April 28, 2005 | Graham

Joh would want the demonstrators there.

I see that Brian Laver, Dan O’Neil, Garry McLennan, and Sam Watson are planning to picket Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s funeral in Kingaroy next week. Joh would have approved.
There are two men that I learnt more from about political campaigning than any others – Wayne Swan and Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Swan showed me what to do – run a tightly focussed, disciplined campaign with a simple message incessantly repeated. Bjelke-Petersen showed me what not to do – in general the public aren’t interested in high principles and accusations of corruption, so run on the things they are interested in; and demonstrations and overt aggression are almost always counterproductive.
Joh loved demonstrations and went out of his way to provoke them because they helped to keep him in power – the demonstrators won no new converts and tended to push uncommitted voters Joh’s way.
If the mooted demonstration turns up at Joh’s funeral it will have the same effect as demonstrations did during his lifetime: more people than otherwise will feel sympathy for him and his family.
While generally on the side of the demonstrators, I learnt from their failures in the 70s and 80s. I’d like to think that the four organisers have too, and that they are just planning this for old times sake to help to give the old bastard a good send off. Fat chance. And the left wonder why they are irrelevant today!

Posted by Graham at 9:23 am | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. You are right Graham on this point, as you are on most points. A far better tactic than a picket line would be to play ‘Star Wars – Imperial March’ with loudspeakers from the Kingaroy town hall. Hardly the sort of thing that would turn people against the violent oncouth protesters. By the way what did you make of The Australians coverage of the life of Sir Joh? They gave him and even themselves a good battering.

    Comment by Benno — April 28, 2005 @ 11:25 am

  2. Yes, some interesting reading in Crikey today about the Australian and the Joh for PM push. I am trying to take my own advice and refrain from speaking ill of the dead, at least until after the funeral, but there is no doubt Joh was corrupt in the general and specific senses of the word and his only saving grace was that preceding Labor Premiers and governments had been just as corrupt. This was a fact that my father relied on when I had arguments with him about Joh during the 70s and 80s, and undoubtedly allowed Joh to get away with more than he might otherwise.

    Comment by Graham Young — April 28, 2005 @ 2:57 pm

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