You sometimes wonder whether we live in an adult country anymore. For the last two days the broadcast media has been obsessing about whether Tony Abbott is a fit and proper person to be a trade envoy for the United Kingdom. Since he is a former Prime Minister of Australia, a distinguished statesman and a great friend of the United Kingdom you might have thought he would be eminently suited for the role.
But Kay Burley of the Sky News network, among others, has announced that Abbott is (in her eyes) guilty of wrong-think. You don’t need to see the clips. You could come up with the list yourself. You know the drill.
We are told that Abbott is a ‘homophobe’ and ‘misogynist’. He is furthermore a ‘climate change denier’. They haven’t said ‘transphobe’ yet, but I expect they’ll get there. They might even try the ‘r’ word if they’re feeling brave enough today.
Former colleagues of Abbott’s like Peta Credlin have come to his defence. People have tried to point out that very few people were in favour of gay marriage a decade ago so the fact that a Catholic like Abbott wasn’t a supporter of it ahead of time (including ahead of many gay groups) isn’t such a surprise. Elsewhere people have pointed out that Abbott has a gay sister and attended her wedding a short while back. I must say that whenever that sort of defence is wheeled out I only have one thought: what if Abbott hadn’t been lucky enough to have a lesbian sister? What if chance had made him an only child or one of those unfortunate indefensible types who can’t produce a gay sibling in their own defence?
All the accusations against Abbott are false. No reasonable person looking at his career could come to the conclusions that Burley and co have. Let alone claim – as Burley now has – that Abbott has said disgusting things about the elderly and seems to want them all to die. This is pathetic stuff. And we could all play it back at everybody. For instance there is good reason to suggest that anybody who thinks you shouldn’t grab a women by the throat until they have bruises on their neck should never be seen in public or private with Kay Burley.
Still, what bothers me most is not just that British broadcasters can’t get their truths or priorities right. The worst thing is that the remaining adults in the room can’t even defend someone as suitable as Tony Abbott. Witness the pathetic spectacle of Matt Hancock and Grant Shapps being asked about Abbott in recent days. They stand there with their NHS lanyards, positively begging to be loved by their ideological foes. Only for some low-grade hit-job to be attempted on a good friend and ally of this country who has put himself forward to serve it. And all they can do is say how much they think they will have to look into these ‘allegations’.
It’s pathetic, and personally speaking I’m bored of it. For all I care Tony Abbott could be a fire-breathing Paisley-ite. It wouldn’t make a jot of difference about whether he should be a trade envoy for this country or not. Ditto the claims on ‘misogyny’, ‘climate-change denial’ and much more. I don’t care. I suspect most people in the country don’t either. This is a crucial moment in our country’s history. One in which we are going to need friends. If people like Hancock and Schapps can’t stand up for such friends then they should step out of the way and allow this country to be defended by people who can.
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