Friday, 28 June 2013

Gillard ousted for pro-abortion speech? It's a nice fantasy but...

There have been a number of stories on blogs around the world claiming that Julia Gillard's ouster as Prime Minister was a response to her pro-abortion speech at the 'Women for Gillard' launch.

Lifesite's disingenuous reporting

I normally like Lifesite News.  But its report on this subject is totally disingenuous, particularly given its lauding of Opposition leader Mr 'Safe, Legal and Rare' Abbott, draws the moral that "Once again, it has been shown that being pro-abortion is not a vote winner in Australian politics."

It's a nice fantasy.

Unfortunately it just doesn't reflect reality in my view.

Ms Gillard's speech certainly didn't help her cause.

But surely wasn't really because it outraged the pro-life sentiments of Australians.

Rather, it was because it was seen even by most of Australia's hard core feminists as a cynical, clumsy and desperate last-ditch effort to capitalise on the one issue that had actually played well for her in the media, namely the rude and sexist treatment of her by many.   Most feminists felt her speech, endlessly mocked for its reference to men wearing blue ties (which amounts to pretty much all of them on both sides of politics!) undermined the cause rather than helped it.    


Here is the thing.

Ms Gillard got the chop because her party was set to be annihilated in the upcoming Federal election.

And the man who made Mr Rudd's coup possible, Bill Shorten MP (who also knifed Rudd in the previous coup), though a Catholic is seemingly pro-abortion - indeed his wife was one of the lead players in the Woman for Gillard/Emily's List push.

Ms Gillard is indeed pro-abortion, agnostic and unmarried/living in sin (though opposed to same-sex 'marriage').

But that wasn't what lost her the support of the party or the Australian public.

After all, for all the claimed conservatism on abortion in Australia, it is legal in every State, subsidised under (Federal) Medicare, and some States, like Ms Gillard's home state of Victoria, allow late term abortions with no conscience exemption for medical professionals.

Moreover, her official opponent, Mr Abbott, has in recent months, in order to establish his credentials with women, undertaken not to change the law on abortion and other related subjects (indeed it seems he has given active support to the use of IVF 'treatment' by his staff).

No, Ms Gillard got the chop because she could not get any traction with the public on her broader policy agenda, and just wasn't seen as effective against Opposition leader Abbott, and every attempt to change her image seemed to flop.

The classic example of mixed messages was the pro-abortion speech in the same week she was photographed in a soft styled domestic scene, knitting a present for the soon to come royal baby!

That 70s stuff

It is true though, that Ms Gillard seemed to represent an outdated paradigm for Labor.

Under her leadership, they tried a number of old-style 70s plays - old-style class warfare, propping up Australia's failed car manufacturing sector and more.  The old style feminism 'hands off my body' speech was just one more predictable line from the same songbook.

It was, apart from anything else, a rejection of the legacy of the reforming Hawke/Keating years.

It will be interesting to see if apostate gay-marriage supporter Mr Rudd can do any better in selling a Labor values package.

He didn't last time around, managing to lose the media war on what should have been a no-brainer on a super-profits tax on the mining sector.

And this time around he will have to contend with the outrage felt by many women at Gillard's dumping who may not have liked her much, or agreed with her on abortion, but certainly did find some resonance with her comments about sexism in Australia.


PM said...

As I have said before, Lifesite's praise for Abbott is all too typical of a tendency towards an uncritical alliance with the political right - poltical conservatives are deemed to be 'pro-life' even when they're not!

The Loon said...

Abbott/Libs, when compared to Rudd/Labor, the lesser of two evils?

Kate Edwards said...

A Canberra Observer commented:

So often some in the right to life movement weaken their/our position by overreaching.