Of all the scurrilous campaigns conducted by the Federal Opposition, and maniacally propagated by almost all the mainstream media, the erroneous suggestion that we vote for a leader when we elect a government in this country has to be one of the most dangerous.
Dangerous because it deliberately disguises the manner in which our Westminster political system actually works. We do not elect our leaders. We elect a party that is entirely responsible for electing its own leader. As we know all too well, a party can sack their leader, without consulting us, at any time. Had any of us been in any doubt about this, it was made graphically obvious when the ALP defenestrated Kevin Rudd in his first term as leader, and after he’d led them to an extraordinary victory.
Be that as it may.
I’ve heard and read of many people vowing that if the ALP now defenestrates Prime Minister Julia Gillard, they will never vote Labor again. While I can fully sympathise with this enraged despair, an expression of powerlessness if ever there was one, at the same time it is alarmingly nihilistic, and the country can ill-afford dramatic gestures at this point in our politics.
The ALP needs to get its house in order and earn back the trust it squandered with heart-stopping recklessness since 2007. It may well be doing this from the Opposition benches. Things may well have got so bad there really is no hope of them retaining government, no matter who leads them. But disillusioned as many of us are, we have to do our bit and use our heads, not our hearts. If there is any chance at all of minimising a Labor defeat, we have to take it. The alternative, a coalition government led by Tony Abbott, likely in place for decades, is simply too appalling to contemplate.
The notion that we vote for our leader is part of the Opposition campaign, which relies almost entirely on disseminating false information through the use of simplistic narratives. The degree to which it has taken hold in the electorate is shocking. That we behave and vote as if we live in a presidential electoral system reveals a vast and profound ignorance of our reality, an ignorance the Opposition and certain sections of the media manipulates and exploits to its own advantage.
No matter how pissed off you are with those in the ALP who have brought us to this, look first to who is standing in your electorate, not to who will or will not be, temporarily, the leader. I know they don’t deserve our trust. But nobody deserves decades of a Coalition government, while the ALP languishes in greatly reduced numbers, as ineffective in opposition as they have been in dealing with their internal strife.
Come September, vote with you reason, not your emotion. And that way, perhaps the damage can be minimised.