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John Passant

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Election 2010: The worm beats two grubs

Fair dinkum, I despair. The platitude twins talked in similar terms about boats, population and sustainability; about doing nothing on climate change; about health and education; about killing Afghans; about mom and apple pie.

Well maybe not the latter exactly, but certainly there were lots of Australianisms and appeals to nationalism. 

The differences were minor. As Gillard said at one stage ‘If you drill down you’ll find a lot of agreement there…’

Interestingly the female part of the Channel 7 worm supported Gillard and the male part Abbott.

Overall it was a win to Gillard’s version of doing nothing. Her lack of vision trumped Abbott’s.

There was little or no discussion of infrastructure, of paying for services by increasing taxes on us rather than the rich, of the forthcoming attacks on health and education spending, of the looming double dip recession and the plans of both sides to address it, of any grand plan for dealing with climate change.

This was the battle of the sandpit kids over who gets to dig in it as the bulldozers destroy the playground.

The lack of differentiation is not surprising since Labor has abandoned any pretence of supporting workers and rules exclusively for the rich. That is why Gillard emphasised her staring down of the teachers’ unions in the fight over the private school propaganda website My School. I’m surprised she didn’t mention she wants to jail building worker Ark Tribe for being a unionist.

The ‘debate’ marked a further degeneration of Labor as a party of reform, let alone of the left.

A Labor Prime Minister attacking the Liberals for daring to tax big business. A Labor Prime Minister too frightened to say the budget might go back into deficit in case of a recession. A Labor Prime Minister calling people smugglers “evil”. Shame Shame Shame!

So this was a debate that grated – a struggle as to who could dog whistle loudest on refugees the best; as to who could stop the boats; as to who could set up a  regional processing centre; as  to who would do nothing on climate change; as to who could be tough on unions…and so on with reactionary slogans ad nauseum.

The only interesting thing all night was watching the worm turn – from women supporting Gillard by  a noticeable margin to men supporting Abbott whenever either spoke.

Clearly there is a gender difference in the support for the leaders. 

Women support Gillard.

They are in for a rude shock if Gillard wins Government. She will rule for her class, not her gender. Our troops will continue to kill women in Afghanistan. The 18.2% gender pay gap will worsen. Aboriginal women will die earlier than non-Aboriginal women.

And as for any token reforms, such the pathetic parental leave scheme, they will disappear if the global economy worsens and Labor unleashes itself as the attack dog for capital.

As for the execrable Abbott, he was Gillard in a suit and tie. Like Gillard he had no substance, and talked in slogans. Like Gillard he wanted to appeal to the racists and xenophobes.

All in all a fitting end to the grate debate. The worm beat the two grubs.



Comment from silkworm
Time July 25, 2010 at 9:31 pm

You’ve summed it up nicely.

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Time July 25, 2010 at 11:20 pm

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Comment from Bernard
Time July 26, 2010 at 10:45 am

The Master Chefs cooked up a fitting meal for the stunned mullets. Australia Quo Vadis?

Comment from Marco
Time July 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm


Frankly, I did not watch the “debate” (except for a few minutes towards the end).

I expected it to be boring and disappointing and I had better things to do. Besides, I truly, viscerally dislike that Neanderthal.

For what I did see, I believe your summary is accurate.

In fact, I found that this phenomenon of division of support according to gender rather repulsive.

To an extent, I can understand that female viewers may be more disposed to support Ms. Gillard (as she is the first woman to make it as PM). If this may explain their preferences, it does not make them any rational.

On the part of the male public, though, I can’t imagine anything remotely mitigating.

For me, like I believe it’s your case, they are pretty much interchangeable and, thus, I would have expected more or less undifferentiated preferences.

Comment from Marco
Time July 26, 2010 at 8:03 pm

As a follow up.

If you missed it, you need to watch the Abbott interview today at the 7:30 Report.

Comment from John
Time July 26, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Yes. That was a great flashback to mid 2009 and the interview with Kerry over his book Battlelines and his support for WorkChoices.