Features Australia

Tony, Bibi, and the commentariat

As with Benjamin Netanyahu, the elites have mostly written off Tony Abbott. They’re in for a surprise

28 March 2015

9:00 AM

28 March 2015

9:00 AM

The Prime Minister is doomed. On that, the commentariat, the elites and the whole political class are unanimous. He has gone too far. He is an international embarrassment. The polls are bad, the focus groups worse. In the shadows, the same sinister forces involved in the formation of GetUp! work for his downfall. But then the Prime Minister turns the tables.

Benjamin Netanyahu is returned in the closest thing to a landslide Israelis know. It was almost as unexpected and unpredicted as Harry Truman’s in 1948.

What happened in Israel is likely to be repeated in Australia. There is a lesson here for the Liberal Party. Like most 21st century democratic parties, no one in Likud would chant the outdated and elitist mantra that the leadership is the gift of the party room. As befits a great party operating in a true democracy, Likud’s leader is chosen in a primary of 100,000 members. Last year, contrary to predications and the wishes of various elites in Israel, Europe and the US, Netanyahu not only retained the Likud leadership, he received 75 per cent of the votes.

As Netanyahu says, a primary election proves that ‘democracy trumps dictatorship’. Australians are rightly suspicious of the dictatorship exercised in the major political parties by various shady factional powerbrokers and lobbyists.

A leadership primary would demonstrate to the nation that the Party is open, transparent and democratic, a worthy institution in our democracy.

Australians remain equally suspicious of the commentariat’s abuse of power. They see this through the daily propaganda bite inserted by a mainly hostile left wing gallery into almost every TV bulletin. This of course has its effect, as seen in the polls. But that won’t hold.

When the election comes and Australians compare what is being offered to them, they will do what the Israelis did and vote for the result they believe will be in the best interests of the nation. Australians will never install a government they fear will open the borders, run down our defences, and incur massive debts for no apparent benefit. They will be reminded that just the interest on Labor’s debt could build a dozen hospitals every year.

Nor will they choose a government with ministers who believe those completely discredited IPCC computer projections. They certainly don’t want to pay for that merchant bankers’ dream, a CO2 trading scheme to stop the global warming which actually stopped 18 years ago.

The voters will contrast Abbott with Bill Shorten and most will conclude he is above all authentic. His values and principles are those that lie at the heart and foundation of this nation, however unfashionable they may be among the elites. They will recall that he is a man always dedicated to service to others, and never for the purpose of personal promotion. Unlike some politicians, his regular and longstanding work in lifesaving, fire fighting and working with indigenous people were never isolated media photo opportunities. Nor do his advisors notify the media every time he will be in church, so that the resulting kerbside comment on the TV news bulletin has the right spiritual context.

The problem for Abbott is that for almost as long as he has been in public life, he has been subject to a massive media hate campaign. It has not stopped him from being extraordinarily successful. If 100,000 highly questionable enrolments had not been added to the rolls, he probably would have won in 2010. He was the clear winner in 2013.

An early example was when he was a backbencher of three years standing. He was appalled as to how divisive and wasteful the republican debate had become. So he proposed a compromise in his book, How to Win the Constitutional War: and give both sides what they want.

If the governor-general were to be granted an additional title, ‘president’, he argued, republicans would have their ‘resident for president’ while the monarchy would continue .This was not an unreasonable suggestion; the governor-general regularly presides over the executive council and is supported by an appointed ‘vice president’. But displaying that ‘shameless bias’ that so surprised a visiting distinguished British editor, the commentariat reported this as ‘Monarchists dump Queen.’

A few years earlier, the foundation of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy had been reported in similar terms.

Both of these mischievous stories had the predictable and no doubt calculated short-term result, a loss of confidence among monarchists in their leaders and turmoil in their ranks. But when they realised they were being hoodwinked, subscriptions were cancelled and suspicion about our agenda-driven media only increased.

Determined to topple Abbott and change the direction the government has established, the commentariat has recently added two new weapons to their campaign.

The first is to hold Abbott personally responsible whenever the Labor-Greens led senate coalition blocks legislation to correct Labor’s own excesses. If you read the commentators, it would seem that every galah in every pet shop is now an expert in cross bench negotiation.

(As for Abbott being to blame for everything, have they forgotten the mess is Labor’s and if the government is at fault, under our Westminster system, so is every member of the cabinet? If any minister feels otherwise he has the option the shadow ministers so properly exercised when Malcolm Turnbull made the mother of all captain’s picks in 2009 and told them to get behind Kevin Rudd on global warming. They resigned.)

The second new weapon is one borrowed from the sleaziest side of the British tabloid press, who also use this to attack Prince Philip, as much out of laziness as malice. Accordingly, Tony Abbott has also now been declared to be ‘gaffe prone’; so whenever he speaks, the commentariat switch to autopilot and anything and everything − even the most innocuous comment for St. Patrick’s Day− becomes the latest gaffe du jour.

The solution for Abbott is to maintain the direction of the government and to be himself. As with Netanyahu, his messages will upset the elites, but they pass the Alan Jones pub test with flying colours.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments
  • billjansen

    The Spectator seems to say it all….and I find that it is pretty close to the mark. Now briefly turning to Shorten .. he has a questionable past and now presents as a vacuous and shallow type with little to say or enunciate that adds to the quality or richness of public debate