost blow-outs and endless delays are far less forgivable, likewise the minister Stephen Conroy has been less than scintillating in convincing the Australian people that the project will be worth the billions this is costing us to build it. Maybe not a own goal touchdown but it does move the ball very much into the scoring contention against their own interests .
But the biggest own goal score maker has to be the ever present Kevin Rudd, this ghost of Christmas past has been haunting Team Labor since he was so ingloriously dispatched in the 2010 Coup. He is definitely not a team Gillard player even though he wears the team jersey. He clearly wants the Captaincy again but but like Marley’s Ghost he is burdened by the chains of his past sins and they may well be to heavy a burden for him to rise cream like to the top of the Labor pail. Then again if Labor is in losing big time they may just try to use him as a final all in bet.
On the other side of the field Team Abbott have played a far more disciplined game , managing to largely stay on message and focused on the prize of ultimate victory when the final whistle blows . There have been a few stumbles but overall they have managed to maintain the momentum of play in their favour. Of course many of those who are dyed in the wool Labor Fans have been trying to get the game commentary onto the topic of next season’s plays but Abbott is faced with a team who keep scoring goals for him rather than against him so he does not have to work very hard to get that winning score. Sports fans get easily bored by a game which is too one sided and they start to drift off to the beer tent well before the final whistle. They are drifting ale-wards now and unless something truly extraordinary happens between now and September 14 we can expect Team Abbott to be crowned as champions on September 15.
*for team Abbott 😉
- I’m Kevin … and I’m from Brissie (smh.com.au)
- Rudd ‘will be PM again’ (smh.com.au)
- Swan seeks to deflect tax attention (abc.net.au)
- Labor ‘may shift back to Rudd’ (bigpondnews.com)
- The little book of big Liberal lies (cafewhispers.wordpress.com)
- Rudd … will he be back? (theage.com.au)
- Gillard can’t escape her ghosts – Rudd is too visible | The Australian (rajcairnsreport.wordpress.com)
- Labor MPs circulate anti-Rudd email (abc.net.au)
- Gillard’s not-so-merry band of has-beens and hacks (abc.net.au)
- Planet Kevin serves up revenge (smh.com.au)