The sacrifices one must make (part 2): should Gillard resign for the good of the nation? Yes.

My post on whether or not Julia Gillard should stand aside  as Prime Minister got a little attention. But it was not an easy thing to suggest, especially given the vitriol and hatred the Prime Minister has experienced. I do not wish to “let the bastards win”. No one does.

But what matters now is the future of nation, the skeletal climate change policy framework we have only just begun to implement and a genuine contest of ideas.

There are times when personal careers have to be sacrificed.

This is such a time.

The editors of The Age have come to similar conclusions, arguing for “the good of the nation” Julia Gillard must stand aside:

It is time for Julia Gillard to stand aside as leader of the federal parliamentary Labor Party, as Prime Minister of Australia, so that vigorous, policy-driven democratic debate can flourish once again. Ms Gillard should do so in the interests of the Labor Party, in the interests of the nation and, most importantly, in the interests of democracy. The Age’s overriding concern is that, under Ms Gillard’s leadership, the Labor Party’s message about its future policies and vision for Australia is not getting through to the electorate. Our fear is that if there is no change in Labor leadership before the September 14 election, voters will be denied a proper contest of ideas and policies – and that would be a travesty for the democratic process.

And that:

The opposition under Tony Abbott has contentious policies on the carbon tax, the mining tax and schools funding; these are just the start of it. Yet Labor under Ms Gillard has been unable to step up to the contest. Mr Abbott is being allowed to run almost entirely unchallenged with his preposterous claim that a Coalition government would ”stop the boats”, in part by turning back the pathetic trail of rickety vessels laden with asylum seekers. This is a potentially dangerous and deeply dispiriting approach. Labor’s inability to unscramble this sloganeering is damning.

Time is running out. Labor needs to refresh its public face and present a compelling, united and inspiring voice. It is capable of doing so. Now it must find the will. There may only be one chance to minimise the damage that appears inevitable in September. To do nothing would implicitly weaken the democratic choice. If it is to be done, it is best done now. But it must be an unequivocal and energising change for the better.

There was nothing prescient in what I wrote, nor do I think the MSM pays much attention to bloggers such as myself. Farifax’s Sydney Morning Herald said the same thing a few weeks back.

It is simply that I am not alone in reading the situation or the risks should Labor continue to be led by Julia Gillard. Commentators across all sections of the media and on both sides can see the writing on the wall.

Is it fair? No.

Did Gillard deserve to be treated with respect? Yes.

Was she handed an extraordinarily difficult situation? Yes.

Was overt sexism a feature of the attacks on her? Yes.

Was the malice of the shock jocks and News Limited a factor? Yes.

As a nation, we need to reflect on just how toxic the level of debate has become these past few years. I lay much of the blame on News Limited and the Coalition. But the blame also rests with the Labor Party, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan.

The nexus for all this strife began when the “kitchen sink” cabinet that included Swan and Gillard convinced Rudd not to take us to a double dissolution election on the carbon price. At that time the public and mood of the nation was with them.

But they blinked, they thought they could ditch a policy which helped deliver them office in 2007. Since then Labor has been paying the price for the failure of the first iteration of the ETS under Rudd.

They thought we lived in a time of “politics as usual”.

Politics has been reshaped by climate change: it is time to acknowledge that reality.

This is the new normal on so many fronts.

If you want to proportion blame then start with this decision. 

Julia’s finest hour, and the speech that will be her enduring legacy:

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8 thoughts on “The sacrifices one must make (part 2): should Gillard resign for the good of the nation? Yes.

  1. Sou says:

    Very sad day. Personally I think that Labor has now formally handed over to Tony Abbott.

    Swan gone, Gillard gone and probably Craig Emerson gone. Julia Gillard will go on to do more great things, maybe internationally. She is only starting out. Rudd isn’t that much older, but IMO this is his swansong.

    • “Very sad day. Personally I think that Labor has now formally handed over to Tony Abbott.”

      I’m not so sure. I think this change will bring the ALP back into the contest. I’m not convinced it will be enough to secure a victory in September, but we should be more confident that Abbott won’t have control of both houses. It’s a shame — Gillard was never given a fair chance by the media. Her achievements have been entirely overshadowed by three years of “Will Kevin challenge again?!” The ALP was in a situation where to continue with her as leader would have meant several months of the media driving them into the ground and electoral oblivion. With Rudd at the helm, there’s a chance the narrative may shift to “Rudd vs Abbott”, and we might actually see some analysis of the policies and agendas of the two major parties that we’ll be voting for. It should be an interesting couple of months.

  2. Chris O'Neill says:

    The nexus for all this strife began when the “kitchen sink” cabinet that included Swan and Gillard convinced Rudd not to take us to a double dissolution election on the carbon price.

    The last thing Rudd opponents like Swan would have wanted at that time was Rudd winning another election. Their best chance to get rid of him was near the end of an electoral term. Having another Rudd election win would have wiped that chance out for much longer than they wanted.

  3. roymustard says:

    IMO Gillard needs to either stand down or reform the Labor Party. I will support whomever vows to bring down the toxic factions and return the party to its members, but I fear Gillard and her backers just don’t have the gumption since it’s the factions who engineered her coup in the first place.

    What I didn’t like about the editorial was the way it blamed Gillard for the media’s own failings in refusing to hold the opposition to account for their many outlandish claims and lack of policies. Where was The Age when Whyalla wasn’t wiped out? Why aren’t The Age going harder on Abbott’s refusal to answer questions at press conferences? On his appearance, in clean uniform, at a fire of another unit than his own? On his claims that he will “stop the boats” within one term despite record numbers of asylum seekers worldwide? Or the concern trolling over asylum seekers and the need for harsh conditions for “compassion” instead of their main concern – security? Where has The Age been? It’s been been following the lead and reporting on the non-scandal of Gillard’s past because the editors are terrified of showing “bias”. It’s been publishing numerous political op-eds from Liberal Party members.

    I think The Age editors should stand down.

  4. Malamuddy says:

    I find the suggestion that Gillard should step aside for Rudd more than passing strange. The only thing I can see improving the chances of Labor is Rudd getting over the hissy fit, calling off the serial leakers (“informed sources” my elbow) and taking an unconditional stand behind the woman who has to be the toughest and, in many ways, most successful, Prime Minister Australia has ever seen. This would give her, and the clear majority of the party the opportunity to repair the gap that is killing their electoral chances.

    Opting for Rudd gives the opposition what they want most, a soft and prevaricating target with the script for personal attacks already written when many in the party finally lost patience with Rudd on his third attempt and told it like it was to be a part of his cabinet. It says to the electorate that Labor has run up the white flag on all the critically important reforms that they have introduced, including the Carbon Price. It says, as clearly as it could possibly be said , that they are more concerned with political short-termism than principle.If they lose in those circumstances the conservatives have the green light to dismantle five important years of progressive reforms.

    While the Nielsen polls (n=1200, landline polling) are not good for Labor, the more reliable but unreported Morgan Gallup polls (n=3300 and a more diverse data collection strategy) show increasing support for Labor. While it currently would give an election to the conservatives, I do not believe that we can. 90 odd days away from the event declare it a dead rubber.

    Furthermore, if Abbott is our next Prime Minister, over the next three years the USA, China, India and many others will be forced by events to ramp up their response to global warning. Countries like Australia and Canada that are going in the opposite direction will be more and more isolated. His inevitable failure, even with the most inhumane policies, to stop the boats and policy disasters like NBN-lite and no-Gonski, Abbott will get the reputation of an intransigent know nothing who took us from the lead in these areas to the back of the peleton. All the three word slogans the spin meisters can invent will not be able to save him from being seen as a disaster and the LNP as a Republican sized irrelevancy.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      I don’t dispute your points, my thinking is centered around the elections following the Federal one of this year: the Senate and the next HoR election. I see it as a case of damage control: the greater the LNP margin measured either in 2PP or seats in the HoR will have an impact on how much latitude they have to strip enviro laws and the ETS. Smaller margin gives them less room to move, and a less thumping mandate to claim it is “in Australia’s interest” to ax-the-tax and remove environmental protections.

  5. I don’t know whether you can call this Julia’s golden hour. It seems like she has lost her cool after all the provocations she received from the boys across the bench…

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