Well, over the last week and a bit, after the boil was lanced by the Labor Party and Kevin Rudd was squeezed out of the top job in the country, it seems to me that every entrail has been pored over, from the smallest blog in the land and by every Tweeter, to the analysis of the 'coup' generated by the heaviest hitters at the largest national dailies in Australia, before they paused for breath and turned their attentions to Julia Gillard. Every word spoken has been recorded, to whom and by whom, every raised eyebrow catalogued and interpreted as to its meaning. The modus operandi of the Rudd government has been explicated in detail. Not so much the modus operandi of the media and the part they played in the downfall of Kevin, sadly.
Which is exactly where I'd like to come into the conversation.
Today, I'd like to look at the way the media has used Labor turncoats, and former social progressives, against the ALP, as Judas Sheep to lead the electorate astray on behalf of the conservative side of politics.
Let me begin by explaining, conceptually, what I mean.
I began to notice a new phenomenon appearing in the media before the 2004 election between Mark Latham and John Howard. The Murdoch media had incorporated a new weapon into their armoury and deployed it effectively to attempt to destroy the Labor leader and the Labor election campaign. Chances are they are casting around for one to use against Julia Gillard right now.
The disaffected former partner, member of the ALP, or former ALP Member of Parliament.
When we cast our minds back to the 2004 Latham election, who was it that wounded Mark Latham repeatedly in front of the eyes of the voters, as they scanned their daily papers, over and above the daily grinding down contributed by the usual media suspects?
Mark Latham's former wife.
She was given a national platform whose prominence was inversely proportional to the value of her contribution to the debate when assessed by objective eyes. The Australian allowed her to regale the reader with lurid tales about the man, plus provide a running commentary and analysis of his behaviour throughout the campaign. No wonder Latham had a nervous collapse by the end of it!
I'm sure many electors came to form a large part of their opinion of him based upon her negative characterisations. For the life of me, I don't know why the bitter recriminations of a spurned spouse should have been given such prominence. Except to say that they served their purpose well.
Now, fast forward to before the elections of Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama. It was the appearance of the turncoat as critic that was again used as a tool to bludgeon them and to assail their characters. Both here in News Ltd. Publications and on Sky TV, and in America on the Fox News Network.
In America, Dick Morris, former close adviser to Bill Clinton, has become a strident critic of the Obama Administration on Fox News. Rabidly so.
In Australia, we have a few also. Firstly, let me say, before I mention any individuals specifically, what I think it is that their role has become, on behalf of the conservative cause which they are now advancing, whether they admit that that is what they are doing or not. Benignly branding it as 'analysis' cloaks its true purpose.
They are political Judas Sheep, who are being used to lead the electorate astray and the ALP to electoral slaughter, hopefully, if they do their job well for their new masters.
You will notice that the conservative media, whenever these people appear in their pages or on their screens, are punctilious about mentioning their former political incarnation with the ALP. This serves two purposes as far as I can see.
Firstly, it lends an air of legitimacy to whatever criticism they have to make about the ALP. Well, were not these people once of the ALP and do they not have the ALP in their political DNA? So there must be an element of truth to what they say??? This is the expectation that is encouraged in the minds of the unthinking as I see it anyway. But at the same time it is precisely that link to the past which has been expunged from their present political persona. Nevertheless, this commentary has a most corrosive effect on the public's perceptions of the ALP, a fact which the conservative media thus knowingly exploits mercilessly.
So, let me just run through the roll call of those who were used, and I'm not saying that they don't do it voluntarily, up until last week, when the Prime Minister of the country was deposed by his own party in a bloodless fashion which was aimed at fending off the attacks to his credibility which had mortally wounded him, like the henpecked chicken and media punching bag that he had become during the last days of the terminal decline of his Prime Ministership, and, as a consequence, his government.
Now, to specifics.
Exhibit #1: Mark Latham
With the reliable regularity of the terminally-embittered, ever since his own fall from grace at the head of the Labor Party into ignominious defeat was complete, Mark Latham has provided the generally conservative readers of the Australian Financial Review on a fortnightly basis since Kevin Rudd became leader of the ALP, the dubious benefit of his 'wisdom', gleaned from his many years on the inside of the ALP. Without question his prognostications are now taken as gospel and holy writ. No longer is he the electorally-humiliated 'Maddie' who broke a taxi driver's arm. He has been reborn.
As a conservative tool. No longer are damning assessments written about what he has to say by the likes of Janet Albrechtsen, Matthew Franklin or Dennis Shanahan in the Murdoch press. Every nugget is now gold. Pure, unalloyed soothsaying, to be absorbed as the gospel truth, magnified and echoed instead by that same conservative bootstrap machine that once used to flay him alive publicly on a daily basis. Incongruous, to say the least. Need I add that he was the first port of call for Murdoch's Sky TV when 'analysis' was needed of the machinations of the ALP's people post Julia Gillard's ascension to the role of Prime Minister. Suffice to say that once his purpose has been served, and he has no further relevant 'insight' to give, he will be cast aside brutally once again by them, like a used tissue. Just like his former wife has been.
Exhibit #2: Greg Rudd
As I mentioned before with respect to Mark Latham when he was leading the federal ALP, no one serves the purpose of the conservative media machine better when it comes to the capability of inflicting damaging blows to the credibility of a popular ALP figure than the close family member.
The pretext is, of course, that surely a family member would not speak out of school about their own flesh and blood, or relative by marriage? Families are harmonious entities where everyone is on the same team, aren't they? Except in exceptional circumstances, surely? Hence, if someone from your own family feels the need to criticise you then, ipso facto, it must be a valid criticism.
Yeah right. And the Easter Bunny is real too.
No converse criticism is ever mounted, no argument made, that I have come across anyway in the mainstream media, that maybe, just maybe, this person just might have an axe to grind with their famous family member. Instead, what they have to say is given the imprimatur of legitimacy by being given a national platform in the national daily paper, from which all other media outlets appear to source their daily lines and talking points these days.
And so it goes, drip, drip, drip, as their message seeps out into the broader community consciousness, from the loss-leading spigot that is The Australian, whose influence these days is not gauged by the number of papers sold, but by the number of other media outlets influenced.
Exhibit #3: Gary Johns
This guy is 'the former Minister in the Hawke/Keating government' who now writes regular opinion pieces critiquing the policies of the current Labor government...from his perch atop the conservative Think Tank, the Institute of Public Affairs. His value to the conservative media appears to lie in the fact that as he was a Minister in the belatedly acknowledged 'reforming' Hawke/Keating government, therefore his standpoint is one of economic rationality, reinforced by the conservative kudos accorded to the Austrian School of Economics fan club that is the IPA, and thus any criticism that he makes, therefore, exposes the economic irrationality of the Labor government.
As he appears to have drunk the conservative Kool Aid, his services probably won't be disposed of anytime soon by the powers that be. Just expect him to fade from view if the Abbott Conservatives are elected to hold power in the federal government. Or maybe he'll continue to be trotted out to write glowingly about the economic duds that the Abbott Party obviously are to those who look at them objectively, have more than two brain cells to rub together and eyes to see which are connected to them.
Exhibit #4: The Culture Warriors
Not ones to leave any flank exposed to attack and advancement by the progressive forces, the relentless prosecution of the Culture Wars is maintained in order to diminish the progressive iconography that social democrats hold dear and which form the basis for their faith. You know, such things as the right NOT to get married, abortion rights for women, the right to be an atheist, or not to have children. The sort of thing Julia Gillard has been vapidly criticised for already this week, by the feminist turncoat Bettina Arndt.
I mean, who better to have a seemingly similar perspective to the progressives than a former editor of Forum, the 70s equivalent of a ladies lad's Mag? Couldn't she be relied upon to have the Sisterhood's best interests at heart? Like hell she does. I think Bettina Arndt is worse than Keith Windschuttle, who went from 70s Marxist to ultra conservative Editor of Right Wing Thinking Lad's Mag, Quadrant, and ABC Board Member-keeper of the conservative flame at the National Broadcaster for John Howard, as at least Keith is upfront and honest about his transformation. Bettina, on the other hand, would still like her audience to believe that she still has her finger on the pulse of Australian women. Hence her opinion is our opinion.
Don't believe a word of it. She is as traditionally conservative as they come these days, and I'd no more believe her pronouncements about contemporary female mores, than I would Sarah Palin's, who, coincidentally, is attempting the same conservative wolf in feminist sheep's clothing schtick in the US.
So, in conclusion, let me just ring the warning bells one last time. Beware the political Judas Sheep who will be used as ALP or progressive proxies, by the powerful forces of darkness that lurk in the shadows, to lure 'the mob' (as Howard loved to derisively refer to the electorate) away from the party who seeks to do the right thing by them, to their doom, like lambs to the slaughter on the altar of global capital and free markets, and against their best interests.
Be alert to their ways and alarmed about why they seek to do it.