Letting the ‘narrative’ winPosted: March 23, 2013
It’s not often that I see my mum, Kay Rollison, as angry as she was on Thursday. I too was furious at the behavior of the Labor Party. I could probably write a book about all the reasons, but I thought it might be useful (and perhaps cathartic), to home in on the strongest reason for my fury. Those who have followed my blog for a while will know how I came to this position. I am just out of my mind incensed that some people in the Labor Party think it’s a good idea to let the mainstream media’s ‘narrative’ of Labor chaos, disunity and debacle win. Because it’s a fucking joke that this narrative even exists, let alone that’s it’s allowed to be treated like a real ‘thing’, a ‘thing’ big enough to throw away any chance of a Labor government win.
I often get accused of being, or sometimes just mistaken for, a Labor party hack. It’s hard to be a Labor supporter these days without being accused of something. A faceless person. A rusted onto something. Every word I write, to some people, seems to exist with the sole purpose of campaigning for the Labor party. I find this annoying and unfair. Yes, I’m a member of the Labor party. Yes, I’m a Labor voter. But that doesn’t mean I condone EVERYTHING the Labor party does. And it doesn’t mean that I blog as a missionary to convert non-Labor voters to my thinking. I write what I think and those who read my posts can take what they like from what I say. My core belief is that you vote based on the political policies you most agree with. Policies. Should I say it again? Policies. Even if I’m totally opposed to some things the Labor party does, such as dog whistling of any kind in relation to policy around asylum seekers and gay marriage, it doesn’t mean that I’ll cut off my nose to spite my face, and vote for a party that doesn’t align in the slightest with my policy preferences. Write me off as you will. But be aware that I don’t get paid by anyone or anything to do with the Labor party or the Labour movement.
It is in my rational best interests to support the party that is offering the policies that most closely align with my values as a member of the Australian community. I am nothing more than an informed voter with an opinion. I am as independent as it is possible to be. So what does this rant within a rant have to do with the topic of this post? The reason I am so angry is that I think the Labor party’s policies are bloody good. Not all of them. Not all of them all the time. But overall, especially compared to the Abbott alternative, they are the only option I can even begin to encourage. And I think that the Labor government’s weakness in letting the mainstream media decide how they conduct themselves is a disgrace. Because it threatens my hopes for the policies I want being successfully implemented or continued post September 14.
On my way home from work yesterday, I had the misfortune of listening to a few minutes of Waleed Aly on ABC’s Radio National. I often listen to Aly and I remind myself every time I switch him off in anger why I have this reaction. It’s because Aly is typical of the mainstream media when it comes to journalists, commentators, reporters and media personalities who think they’ve earned the right to speak about politics, when clearly they have not. It’s the smart-arse effect. It’s the ‘I’m so cynical, that I’m cynical that I even got out of bed this morning, and the worst insult anyone could ever give me is that I give a shit about something’ attitude. To the mainstream media, the ‘leadership speculation’ and the aborted ‘leadership spill’ is all a big game. A big laugh. A diversion. A talking point. A ditty. Something to make themselves feel so smart and humorous. Ha ha ha. If I were to name all the people in the mainstream media who have this attitude about the reporting of political current affairs, it would take less time to mention those who don’t behave in this way, rather than naming those who do. You see, the thing that shits me above all else about the mainstream media, is that they don’t give a fuck. They don’t care about policy like the average voter does. They can’t even be bothered mentioning it, let alone investigating it. People like Leigh Sales think it is ok to say policies like the Mining Tax and the Carbon Price are policy failures, presumably because they were struggles, when actually, quite obviously, they are policy successes. Since when was a good policy ever not a struggle? Since when did a policy have to be popular for it to be worthwhile for the country? What the fuck are you talking about Sales?
It’s this ignorance about policy, and the obsession with opinion polls and popularity that is at the heart of the failure of good political reportage in this country. It’s the reason why political journalists love leadership speculation and opinion polls. Because this is easy. Because it doesn’t challenge them to think about anything. And that’s the other thing. They only love leadership speculation if it’s happening in the Labor party, as this suits their Labor bashing narrative. The Liberals get away scot free with leadership spills. Basically unreported in Victoria and the Northern Territory. Even when we all know that Tony Abbott only won the leadership of his party by one vote (again I’ll point out it was Peter Slipper’s), yet the only leadership tensions the mainstream media choose to fuel and obsess over are Gillard versus Rudd. Even though Rudd doesn’t have the numbers. Even though Joe Hockey probably does, since Slipper exited the scene. Even though there are policy successes that go unreported on a daily basis (anyone hear ANYTHING about the NDIS passing the lower house this week?) The mainstream media is full of wankers who are trying to make a name for themselves by showing how little they care for or respect political policy. And SOME Labor people (such as Rudd, Crean, Fitzgibbons, Ferguson, Bowen and other nobodies like Graham Richardson who I wish was more faceless), play straight into these little fuckers’ hands.
Imagine if for two years, the media continually reported that Joe Hockey wanted to take the leadership of the Liberal Party from Tony Abbott. And/or Malcolm Turnbull was reported to be counting numbers. What if there was a constant barrage of three-way leadership tension between Abbott, Turnbull and Hockey? What if this ‘reporting’ reached a crescendo just before the election when Abbott actually looked to be making some headway? What if this was the chosen narrative of the mainstream media? Would the Liberal Party be stupid enough to have a public leadership spill so close to the finish line? Would they guillotine their policies (or lack thereof) so blatantly as the Labor Party has this week? I think not. I think Abbott’s Liberals have their eye on the prize and unfortunately, will not let anything the mainstream media does damage their chances. This is obviously purely hypothetical as the mainstream media gives the LNP a free run. Actually, it’s better than a free run. Let’s call a spade a spade – it’s a fully supported campaign. But I still think the morons in the Labor party who think there was something to be gained by giving the mainstream media a circus tent and filling it with clowns will live in our history forever as the morons who ruined Gillard’s chance of victory. I hope I’m wrong. But in my furious state, I can’t see the Labor party coming back from this, no matter how much dead wood and how many white-anting disloyal Rudd supporting MPs are sent to the back benches, which is not as far back as they deserve.
So yes, I’m furious. I’m furious that the bullshit mainstream media have been given exactly what they wanted, when all they really deserve is the falling readership and viewer numbers that they’re currently experiencing. I’m furious that the Rudd camp were leaking to the media about a challenge they didn’t even have the numbers for. I’m furious that the mainstream media were reporting on a spill, constantly for two years, that Rudd didn’t have the numbers for. I’m furious with the Labor party for giving these mainstream media wankers exactly what they wanted, when they could have just taken my advice and moved forward with dignity rather than chaos and debacle. I’m furious that the only party that’s capable of providing me with the policies that I want, is too self-obsesses and egotistical to get it together and do what should be an easy thing – to beat Abbott. I’m furious the Labor government thinks it’s a good idea to let the mainstream media narrative win, no matter how petty and inaccurate this narrative is. Because this week, that is exactly what the Labor party did.