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'An influential activist' - The Guardian

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You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Julia Gillard: All the right words, all the wrong reasons

Don't get me wrong. I agree with every word Julia Gillard said in this barnstorming take down of Tony Abbott in the Australian Parliament. He has expressed some alarmingly misogynistic views and she is quite right to take him apart over it. There's no argument there.

No my problem is her motivation for what she did.

For she is defending a second politician - Peter Slipper - who has expressed similarly distasteful remarks, as well as allegedly homophobic ones; these views can be found here and despite Ms Gillards speech (and the fact that she won the debate) he resigned as Speaker over them the same day.

So what was her motivation?

Sadly, it appears not to be a deep rooted desire to crusade against misogyny - or else she would never have defended Peter Slipper. 

Rather, it was about her majority in the Australian House of Representatives. 

Gillard has a majority of 2. Peter Slipper, the speaker, was an independent. Now he has resigned, one of her own party has become the non voting Speaker, cutting the majority to just one.

Aha - you may say, surely Mr Slipper, even as an independent , will support the PM given her spirited defence of him in the House.

Sadly, it would seem Mr Slipper may be a little more slippery than that. Here's what he said after he resigned...

He also praised both Gillard and Abbott, saying he held nothing against the leader of the opposition whom he described as "a fine character".
Of Gillard he said: "I think it is a singular privilege to have a lady of the amazing stamina that we have as prime minister."

It would appear he has decided to play both sides. I suspect Miss Gillard knew this - which is why she didn't want him to resign and halve her majority.

So - while I applaud and agree with all Julia's fine words, her staunch defence of this man and his sexist texts, who in political terms appears slippery as a greased pig, does rather make me doubt her motives


  1. http://carons-musings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/australian-pm-gillard-makes-mincemeat.html

    I have a slightly different view of this. I think more than anything else she was going for the hypocrisy of the Leader of the Opposition, who was having a good old go at Peter Slipper, but who had been his great buddy until relatively recently.

    She doesn't actually say that much in Slipper's defence, although she is opposing the motion. Her words are chosen very carefully. And it gave her a wonderful opportunity to trash the Leader of the Opposition for his part in the Ditch the Witch stuff - and also by association for the awful remarks made about her father's death.

    There is, of course low politics about this. When you have a government with a majority of 2, one vote going from neutral to potentially the other side is something to be very worried about. She's also lost one of her own MPs to be the new Speaker.

    One thing you very quickly learn as a woman in the world of politics is that there are sexist men in all parties. Especially your own. I doubt Julia Gillard has a vastly different experience in that regard.

  2. I quite agree with everything she said - and I bet she's suffered some bad experiences as well, no doubt. You can hardly mistake the passion in her voice.

    But, given what Peter Slipper said, would she have voted against the motion if she had a majority of 20? I doubt it.

    As I said - all the right words. But I suspect the wrong reasons...

  3. Well, if she had voted for the motion, she could effectively have been handing power to the very people she was berating - who clearly deserve every word she said.

    So, maybe the right reasons after all.