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.


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.


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).


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.


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

1,090 thoughts on “The art of knitting

  1. Uhlmann, Sales, Simkin all celebrating.

    Sales interviews of all people… for fuck’s sake… Crabbe.

    The only thing missing is high-fives.

    The perfect circle-jerk.

  2. combet gone

    serve rudd right

    he could of taken another path like hawke did’
    all that’s history of course

    I want be watching tv news for weeks seeing Julia is o much for me

    she didn’t want the job in the first place
    now shorten has done this to her,

  3. Don’t you just love these journalists now finding all the good things to say about Julia Gillard?


  4. This has been a woeful day. it started with me sending a teary thank you email to Rob Oakeshott and hAs ended – almost – with me sending off a teary thank you email to Julia Gillard. I’ve always been a firm believer in the ‘whatever happens happens for good reason’ thing, my life has proved thatto be correct many times over. But today has really challenged that belief.

    There is only one thought that gives me any consolation at all – Rudd PM will not completely disgrace us internationally. Abbott PM will.

  5. Christine Milne isn’t happy, she says a lot of people will be shaking their heads that Australia’s first female prime minister has been removed this way, and isn’t guaranteeing confidence.

  6. How could anyone ever vote for The Greens!?! It was because of their demand for a Carbon Tax as a pre-requisite for their support of Labor, which they withdrew as soon as they thought it opportune, that Julia Gillard carried it like an albatross around her neck as Prime Minister from Day 1 of her tenure, and suffered enormously, accordingly. It was because of that that Tony Abbott and the Coalition got a toehold after the 2010 election loss, and not for one moment have we heard a syllable of an apology from The Greens in realisation of that fact and the damage it did to Julia.

    Not only that, but of course, The Greens absolutely reprehensible behaviour when it came to trying to find a solution to the asylum seeker policy impasse.

    They didn’t want to keep the bastards honest, remember, they wanted to replace the bastards!

    Vote for The Greens instead of Labor? I’m not a brain dead hippy. You can’t trust them as far as you can throw them. If there were enough votes in it The Greens would probably support the Anti Vacciners. THAT’S how venal they are!

  7. BK, I didn’t hear that but I won’t be surprised if there are not a lot of MPs bowing out after this. I suppose those who ditched JG will be happy to have Fitzgibbon and Crean gracing the front bench. There won’t be much talent left and the mess to clean up is going to be huge.

  8. If Labor is losing an incredible amount of talent then as I said before, it’s for a new party. One that carries on the Labor tradition. What’s left of the party after tonight does not deserve to be called ‘Labor’ at all. Egos ‘R Us is more like it.

  9. The Greens will get my first preference,
    —————————–please don’t vote for the greens milne will ruin this state even more,,,, they are now tyring to stop the small piece of mining area in the tarkine, there office aways hang up in your ear if u don’t agree with them true
    may be I will switch my attention to lara u do know we wil lose a good half of our gst money with abbott don’t u
    that’s what wa want
    sa too will lose\\

  10. Well, if I was JG, I’d be off to Tuscany on Monday.

    She has no more responsibilities.

    The legislative program is all but finished. She’s out of a job. And not reapplying.

    I know what I’d do.

    F***K the lot of them.

  11. milne hardly supported Julia shaking her head
    would not vote for the off shore policy now she is shaking her head
    wha t a hypocrite she is

  12. Here’s your first hint that they’re starting to realise what they’ve done:

    Rhys Muldoon ‏@rhysam 5m

    I hope the ALP fight to keep Combet in cabinet. He’s not just good, he’s REQUIRED.

  13. Barrie Cassidy can now fire up his flame thrower a notch and train it on Rudd’s belly again. It will be just like old times.

  14. This is a horrible thought –

    Jennifer ‏@conceravota 6m
    God I hope Troy Bramston doesn’t get another job in Rudd’s office

    Maybe Richo will get a spot too.Somehow I think Krudd will find it hard to recruit staff after he treated them like scum last time around.

  15. I am off to bed cannot watch Julia
    rudd is barstard and I will never look at his face
    karma and lot s of it to him

  16. who will stand in their spots

    I am saying serve them right but its is us who will suffer

    abbott and them would be c racking the best bottle of wine they can find

  17. Gee, with my old Mum such a proud feminist so sad.

    Rudd can’t defeat Abbott—no ticker, the country knows that.

    Welcome recession, loss of rights for women, workers, goodbye any form of NBN, welcome our new status as poor white trash of Asia!

  18. rudd will find out very soon there is no one that really likes him at all ‘will he sit in his office like he did before no Julia to work to him in hard times

    stfu rudd

  19. yes political animall I agree no pbs no pill off to church on suday laws
    no fault divorce no ivf

    pell too obey goodness help us

  20. She is smiling – amazing woman. What have we lost? Thanks for nothing Labor Party. Rot in hell!.

  21. Christ, what a loss she is. This is beyond anything else the most tragic destruction of talent that I’ve ever seen.

    I imagine this will go down in history as this generation’s Dismissal.


  22. Amazing woman, she kept it together all the way through, courageous and gracious to the end.
    Vale Julia – the nation doesn’t appreciate what they’ve lost.

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