Work, Family, Nation
Gillard and Abbott race to the bottom
2 August 2010
This, surely, is the most depressing election in living memory, I thought, as I sat in the Brushtail Café, trying to warm myself with a long black and scratching through the papers.
On the mainstream side it’s a ghastly choice between a gibbering obscurantist clown who’d introduce a theocracy if he got half a chance and a smooth-talking, dog-whistling, Labor-faker. Both are foreign policy reactionaries and slavish supporters of the US alliance and the Zionist project.
Gillard and Abbott are political opportunists of the modern, trained-for-politics, variety. Abbott was one of those who, while still a student, had real trouble deciding which of the two mainstream parties he’d join. With his ultra-conservative Catholic views, he’d have been quite at home in the NSW Right, but the coin must have fallen the other way up. Gillard started on the Young Labor student “left”, and made her name fighting genuine campus left-wingers. With the politics she’s ended up with, she might as well have joined the Young Libs.
As much as Gillard claims she doesn’t want to see Howard’s anti-worker laws return, Labor’s “Fair Work” industrial relations regime ain’t much different to Howard’s WorkChoices and Gillard has taken great delight in cracking down on industry-wide bargaining and Fair Work virtually outlaws low-paid workers from taking industrial action.
Nor, after Gillard’s record on education, can we expect many teachers – traditionally an ALP demographic – from voting Labor. In fact the whole working intelligencia is likely to vote Greens 1 and if Labor gets back, it will be on Green preferences.
On the other side of the fake divide, not a few Liberals must be terrified that Abbott could become Prime Minister. If there’s any good to come out of the Rudd assassination it’s that we actually don’t live in a presidential system and that the PM can be disposed of in the blink of an eye. If the Gods are kind to us, Rudd’s demise will set a precedent and the Libs will quickly knife Abbott in favour of somebody half-rational like Joe Hockey or even Malcolm Turnbull. We should be so lucky.
As for Gillard, well, the best comment might be an anonymous image currently circulating by email. It looked oddly familiar so I had recourse to Professor Google’s image search facility and confirmed that it’s based on a Second World War poster issued by the French collaborationist Vichy regime. Gillard’s face has been substituted for Marshall Petain’s. Across the bottom a group of young people stride forward with banners aloft. In the original they’re French flags, but the Gillard version has a couple of young men in military uniform carrying big US and Israeli flags while a boy scout in short pants waves a very much smaller Australian flag. “Australian! We are partners in the New World Order” the slogan reads.
It wasn’t so much this, but the slogan “Work, Family, Nation” at the top that made me hoot with laughter. This was the mantra of Marshall Petain’s regime – their counter to the famously subversive “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, of the French republics. I laughed because, when I’d listened to Gillard’s acceptance speech – a farrago of lies and hollow corporatist slogans – I’d spontaneously wondered whether she was channeling Petain or maybe, even worse, the addled old Marshall’s vile prime minister, Pierre Laval.
Like Gillard, Laval had started off on the left but moved to the right. He was elected to parliament in 1903 as a Socialist but he slide over to the conservative right after the First World War. The joke was that this wasn’t surprising as Laval reads the same from the left or the right. Laval was a career politician who evolved as a master of the deft political work-around, of the realpolitik solution that always seemed to favour the powerful. It was as foreign minister that he first came to international attention when, together with Britain’s Conservative foreign minister Samuel Hoare, he tried to broker a deal that virtually rubber-stamped Mussolini’s brutal conquest of Ethiopia. Public outrage forced both men’s resignation so Laval went back to building a media empire and after the Nazi defeat of France in 1940 he became head of the puppet Vichy government.
By 1942 Laval was little more than an agent of the Nazis. He acquiesced in the deportation of the Jews, sent hundreds of thousands of young Frenchmen to work in German factories and headed up the brutal pro-Nazi militia, the Milice. He was arrested in1945, and shot after a perfunctory trial.