Rats get caught in the same mess

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 

Gillard gets ready to talk policy with the Women's Weekly

Annabel Crabb has continued the introspection and self-criticism that seems to have overcome some in the Press Gallery since the election. It basically runs along the line from some in the blogosphere, and repeated by Gillard on Insiders on Sunday, that the Press Gallery is focussing too much on trivia and not enough on policy.

Such self-criticism right now seems odd. After all, it is hard to think of politics being so trivialised as it was by the major parties in the election we’ve just had. It wasn’t the press that decided to slap the make-up on Gillard, do her hair and have her sprawling about on lounges for the Women’s Weekly, an extraordinary way to treat the office of Prime Minister of Australia. It was deliberate Labor tactics, after a couple of nods to western Sydney, to dumb down the campaign and let it all rest on a isn’t-it-terrific-we-have-a-new-Prime-Minister-who-happens-to-a-woman meme.

Gillard claimed on Sunday that Labor’s campaign focussed on the economy. But that only came after the whole ‘keep it light’ tactic fell apart in the disastrous second week. As it was, the ‘economic debate’ was really about showing there wasn’t one, namely that Coalition attempts to present an economic alternative was a fraud carried out with rubbery figures.

This sense of responsibility that seems to be worrying the press really came out of two events during the campaign that had actually more to do with the weakness of the political class than naughty behaviour by the press. The first were the leaks reported by Oakes and Hartcher that triggered a collapse in government polling. It was not really the leaks themselves that were such a big deal; that Cabinet was worried about the cost of the PPL scheme would be immediately apparent to anyone who compared Labor’s stingy scheme against what passes for normal around the rest of the world. The polling slump was more because it exposed the hollowness in the government that first led it to dump a leader on a flimsy pretext and that now looked to be reverberating back and getting out of control.

The second event that caused the press angst, especially for some more senior reporters, was the appearance of Latham. Once again the sight of a rogue former leader surely says more about the state of the party he led, than the TV station that employed him. Latham made some in the press especially uncomfortable as it blurred the line between politics and the media – but that is exactly the point. The press are hardly blameless, but is the standard of reporting really deteriorating faster than the politics it’s covering?

The angst is more a sign that the relationship between the media and the political class is changing. For forty years we have had what would be best described as a non-partisan press. This does not mean it has been unbiased, far from it. But it does mean it has generally been careful to be seen as non partisan.

It wasn’t always so. For at least the first half of the last century, the Australian press generally wore its political allegiances on its sleeve, from protectionist v free trade in the earlier years of Federation, to the more upfront opposition to organised labour, especially by the qualities in Sydney and Melbourne. Papers that represented the voice of the metropolitan establishment, like the Sydney Morning Herald, had no qualms about calling for a vote against Labor election after election.

It was in the post Menzies period in the late 1960s, however, that things started to change. The establishment itself began no longer speaking with one voice. Issues like allegiance to Britain and the Monarchy, the White Australia Policy and the segregation of indigenous people, all for which there had normally been an iron-clad consensus, came up for contention. While re-thinking was already evident on the Coalition side, it was the rise of Whitlam in Labor that signalled the change in the outlook political class as he began the modernising project that has occupied the political class until Rudd.

In the press the change in thinking was marked by the switch of the Melbourne Age to a more small-l liberal paper under Graham Perkin. However, the clearest protagonist for this change in the media was the rise of Murdoch. With his grudge against the Melbourne establishment for the dumping of his father from the Herald and Weekly board, Murdoch starting with the Adelaide News, but more importantly, with the launch of The Australian in 1964, signalled a new model in the Australian media that would be replicated elsewhere in the world.

In a way, Murdoch was Whitlam’s mirror. Whitlam’s modernising project effectively began the distancing of the major parties from their social base as he began cutting Labor’s ties with the union movement. Murdoch’s business model was developed around what that meant for the media.

Murdoch’s business model is often misunderstood. Most notably the confusion comes around what are seen as his ‘vanity’ projects, like The Australian, The London Times and the Wall Street Journal. On their own, the economics of these papers are doubtful. But what they do, however, is buy political influence with a political class that is becoming more detached from its social base and so more vulnerable to media influence as to what society ‘really’ thinks.

The power of the media often gets over-stated. Ultimately people form their views based on their experiences. The media may influence how those experiences are interpreted, but ultimately are limited by what those experiences are. The media cannot make things up out of thin air and be credible. However, one reason why the media’s power tends to be exaggerated is the hollowing out of the political process. The more detached from a social base, the more insecure is the political class and the more it understands it as losing a “battle of ideas” through the media.

In Australia, a key turning point came in 1975. What exactly Whitlam’s project of cutting Labor’s ties from its social base would actually mean, especially during a time of economic turmoil, raised uncomfortable questions for the left. These could be hid not only behind the Dismissal but also the virulent press campaign, especially from the Murdoch stable, that turned against a government it had supported to power.

After 1975, it became much easier for the left to exaggerate the power of Murdoch than the realities of what was happening to Labor. Ironically, this attack by the left on Murdoch only helped his business. It made a struggling national newspaper of insignificant readership appear like a major source of influence. Over the years, especially during the Howard years, which raised even more questions about the future of the left, Murdoch and a stable of right wing ‘thinkers’ seemed to have more influence than they really had, supported by a left only too willing to find excuses for their problems in the ‘MSM’.

One way The Australian negotiates this influence, especially with such a small readership, is with Newspoll. It may not have much influence on how the electorate thinks, but it can at least tell a detached political class what it actually is that the electorate is thinking. The influence of Newspoll over the political class is an asset it ferociously guarded when it was questioned by psephology bloggers in the run up to the 2007 election.

But the sensitivity around Newspoll highlights a contradiction in this model that was starting to become evident even in the final stages of the Howard government. The problem in the left, that had so supported Murdoch’s business model, was becoming more evident in the right. While the press were feeding off the weakness of the political class, they were getting caught up in it as well.

For the liberal Fairfax press, this was already long evident. As Labor’s modernising project wound up during the Keating years, ending up with the republican debacle of 1999, the Fairfax press, especially The Age, became lifestyle shadows of their former selves. The right and the right press went on to have an Indian summer under Howard that came to an end under Rudd

By by-passing the normal political power bases, Rudd exposed the problem of the media. Because if the political class was detached, the media was as well. The press gallery was reliant on political power bases that were now being side-lined. It was why Rudd’s highly popular agenda against the normal political channels was so incomprehensible to a press that were so reliant on them.

In the end, those power bases, and the media, had their revenge as the faction leaders leaked to the press to undermine Rudd, in a way that another victim of the tactic, Morris Iemma, so well described. This earlier leaking of course we are all supposed to forget as we blame the campaign leaks, and implicitly Rudd, for Labor’s current state.

The fall of Rudd and the vacuum exposed by the election has seen some divergence in the reaction of the press. The right have been emboldened by their role in the downfall of Rudd and are now campaigning against the government that has replaced him.

The liberal press has been more introspective. However, press calls to focus more on policy show that there unlikely to be any easy fixes. The problem is in the word ‘policy’. People don’t vote for policies as such; political participation isn’t a shopping trip where you fill up your basket with the right policies. People vote for programmes, or more specifically, the parties that are supposed to reflect their interests through those programmes. Policies might be all we have on offer in the new Parliament but it is more likely that whatever the press does, many voters will switch off altogether than be absorbed by the fascinating toing and froing of a handful of independents.

The right seems to have no introspection but is likely to suffer from the same problem of detachment. There have been reasonable comparisons made between what News Ltd are doing here and their role in the Tea Party movement in the States. But what is distinctive about this campaigning compared to what News Ltd did during the Whitlam years is the weakness of the political right. Indeed in Australia, and in the US, the right media are almost looking to take the place of it. But it can’t. It can no more make a social movement out of thin air, or the “battle of ideas” than the political right can. What we have is the right, both political and in the media, caught up in the same delusions that have taken the left nowhere for so many years.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Tuesday, 14 September 2010.

Filed under Media analysis

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Comments

41 responses to “Rats get caught in the same mess”

  1. Riccardo on 14th September 2010 10:25 am

    Excellent to see your media post finally arrive!

    I’m glad you’ve demolished the meme of the ‘golden age of unbiased journalism’ – people too young to know about Keith Murdoch or Frank Packer, men who were much worse than their sons or grandsons in terms of partisanship.

    All countries have a somewhat partisan press – whether Figaro in Paris, the Times in London, the communist Wen Wei Bao newspaper in Hong Kong, or the lapdog Straits Times in Singapore.

    The two major newspapers in Tokyo have respectively always called for the re-election of, or the dismissal of the dominant LDP governments, over 50 years.

    The DPP government in Taiwan was said to have not won the election before last, simply because pro-KMT newspapers said they didn’t win, when that wasn’t true – and riots took place on the streets simply because the KMT supporters believed what their newspapers said. That’s a far worse case of confected ‘illegitimacy’ than stupid comments by our Libs on the ALP. To lie about the election result on the front page!

    So we are a long way from the most base partisanship that the world sees, and I suspect this relates to your frequent comment that Australians don’t see how they are related to world events.

    The one thing you haven’t mentioned though is the role of the ABC, and perceptions of partisanship. My take on it is not partisanship, just going downmarket. Opinions as news, politics as entertainment and unsourced reporting are just an effort to keep up with the Joneses.

  2. James on 14th September 2010 10:27 am

    The Murdoch press clearly spooked and manipulated the government and large chunks of the media jumped on the wagon.

    I think the Murdoch press played a large role in convincing Caucus it was a good idea to dump Rudd and used Newspoll as a tool to do it.

    The parallel with the Murdoch press and the Whitlam and Rudd Governments is interesting, in terms of turning against governments that elements of the stable had supported, such as the Daily Telegraph.

    It wasn’t suprising that commercial televison media towed the News Limited Line but the pro Abbott focus among elements of the ABC was a surprise. The ABC shift became particularly evident at Budget time this year with Mark Simpkin setting a tone that continued throughout the stable.

    I think it’s fair to be critical of the government for its light approach but I think it’s been judged far too harshly in that respect compared to the Opposition and the media has been highly complicit in that.

    It’s interesting that when governments use a media strategy it’s spin but, when the media spins, people just accept that as fair game because it’s what they do.

    The media’s role in the current state of play has barely been analysed (good start by Crabb though) and consequently it deserves the biggest kick of all.

  3. john on 14th September 2010 11:18 am

    Some unions still have power. Whitlam destroyed the influence of the Left unions, but the AWU still today has a faction designed to do what it wants, and the SDA runs the South Australian branch of the party, or at least the same people run both.

  4. kymbos on 14th September 2010 1:03 pm

    “The press are hardly blameless, but is the standard of reporting really deteriorating faster than the politics it’s covering?”

    That would be setting an extraordinarily low bar!

  5. Dr_Tad on 14th September 2010 1:28 pm

    Excellent post, TPS. There was tons of stuff in it I had never heard summarised like that before.

    One of the canards of the broader Left has been using the alleged “power” of the right-wing nature of the media as a reason to water down any political program that could be criticised by the ideologues of the Right. This has driven the ALP in particular as it has searched desperately for justifications for its abandonment of any serious pretense of providing working class representation, a process that had already started under Whitlam in the late 1960s as you correctly point out.

    It has been fascinating (and disheartening) to watch some of the Greens MPs repeat the same mistakes, seeking to portray themselves as “responsible”. Last night Sarah Hanson-Young was desperate to look more middle-of-the-road establishment than the National Party. And Bob Brown last week even took the frankly ridiculous step of announcing that the Greens had not sought a cabinet post so that The Oz wouldn’t have an excuse to launch a “wrecking campaign”. Talk about giving up without even trying!

    There is a bigger issue around the divided media responses to the “new paradigm”, IMHO. Any break from the two-party neoliberal consensus of the the last 30 years is considered by some sections of the capitalist class as carrying inherent risks if they need to be able to prosecute their economic agendas. I discuss it a bit more here: http://left-flank.blogspot.com/2010/09/legitimacy-mandates-and-media.html

    It is ironic but logical that as differences between the parties narrow in the official arena, politics is becoming more polarised outside the Canberra bubble. In some ways, *real* politics (understood as competition between different social interests) is more present and more transparent than it has been for a very long time. That’s one bright side to the exhaustion of neoliberalism as a consensual political project.

  6. Graeme on 14th September 2010 2:51 pm

    Which came first: the bad eggs in the media or the feather-brained politicians?

    I’ve no qualms in laying the lionshare of the blame for that dynamic on the mainstream media, even if it is just responding to its own eroding power and the 24-7 competition for attention.

    People in their gut know this: that’s why poor journos always rate lower than politicians. http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2010/4518/

    (Perversely, it’s not the journos as much as the editorial staff who drive this. Curiously the surveys show people pour the scorn on the poor faceless newspaper journos, cutting a bit more slack to the more personalised voices and faces on tv and radio.)

  7. Graeme on 14th September 2010 2:59 pm

    ps You go in hard on Gillard. For all Gough’s gravitas, I remember as a kid being at Lang Park, c 1974, for an England v Aust rugby league international. (Senator McAuliffe was then both a Labor politician and head of the Qld Rugby League hosting the match).

    Gough strode onto the ground to huge boos even from such a working class mob.

    Point is, pollies played the circus even then; even someone like PM Whitlam who would have preferred a more classical audience.

    pps I swear it was the game at which Whitlam reputedly turned to McAuliffe and quipped ‘I didn’t realise you were so unpopular, Comrade’

  8. john Willoughby on 14th September 2010 4:40 pm

    policy paralysis by over analysis and the use of focus groups
    as the catalyst for ideas rather than putting ideas to groups and working out what is required to sway them to thinking through to a desirable outcome, its called leadership.

  9. The Piping Shrike on 14th September 2010 4:52 pm

    James, I think the Murdoch press did have a role in undermining caucus’s confidence in Rudd. As for the impact it had on the rest of us, it’s another question. The problem was more the backflips those Labor nerves produced.

    On the ABC, it has such a nightmare brief. To be authoritative and unbiased! What is unbiased? How to be authoritative? Unbiased seems to be whatever the rest of the press is talking about. Authoritative seems to be solved by there being lots of it, in any form, blogs internet, 24 news channels. But what to fill it with?

    One solution seems to be to second guess the news. So we have the unexceptional event of the Foreign Minister zipping off to pay the usual homage to our major ally becoming a big deal because we all know it’s really about asserting his authority over the PM, escaping the PM etc. etc. etc.

    On Murdoch, I wanted to put a little bit more subtlety in it than just being right wing bias. In fact what makes Murdoch distinctive was his willingness to switch sides to gain influence, starting with The Australian supporting Labor compared to say the SMH which didn’t call for a vote for Labor until 1984.

    This year it reached the point of schizophrenia, nominating Rudd as Australian of the year because of the way he handled the GFC – then spending the rest of the year attacking him because of, er, the incompetent way he handled the GFC.

  10. john on 14th September 2010 5:41 pm

    Shrike,

    It’s been argued that the Australian was the proxy for Rudd’s factional enemies. I forget who, but a Labor front bencher described Arbib as a media whore.

  11. The Piping Shrike on 14th September 2010 6:00 pm

    A very sticky and unhealthy relationship.

  12. john on 14th September 2010 8:14 pm

    In relation to the article, it’s not just the party that doesn’t represent the workers’ interests. Some unions like the SDA and AWU will sell out their members for increased membership or influence.

  13. The Piping Shrike on 14th September 2010 10:31 pm

    I’ve never seen the Labor party represent worker interests as such, but rather the union leadership. Labor’s dilemma then is dealing with the weakening influence and growing irrelevance of the union leadership.

  14. john on 14th September 2010 11:28 pm

    It’s the embourgeoisement. The goals of the labour movement are also what leads to its irrelevance. The party and political apparatus of the Right remain, and some kind of ideology has to become the agenda. Swedish social democracy, or Eurocommunism, or even South American style Left Nationalism. We could even see the Left institute it’s agenda for the lack of anything else to do.

  15. Riccardo on 15th September 2010 12:29 pm

    What does a society not based on manufacturing actually do for social representation?

    Globalisation of division of labour is not a new thing and according to my HK history book, manufacturing unsophisticated goods was cheaper there even in the 1850s than it was here, or in the UK. We did not need a manufacturing industry.

    People think in a straight line – we have workers, therefore the workers need industrial representation – but what happens if the relationship is backwards. If the protectionists manipulated the system so that we had a manufacturing industry, where none was required, and therefore then needed unions to represent them.

    The real industrial history is closer to the Robe River or Muginberry flavour – that we had a lot of RURAL workers who needed representation, because frontier life, dominated by a couple of squatters or mine owners, was so unpleasant as to require representation. But a city-based union movement was never necessary, because cities did not need manufacturing. This was our own conceit.

    The main problem with this country is not really knowing what it is for. Is it a dumping ground for the refuse of Europe? A sanctuary for persecuted religious groups? A settlement colony consciously planned? Or a plantation or extraction colony? A utopic ideal society? An exercise for its own sake?

    All of our policies end up confused, like a compass needle around a magnet, because of this lack of direction. And because of this, we ended up with industries like manufacturing we didn’t need, an paraphenalia like industrial representation that goes with it.

    A form of eddy current feudalism, going against the long term trend.

  16. 1gmd on 15th September 2010 2:27 pm

    Just a quick observation of the Gallery’s navel gazing – I find it astounding that not one additional woman was brought into the ministry in spite of the fab four facelees men getting their stripes and not a comment from either the Gallery or the commentariate.

  17. The Piping Shrike on 15th September 2010 7:09 pm

    Dr Tad, I read your post. Interesting. I think where we differ is that I would place less emphasis on the right having a neo-liberal agenda, or indeed, any agenda at all. Neo-liberal seems more about trying to take advantage of the weak legitimacy of government in general than a vigorous pushing of a free market agenda. As seen by the reaction to the GFC, we are all Chinese Communists now.

    Legitimacy is a political question, not a constitutional one in this case. However, I detect some toning down of this ‘anti-legitimacy’ line by the right. Partly, because it turns people off given that the ‘non-political’ stance of the rainbow coalition makes some sense. Secondly, the Coalition probably realises there is more than one way to skin a cat given the willingness of the independents to pick ‘n mix a programme.

    In other words, they seem to have dropped the illegitimacy line because they probably now realise it is true.

    Ricc, personally I think Australia’s national identity ‘problem’ is not a problem but a blessing (cuts all the crap).

  18. adamite on 15th September 2010 11:45 pm

    ‘The main problem with this country is not really knowing what it is for.’

    Interesting point Riccardo. One consequence of that indecisiveness seems to be the tendency to continuously recycle the fads and fashions from other cultures rather than seeking to articulate independent paradigms of cultural and political praxis. May be a product of our historical origins as a settler society, but there still seems to be a notable reluctance to abandon the security of external dependence – hence the lack of any groundswell for a republic.

  19. Dr_Tad on 16th September 2010 7:57 am

    TPS, your comment does come down to a difference between us on “neoliberalism”, but it is perhaps not as great as you think. I see neoliberalism in practice and neoliberalism in theory as two related but quite distinct phenomena, and I should post on that soon. In particular the theoretical attachment to “free markets” and a “small state” are more ideological than actual.

    I think (like you, I suspect), that the ability of either side to run on an open agenda of economic rationalist reform dried up around 1993.

  20. James on 16th September 2010 10:03 am

    I think the “cutting all the crap mentality is part of the problem,” Shrike.

    So often the definition of crap and how it should be cut is rather rum.

    And the lack of national identity is actually a big problem. It’s one of the reasons why we are so dependent on international agendas. Even Howard’s nationalism was tied to one.

    Throughout the election campaign, the debate over what was “fair dinkum”, often fell into a deluded, unhealthy cynicism that was easily manipulated by the media and politicians, thanks to a naive public.

  21. The Piping Shrike on 16th September 2010 4:41 pm

    I would see it differently. Everyone is affected by global agendas, national identity or not. Only leading powers like the US can actually influence it. I would see that as geopolitical reality.

    Most countries see that relationship through a national identity. Australia tends to be more schizo about it. On one hand we carry on like a global player (the Coalition of Three in Iraq) on the other, every political trend seems to emanate from Canberra and is never related to anything else in the world (except Britain at a push).

    But at the end of the day, national identities just mystify things. National myths are exactly that. Clarity is what’s needed. I think the good thing about Australian politics is everything is pretty up front if you care to look. It’s likely to get even clearer as I see no basis for national identity forming, except for some cheesy generalisations, which never fit anyway. It’s nice to be Australian and have no (less) baggage.

    Some people seem to be treating this neo liberal thing pretty seriously Dr Tad.

  22. James on 16th September 2010 5:02 pm

    “It’s nice to be Australian and have no baggage”. Lol, you can’t be serious:)

  23. The Piping Shrike on 16th September 2010 7:42 pm

    You like baggage? No glorious past to live up to, all future!

    On another topic, watching Downer last night was very peculiar, as was reading Sheridan. Is there some Coalition memo going around to be nice to Rudd?

  24. john on 16th September 2010 8:49 pm

    I think it’s probably a trap.

  25. The Piping Shrike on 16th September 2010 9:08 pm

    Yes, but an intriguing one. I think there’s something in it.

  26. john on 16th September 2010 10:15 pm

    Like how Andrew Bolt suddenly started to love Julia Gillard 3 months ago?

  27. Thomas Paine on 16th September 2010 10:38 pm

    The Murdoch media’s hatred of Rudd caused them to miss doing the maximum damage to Gillard.

    The obvious thing to do was relate how badly Gillard was in relation to Rudd and thus question her ability, legitimacy and moral values in knifing Rudd. It would have been an easy thing to do and built on the public disapproval of Gillard’s actions.

    The Murdoch boys couldn’t help themselves, they couldn’t bring themselves to put Rudd in a positive light, and thus got a Labor government.

    Likewise Abbott missed a game wining opportunity by not bringing Turnbull in as shadow Treasurer. That would have been enough to put the Coalition across the line.

    But all measures just fell over the line, having almost snatched a Rudd victory and converted it to a Gillard defeat.

  28. The Piping Shrike on 16th September 2010 11:44 pm

    TP, not sure that Murdoch can be that fussy. They ran with the anti-Rudd leaking they were being given.

    John, something like that. But it was strange watching Rudd at yesterday’s press conference. It was as though he was still PM. What exactly was Gillard doing that was so important? More important than humanitarian disaster? etc. etc. etc.

  29. john on 16th September 2010 11:49 pm

    I’ve always thought she not as great a politician as everyone says. She’s good at fighting with other politicians, but Rudd is better at seeming calm and authoritative.

  30. john on 17th September 2010 12:05 am

    What I mean is, maybe her political instincts aren’t keen enough to know he’s going to go around looking really good helping starving children, while she throws mud at the Libs.

  31. The Piping Shrike on 17th September 2010 12:08 am

    Similar thoughts.

  32. James on 17th September 2010 9:51 am

    I actually think the country has a lot of baggage and chunks of our society are in denial about it. Not like you to be flippant, Shrike.

  33. ewe2 on 17th September 2010 11:17 pm

    If the Coalition is depending on strategies like a Rudd and Gillard rift, they are indeed bereft of a programme. Lots of fun for the media; meanwhile the electorate waits to see if anything concrete gets done.

  34. The Piping Shrike on 17th September 2010 11:42 pm

    Depends what you mean by baggage. One of the key points about Australian politics is the lack of ‘baggage’ that the right can hide behind. Any conservatism of Australian politics comes from the left (and a contempt it often has for the electorate) not from the strength of the right (and the contempt they have for the electorate!) and their institutions. We saw that in spades with Labor’s ‘western Sydney’ campaign.

    For anyone who wants to clarify things as a way of moving things forward, that weakness is a plus, in my view. I really have little time for this pointless fretting from left-wing thinkers about Australia’s lack of national identity thingy. Clarity is what is needed, I would have thought, not self-flattering, comforting myths.

    ewe2, they are indeed bereft. But that doesn’t make the ‘rift’ less real. It is not between Rudd and Gillard as such. Rather it is what it has always been, Rudd looking to an international program, and Gillard’s reliance on Labor having a domestic one. It will be interesting to see how it pans out.

    BTW apologies for the server being down today.

  35. john on 22nd September 2010 12:44 pm

    It seems like the Brown/Blair rift; social justice and social democracy versus neoliberalism and the terror of appearing ‘left’.

  36. Riccardo on 25th September 2010 7:44 pm

    Who will mourn the departure of Red Kerry with me?

  37. The Piping Shrike on 25th September 2010 8:09 pm

    He had some good ones. Thought his last with Howard was the best.

  38. Al. on 27th September 2010 10:17 am

    Where’s my P.S. ‘fix’ ?

    Been a long time since we had a new article.

    So, what do you think of ‘Lurch’ (Frankenstein … well, the way he walks, maybe it’ s the ‘Mummy’ ? ) … reneging on the Speaker deal ?

    I thought I was a bad loser, but .. he takes it to a whole new level. Just validates the thinking that pollies in general will say anything and do anything in the short term to get a result, then tear it up.

    He’s certainly amongst the lowest of the low in my opinion. Despicable.

  39. The Piping Shrike on 27th September 2010 6:53 pm

    I know, I’ve been bit slack. Keep meaning to write something but the dross keeps floating past … I’ll try something this evening.

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