Julia Gillard: a breath of fresh air for Aussies
Australia’s PM rises above the usual rough and tumble of federal politics – and her mother will stop her becoming a Thatcher
by Dorothy Rowe, in the Guardian,December 20 2010
My hero is Julia Gillard, Australia’s prime minister. Her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, has many great qualities but knowing how to be a leader is not one of them. His party forced him to resign and Gillard, until then his deputy, took his place. Australian federal politics is rough, loud and often vicious. Gillard knew this well and she had developed a way of speaking that is slow, clear and determined. Her wit is sharp, intelligent and funny, and often surprises and silences her critics. She is well versed in conducting a long-running, rational and informed debate. Michael O’Connor of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, who knew her well, warned: “You didn’t really want to be arguing a point of view against her if you could avoid an argument with her. She was very serious about winning it.”
A debate with someone who holds opposing views but is well informed and rational is difficult, but it can be both productive and clarifying. However, the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, aka the mad monk, scorns both rationality and facts. He provides the soundbites that the media loves, so he grabs the headlines and creates confusion and much misinformation. Gillard has the task of maintaining, not just for herself but for her audience, clarity of purpose. She must not sink to the level of mere abuse, as is popular in Australian politics, but must continue to present herself as being imperturbable. A knife under the ribs rather than a bludgeon over the head.
All too often in my life I have welcomed a particular leader as a hero, only to see him or her ignore Lord Acton’s warning: “All power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I was worried that, as a successful Labor leader, Gillard would be corrupted by power until I read that her mother, on learning that Julia had become PM, said that her daughter would be “the best [prime minister] there is”, adding: “So long as she doesn’t turn into Maggie Thatcher.”
With a wise mother like that Julia Gillard might yet become the rarest of leaders, one who is not corrupted by power.
No Place for Sheep replied, in its usually restrained manner:
Dorothy Rowe – where are you getting this information?
We don’t like Julia Gillard. Her voice makes us want to throw ourselves out of windows. She IS Thatcher, but in a faux velvet glove She is a robot produced by the ALP party machine with all humanity leached out of her. Moving forward! Moving Forward! she shrieks at us like a demented darlik.
It is estimated that she is losing 120 votes per hour for the ALP. She has no backbone, no spine and no moral compass. She looks NOTHING like your photograph of her. I cannot begin to tell you how little respect this woman has in this country and it’s getting less and less every day.
Did her mum pay you to write this twaddle? UK people, please listen! Our PM is really, really, really the worst PM we have ever had and that is saying a lot because we have not been blessed in this regard.
I think your article is a total disgrace, Ms Rowe.You sooo do not know what you are talking about and you shouldn’t be peddling this un-researched twaddle.
PS The photo you used is an airbrushed one by the Women’s Weekly.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011
PPS: People have remonstrated with me about these comments, saying that I have been unkind to Ranga. Haven’t they read any Comments sections lately? They are not for the faint-hearted, and these are quite mild compared to some responses to this article.
Be that as it may, I don’t wish to be unkind, even if I am talking about a once highly trusted deputy prime minister, given enormous power and prestige by the boss who had nothing but faith in her abilities and loyalty, only to find her dagger lodged in his heart.
As Ghandi said, an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind and I shouldn’t be vengeful. It’s not like I was that happy with Ruddy. It’s just the principle.