October 10, 2012 | Graham

Culture, class now gender wars – Labor’s losing trifecta

Whoever thought that it was a good idea for the government to label Tony Abbott a misogynist ought to think again. It’s a losing strategy. It will antagonise blue-collar conservative voters, the voters who actually decide elections in Australia

In 1996 Paul Keating lost as heavily as he did partly because he broke his word on the “L.A.W. law” tax cuts which were legislated but never delivered, but also partly because of his role as a cultural warrior.

Working class conservatives abhorred his positions on a whole range of issues which crystalised during the first Howard term in support for One Nation.

They felt strangers in their own country and disrespected by the government and elite opinion because they held unfashionable views on morality, aboriginal affairs, asylum seekers and the economy.

This resentment erupted at the ballot box and has simmered away ever since.

Kim Beazley was a smart and decent politician, so as opposition leader he never fell into the culture war traps, and got two credible results measured by the percentage of the vote he won, even if he fell well-short on the seats.

Latham wasn’t so smart and not only indulged in culture warfare, but broadened the front to class. His declaration of war on private schools during the 2004 election probably cost him more support than anything else he did that election, leading to a 1.4% swing against Labor.

Kevin Rudd again was smarter and used his country roots and religious beliefs to assure blue-collar conservatives that he was really one of them. Their realisation that he wasn’t was why his poll figures plunged so suddenly and precipitately.

Not only has Gillard revived the culture wars, epitomised by an ineffective policy on asylum seekers and an alliance with the Greens that has seen parliament vote on issues such as gay marriage, but Treasurer Wayne Swan has reopened the class wars.

To that Julia Gillard and the “hand bag squad” have now added gender wars.

Tony Abbott was not smart to use the words “die of shame” in the parliamentary debate yesterday, although I accept he did it in the heat of the moment not hearing in his inner ear their peculiar resonance of the last two weeks.

But Gillard was even dumber to accuse him of misogyny when she said:

The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynist are not appropriate for high office.

Well I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and is writing out his resignation.

Tony Abbott does have a woman problem, but it is that women don’t like him as much as men do, it is not that he personally disrespects them. I know a couple of women from Abbott’s inner circle, and the fact that they are as personally influential with him as they are speaks for itself.

Conservative blue-collar voters, particularly males, resent the feminist diatribe, particularly as they feel they have been marginalised by it, and that it is often used to cover other agendas (as it is in this case).

They are specially resentful that those who use this technique often simultaneously assert the equality of women with men at the same time that they ask for special privilege.

I see that Gillard’s speech has met with enthusiastic applause from overseas with one source even calling her a “badass motherf***er”.

So much for the world, domestically it will only lead to tears.


Posted by Graham at 3:09 am | Comments (12) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Kevin Rudd never convinced me he was one of us ‘working class, every-day Australians.

    I knew he was a tosser from the start, although he did proven me wrong by becoming Labor’s leader.

    Comment by Chris Lewis — October 10, 2012 @ 9:43 am

  2. Totally agree with you Graham. As a woman (not suffering memory loss), I find it completely disenginious of any female in a position of authority to use the feminist card. That “battle” was fought and won three decades ago. The fact that we have a female PM proof of that.

    How dare the “handbag squad” when criticised for their abysmal ineptitude bring out the gender card and assume 21st Century women are going to thank them for it? It demeans us all.

    As far as Wayne Swan’s class war is concerned, he’s catapulted Australia back to the 1950’s ~ alas we can’t send him back there!

    Comment by Just Me — October 10, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  3. Graham,
    I suggest you read Chrys Stevensen’s blog about the appalling behaviour of the three men on Monday night’s QandA program.
    Chrys also wrote an excellent comment on the attitude of Archbishop Jensen to Catherine Deveny when they were on the same program together a few weeks ago.
    As one who studies word clouds the actual word and interruption counts in both those programs should be of interest to you.
    Yesterday Tony Abbott’s choice of the word shame shows his thoughts parallel those of Alan Jones.
    I listened to Question Time yesterday and while not supporting Peter Slipper I thought Julia Gillard nailed Tony Abbott’s behaviour accurately.

    Comment by John Turner — October 10, 2012 @ 9:48 am

  4. I saw Q&A John, and I’d suggest that it wouldn’t have mattered whether Ellis was male or female she would have been treated much the same way.

    Chrys’s analysis is fairly shallow. Pyne and Tanner dominated proceedings, but that’s their job, not misogyny.

    Counting up numbers of words and interruptions doesn’t prove anything in terms of gender politics unless you have some sexist language to complement it.

    I participate in these sorts of panels too, and you need to be prepared to give as good as you get. I think the message from Q&A is that Ellis needs to lift her game, and possibly that both Tanner (a former Labor colleague) and Pyne (Liberal) don’t hold her in high regard.

    To say that is misogynistic is to say that males can never debate a woman on equal terms because if they treat her like they would a man, then they are being sexist.

    I should also note that sometimes being the less aggressive and less disruptive works in your favour.

    But it would be a pretty poor world where only women were allowed to be dominant because men being dominant is deemed sexist.

    Comment by Graham — October 10, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  5. There is no doubt that this present Labor Govt is the worst in living memory.They have to go.

    However the point that is missed by most,is that on the really important issues of sovereignity,financial independance,over regulation,bloated bureaucracies and the wars of imperialism we are presently involved with, both parties agree on perpetuating policies that really diminish our quality of life and freedoms.

    It is the old divide and conquer tactic of using the left/right paradigm to confuse and manipulate the masses.

    Presently it is just a choice of the lesser of two evils.

    Comment by Ross — October 10, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

  6. […] this political tactic of portraying Abbott as a “misogynist” will not benefit the Labor Party in the long term. Conservative blue collar voters, particularly males, will resent the Julia for her using her gender […]

    Pingback by Our National “Badass Mother****er!” « Gen Why Politics — October 10, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

  7. You hit the nail on the head, Graham. In this article you have exercised great analytical skills. Gender card is waved every time JG & her “hand bag squad” are floundering. Having risen to the most powerful position, Gillard is only keen to maximise the’victim’ plea. What a shame ….oooops I should’t have used this word “shame” nor should I ever criticise any female (however valid, warranted & factual) in case I get accused of being something or other. Abbott is not my cup of tea but he can never be a ‘women hater” (ie misogynist) with a loving wife and three beautiful, smart and well mannared daughters. Abbott’s deputy is also a female. Gillard knows this but she is trying to sling this ‘misogynist mud’ hoping that it would stick. Gillard is in a desperate situation now and her outburst in Parliament is a reflection of this. I will not be surprised if Arbib, Bitar, Shorten and Gillard are at it again…conspiring to stab anyone in the way of her power & position. Has Arbib been promised the UN position, yet? I am ashamed that I supported Labor in the past. NEVER again. This mob has left a bad taste in my mouth. The way they publicly attacked and humiliated the one (Rudd) who resurrected Labor from the fathomless pit is a testament to the morally bankrupt values of the present Labor. Labor eats its own! Now Labor is playing the victim card. Sick!!

    Comment by Jolly — October 11, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

  8. @J Turner
    I don’t think you watched the actual Q&A program when you refer to the “attitude of Archbishop Jensen to Catherine Deveny…” It was Deveny who was the aggressor and bully. She was actually in Jensen’s face and interrupted him constantly and rudely. She is rightfully an atheist but she should not impose her values and opinions so aggressively on others. She was also belligerent towards Reith in the refugee Q&A program. Reith was such a gentleman and so dignified. She is so ready to throw emotive labels at others who hold a different view from that of hers. How sad when we can no longer debate politely and be willing to hear the other out without throwing labels and playing the female vicitm card. I am certain that the early feminist movement was not intended for such an abuse of their efforts. There is no need to look at every situation in terms of gender. Shame to stoop that low.

    Comment by Jolly — October 11, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

  9. I don’t think Gillard needs to paint Abbott as a misogynist, he’s perfectly capable of doing that all by himself, without any help? Particularly if that female someone, is in his way or stalling his ambitions?
    Moreover, it’s traditionally a sign of desperation or weakness of both, when one has to resort to wheeling out the wee Wifie and the bairns, just to present a polly, as just a warm and cuddly father figure?
    [It may be just barely possible, that you treat those you love just a little differently from your political foes?]
    The public may be just a bit brighter than those who organise these shams, and probably underlines why today’s pollies are held in such low regard.
    I would have a much higher regard for Tony and his public volunteering, if it wasn’t ever accompanied by the glare of, [look at me look at me, I’m really such a nice bloke,] publicity.
    Common courtesy and civility cost nothing, and might have won Tony a few more friends, than the endless negativity and way over the top, scare campaigns?
    That said, I hope he wins the next election and has the courage to unlock some of the very low carbon assets we own, in some of our north-east submerged mountains! and which could, just by themselves, not only retire our quite massive foreign debt burden, but prevent us from joining the new great depression loitering on the horizon? He is arguably the only one with a big enough budgie smuggler, to buck the howls and screams from the far left and the “green” movement?
    We as never before need pragmatists, rather than idealogs locked in a policy paradigm straight jacket, of their own making or locked and bolted mindset?
    We’ve seen what tiny Singapore has been able to do, just with the iron-willed application of pragmatism!
    Think, imagine what we could do, with that policy pragmatism harnessed to our huge natural resources, inside a ideology free zone?
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — October 11, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  10. It’s amazing how welded on Labor types howl about Tony Abbott’s sexism and rudeness, then use sexist and rude phrases calling him a budgie smuggler. Hypocrisy and self-delusion must be prerequisites for becoming a True Believer.

    Comment by Dr Arthur — October 12, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  11. Everyone is afraid to say Abbott is a right wing roman catholic with all its baggage that is embedded in this philosophy of life. He is against family planning, women’s right to chose and expounds male domination.He ignores the social problems within his church that result from the narrow Vaticun view that aims to control us all.

    Comment by Mary J — October 18, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  12. […] the time of that first misogyny speech I predicted it would “all end in tears“, but for a while her position seemed to be holding […]

    Pingback by I’m a man, and I vote « Ambit Gambit — June 18, 2013 @ 6:58 am

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