The art of knitting

From last night, I read this across the road, in response to a comment I made on” metrics” versus “individuals”…

Sure, we’re not metrics as individuals, but it will be metrics that decide the result.

Exactly wrong.

Gillard knitting 2

Polling metrics (which is what I was referring to) will never decide the result.

Only an election can do that.

I repeat: ONLY an election can do that.

Polls are not elections, especially polls three months out from an election.

I learnt that from believing Possum’s “100 seat” snake oil in 2007. Never again.

There’s a pre-campaign and an actual campaign yet to come, where the punters will be reminded of just how much they will be losing – services, infrastructure, cash, rights at work, good health, better education – by voting for the Coalition’s dry austerity policies and how much they have gained under Labor in the same areas despite trenchant opposition from the Abbott forces.

Knitting, fat ankles, manufactured gaffes, Abbott’s new-born SNAG image and Kevin Rudd will be unimportant.

“What’s in it for them” will be important, much more important than it is now.

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When you don’t like someone, in that Reality TV way of “not liking someone”, it’s easy to tell a pollster that and to kid yourself into thinking that you’re “voting” by telling some anonymous voice from a call center who you prefer, today, now.

It’s almost a purely emotional decision, in between doing the dishes or cooking dinner, or while you’re trying to find your keys.

But as the day for actual decision-making gets closer you look for reassurance that your earlier emotional decision was valid. You start looking for rational justification for your voting intention.

You ask questions. You expect the courtesy of an answer.

I’m not talking about everyone. There are rusted-ons on both sides, of course. they’ll always vote the same way. Perhaps they see current politics as part of a life’s continuum, just another opportunity, or round in the fight where a long-held view can be expressed.

I’m talking about the few per cent in the middle that make the difference in just about every election: the suggestible ones, about one in 15-to-20 people.

The coming election is an existential battle between Liberal and Labor, between the Old Media and New Media, and between poll results and election day voting.

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An entire industry has grown up in the past three years, centered around predicting essentially unpredictable events. We have seen more polling over the entire time – post-election, mid-term and now the final straight – than I can remember.

Yet, despite the apparent rude good health of the Polling Estate, it’s existence is in play.

We’ve seen more analysis, more polling companies, more contrasting methodologies than ever before. A lot of this is because the government was seen as being in danger of imminent obliteration – from defecting independents, to Rudd Comebacks, to No Confidence motions – so polls were taken as often as possible.

It eventually became a mantra that the government couldn’t possibly survive, based on poll results. And then the polls were somehow forgotten. The bitter message was distilled down to “She’s gone.” It became a self-justifying proposition or, (as I prefer to term it) a circle jerk.

But survive the government did. It’s gone nearly full term now and Labor is still in power, and Gillard is still PM. The analysis of polls that was claimed to show the government was doomed next week or the week after that was wrong.

There are a lot more knitters, it seems, than there are poll analysts or journalists.

Poll analysts were mocked, and rightly so. All their spreadsheets and charts were useless against the will of a group of individuals in government, and one particular individual who held it all together – the PM – to not only survive, but prosper, getting 600 bills through in vitally important areas of major policy.

The more the poll analysts were mocked, the more trenchant they became. Next time they’d be right. But they never were. Not once.

In the term “poll analysts” I include journalists working for an agenda-driven Old Media, plus chartists and spreadsheet junkies who claim to be able to predict the future. I’ve seen enough predictions of the future go wrong when it comes to predicting the longevity of this government to believe that no-one has a clue what will happen on September 14th.

So much has been so wrong, so often, that it’s pretty clear to me we are in uncharted territory (forgive the pun).

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Julia Gillard seems to drive people crazy.

She drives the media crazy because she won’t answer their gotchas and won’t do what they predict she will do. She openly mocks them, and they are ripe for mocking. Gillard is the living proof of that. For example, last night on Q&A they spent 25 minutes discussing her, and why she won’t just give up.

She drives the punters crazy because, while they are rabid and foul-mouthed, they can never get her to answer them in kind. It must be infuriating for the sexists out there every time she calls them out. Women are supposed to buckle under to threats and intimidation and their gender being slagged off by men. But Gillard just digs in.

Rudd too must be getting to the unhinged point now. No matter what he tries he can’t get her to hand power back to him. He will have to fight for it every inch of the way and he doesn’t have the resources or (in my opinion) the ticker.

Every fight he’s won in the party room he’s won it with a show of hands, the result has been pre-arranged. The last fight he won, back in 2006, was with Gillard’s assistance.

She knows all about Rudd’s tactics. She’s read his book. She wrote a lot of it.

Understanding his tactics so well she’s been able to stay one step ahead of him at all times, interfering with his chosen ground for challenging and his preferred timing, rather brilliantly in fact. Put up, or shut up Kevin.

You can see the venom in anti-Gillard and pro-Coalition postersaround the blogs. She infuriates them too. She just won’t lay down and die, like the political text book says she should. You’d think that if the Coalition commenters were so sure of the final outcome they’d be a lot less antsy.

In all of these instances the hatred and agitation Gillard engenders – simply by staying put and refusing to give in, by demanding that her enemies actually fight the battle, not just puff up their chests like so many territorial mountain goats, and in the meantime getting on with governing – is a product of their deep-down concern that she can win the election, that somehow the polls and the pundits – and themselves – are wrong.

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Gillard has made a hobby of confounding her critics. She has routinely and ritually humiliated them every single time. Where others waver, she stands firm, smiling her way through, doing her knitting like Madame Defarge at their executions.

Sure she can lose the election. I can’t deny that. But that’s a long way off now and 80-odd days is a long time in politics, for anyone.

Life, love and politics are about people, individuals, not spreadsheets. Gillard understands that. Perhaps she has no choice but to understand it. By continually making a mockery of her critics she infuriates them further.

Another Golden Rule then comes into play: it’s far better to fight cool than hot.

In the meantime, get on with your knitting.

Gillard Knitting #1

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1,090 thoughts on “The art of knitting

  1. well u may be spot on there because I rekon rudd wil sell the abc

    and now mr m may close his papers ,, mission achieved

  2. Little black duck,

    No, that’s my wife who is devastated. (A slightly clumsy sentence construction.)

  3. jane in dension had built her campaign around Julia and her policies
    not dam wilkie may get in ,

  4. Chisholm. Her office is in Box Hill, the suburb I live in. Obviously I don’t know which way she voted but it doesn’t really matter.

    Just shattered

  5. I had an old photo of rudd in my on line photo albumn
    in 2007 with the GG I deleted last week,
    so glad I did

  6. Earlier on some fools were tweeting about by-elections if supporters of Julia Gillardc resigned. The ignorance of the way our parliamentary system works continues to astound me. We do not hold by-elections this close to a full election. Why is that so hard to understand?

  7. Where are those mealy mouthed media morons who spent years wailing that Rudd was “assassinated” and “knifed”?

    I suppose they will now have to admit he wasn’t really killed after all, it was just over the top dumbed-down journalistic jargon.

  8. Today is the day politics has died for me. Labor has shot itself in the head and
    handed the election to abbott on thirty pieces of silver.

  9. Catmomma, denese (and probably a whole lot of other people) re the Greens: for various reasons, the Greens don’t get significant amounts of money from donations, they instead rely on their first preference funding from the AEC. Regardless of what their policies are like, how often they screw up, how irritating they are, they are at the moment the only viable third party.

    Australian politics needs a viable third party, because it provides us with a balance against the risk of an opposition party that refuses to work with the government, and reduces the chance of a government that has absolute control of the parliament. We’ve seen both of those cases in the last ten years, and seen just how bad they have the potential to be – Howard controlling both houses was exceptionally painful (and fortunately contributed to his loss); Abbott being a total douchebag has been painful, but nothing like as destructive as he could have been if the government had no way to get things through the senate. The strength of the Greens are the primary reason that Abbott’s f*ckwittery hasn’t been able to totally stall government, and that on its own means that they should see at least a reasonable amount of grace from Labor supporters.

    On the topic of Greens policy and actions this term, there’s a whole lot of crap they’ve been spouting and various times they’ve been /far/ too happy to push the line that there’s no difference between Labor and the Coalition, but there are two things you have to remember about them. The first is that they /are/ very reliant on first preferences for funding, which means that they have to try and ensure that people put them /first/, not second after Labor. Yeah, it’s annoying as all hell, but seriously, this is politics – as far as annoying as all hell goes, one party slagging off another is in the lower half of the list.

    The second thing to remember about the Greens is that they are /not/ a party of government. They have what, 9 senators and one person in the reps? That not only means they have no chance of forming government outside of a formal coalition, but that they have limited resources. They can’t push their idiots onto the back bench where they can be a safe vote and do minimal harm, they have to try and figure out how to make them part of their shadow ministry and get some value out of them. Finally, until the PBO was introduced they had no way to do Treasury level modelling work on their policies – I have no idea how they modelled their policies, but whatever it was they weren’t really up to the task. Since the PBO has been available they’ve been making use of it and I think had the political scenario not been so dysfunctional their policies would have improved since then. I’m hopeful that they’ll do better next term when they have access to those resources while they’re doing the full policy development process (as long as the douchecanoe doesn’t decide to toss it).

    Oh, and it really helps to have someone who’s way off to the left of the current Overton window, so that there’s some pressure against the tea party d*ckheads in the Coalition.

    Having said all that, Gillard is really the only person who could possibly have managed to make anything useful from this parliament. She’s done so much more than just “make something useful”, though – she’s made generational changes to the nation, of the kind that Whitlam implemented, the kind that Hawke and Keating implemented, and the kind that Howard never had the guts to do. Tonight is a tragedy for Labor, and for the nation, and I think regardless of the election outcome Rudd will be seen by history as a total ratf*cker.

    himi

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