“Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”

Turnbull Mirror

Malcolm Turnbull is not a leader. He is a lone wolf.

He has always tended to celebrate his own magnificence, and has done well – for himself and his family – out of it. But the fact remains that while he may be in a team, he is not a team leader. No political team he has ever led has done well. Urbane and sophisticated doesn’t seem to cut it in the snakepit of politics.

Bill Shorten (as I am getting tired of writing, but it has to be repeated) has kept Labor together without the usual rancour and restlessness from the peanut gallery of Labor machine men, time servers and influence peddlers that usually cruels the ground for an Opposition leader from the Left.

Before he was in parliament Shorten led a major union successfully into the 21st century. No wonder the conservatives attempted to pillory him for it at the TURC. It was one of the strongest indications that he was a genuine leader. It seems obvious now that the aim of TURC was to show him up as just another grubby self-server, out for the personal perks.

The TURC failed, and had to exonerate him.

Weak attempts to keep the “Bill Shorten has questions to be answered” issue alive have withered into the mists of time. Who now thinks there’s going to be a “Union Corruption” election campaign? Life’s too short for shit like that.

Abbott and Hockey – the supposed foundation pillars of the new Liberal government are both gone. Was Bill out and about waving him arms and trying-on the 3-word slogans, Tony-style for the two years it took their party to wake up?

No. He judged that it would be better to just block them where they could do real harm, and then to let their petulant overreactions and their thinly disguised ideological obsessions, ever more rabid as time passed, do the rest.

And it worked. The first two years of the Coalition government have gone up in a puff of smoke, exposed as a shallow, policy-free fraud. Even their own people are now pointing this out, if only to take some of the heat off themselves: members of the Abbott government, but strangely not connected to any of its mistakes… in their own estimation, of course. The fact remains that they are equally responsible for the two years of Abbott mayhem as Abbott is himself. God help them if the punters make the connection.

Meanwhile, Bill Shorten has avoided the opportunity to gloat, heckle and kick heads from the sidelines. Instead he got his team working, knowing that schadenfreude is one thing, planning and substance are another.

His calmness and patience got him into a lot of trouble. There was the mockery about zingers. Then the accusations of being bland and uninteresting. There were even taunts from the very people who refused to listen to him that no-one was listening to him! Nice try. Because Shorten wasn’t a thug like Abbott, driven by vindictiveness and destructiveness, and he wasn’t a clown like Hockey, Abbott’s Toltoy punching bag, he was written off as “No Fun”, the human Dad Joke.

A lot of ostensible “Labor” supporters fell for this too. They believed that unless you were a vaudeville showman like Abbott, making noise all the time, you couldn’t “cut through”. Retail politics was what it was all about. There had to be an “announceable” every day, and lots of stunts, or the Opposition leader should go, to be replaced by someone who could cut it. Round up the usual suspects.

Then there were the polls which, if looked at honestly, only snapshotted the political situation as it should have been: a rump of an Opposition, exhausted by past internal ructions, decimated at the last election, barely able to get out of bed each day and fight the good fight in the Parliament and hustings. 53-47 against, post-September, looked pretty close to normal in that situation. The polling excesses of the Abbott years were the exception. The 2013-2015 polls were a bloody miracle for Labor, when you think about it. But they gave Labor confidence, but some of its supporters too much confidence. They forgot that the electoral cycle is three years, not the two weeks between Newspolls, owned and operated by one of Shorten’s (and Labor’s) greatest enemies.

As Churchill said about “ends of the beginning”, so it’s true for Labor. The fight’s not over.It’s hardly begun. The CPG can become just as bored with Bill Shorten again as they seem to be with Malcolm Turnbull at present.

But for the moment they’re seeing Shorten in a new light (for them). Funny how they’ve only just twigged, isn’t it? The new light is an illumination that many here have seen for quite some time. But it can be switched off as suddenly as it was switched on. Don’t rely on the journos for anything that resembles deep thought: they’re still trying to run the line that Malcolm Turnbull making a May 11 DD announcement is sensible, or certain, or even a guaranteed winner with no political blowback. That’s how dumb they are. Kids with toys. Camp followers. Their own echo chamber. Only ever tangential to the curve of history, but not part of it.

Turnbull has been lazy, thinking he has all the time in the world to fiddle while Canberra and Australia burn. It’s an investor’s laziness. Investors put up the capital, and then let others do the work for them.

The problem is that, as Prime Minister, it’s now Turnbull’s job to roll up his own sleeves, and to lead. I don’t think he’s got that in him. Malcolm employs people to do that. Unfortunately, the buck has now stopped rolling and is stuck in crevice: jammed right up the Prime Minister’s fundamental orifice.

It’s Turnbull who has to get himself and his party out of trouble. Don’t expect Bill Shorten to help by attracting too much attention to himself, yet.

Shorten’s strategy is to do what you can do, within your capabilities, while the enemy fritters away their resources preening before the mirror they are trapped inside of, one that tells them, “You are the fairest one of all”.

Until you’re not.


848 thoughts on ““Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”

  1. I got my license in a country town by just going to see the local copper and asking without a driving test.

    • I got mine in SA in 1958 when only a theory test (rules of the road) and no driving test was required. Local copper was rather stern and asked me how long I’d spent learning it. I said it was an hour or so last night. “well,” he said, still in a gruff tone, ” You did very well, since you got every question right,”

      I didn’t really learn to drive for another two years.

  2. gigi – I was off a farm so you learn early. I still can’t do a reverse park because there wasn’t any need to.

    No collisions, actually ever!

    And 1 fine for speeding only (the Merc tricked me and I got done for 8 over – a two liner to the Motor Traffic Authority got me off that.

    I’ve fallen off motor bikes numbers of times.

    Luck well and truly with me for the 30 or so years of driving on the road.

  3. I saw the point made earlier today that Morrison has barely even settled into the Treasurer position, and Turnbull has already been forced to state publicly that he has ‘confidence’ in him. Morrison really is that much of a dud.

    I also heard some claims that Morrison is a worse Treasurer than Hockey. Nobody could be worse than Hockey, he was a disaster of such breadth and depth that he’ll be unchallenged for decades. Hockey’s particular claim to notoriety was that he took a healthy economy and virtually destroyed it – and managed that within a year. Morrison had to inherit that disaster, so he’s coming off a lower base. But he has done nothing to rehabilitate the position, and demonstrated a similar incomprehension in the face of economic figures.

    They both share a similar misconception – that the ability to see what a graph says – you know, what the things on the side say and which way the line is sloping – is the mark of good economic nous. Understanding it, and then being to place it into a wider context, is way beyond them. You can’t just say what’s there and then move straight into your ideological stance – you have to at least try to link the graph with the ideology. Neither of them learnt that.

    They also both have this mistaken idea that the louder you shout, the more intelligent you are. Or perhaps that shouting lends authority to whatever nonsense you are saying. It doesn’t.

  4. Turnbull’s got some different lunatic ideas floating around in his head:

    1. If the opposition challenges you on a particular topic, the best response is to provide them with a definition of the thing they’re talking to you about. This apparently makes it look like you’re teaching them, and also helps you to avoid the actual question.

    2. If the opposition asks you a question in a policy area you’re finding tricky, the best response is to complain that they didn’t ask you about a topic you want to talk about.

    3. If you’re not across a particular policy area, that shouldn’t stop you from talking endlessly about it. Everyone else loves the sound of your voice just as much as you do, and it would be a shame to deprive them of it, even it that voice is saying nothing useful.

    4. Ad hominem attacks on the opposition are not necessarily in contrast to calls that they engage in adult conversation. Combine them freely.

    5. If you said something yesterday that either didn’t work or was factually wrong, saying the opposite today is perfectly acceptable, and standing by both statements is the honourable thing to do.

    6. An arrogant, supercilious attitude can sweep away all other faults, and it’s what the people love.

  5. The big story today should be the way Waffles has excused the vile behaviour of George Christensen.

    Christensen made some appalling remarks in parliament last night. He should, at the very least, have been reprimanded by the PM, should have been asked to resign from the parliament.

    So what did Waffles do? He waffled – a lot – but said not one word of censure. His miserable, spineless response has given the impression he and his government fully approve of Christensen’s unhinged hate-filled words.

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