Monday, July 19, 2010


It was like this .... At his cabinets, it was absolutely forbidden to discuss in front of [him] his chronic failure to present a personality or fashion a vision with appeal to voters, his lack of capacity to run an orderly and collegiate government with a coherent long-term strategy and his crippling inability to remedy any of these flaws, whatever help he was offered. As a result, to use [a] word, they were "f**ked".

Sounds familiar? yet another background comment on Kevin Rudd?

Actually no this is on Gordon Brown from The Guardian. I've previously noted on comments of envy from the UK on how the ALP managed to do what British Labor couldn't.

The Guardian article makes a good read. It tells the tale of a Prime Minister (Blair) constantly under attack by a Treasurer (Chancellor Brown) and states;

There was unquestionably fault on both sides. But the greater part of the viciousness of the ugly Blair-Brown civil war was sourced in the Scotsman's consuming and utterly unreasonable resentment that he was not the leader. When he did finally lever out his rival, many of Brown's colleagues, even the prime minister he had putsched, prayed that he might be transformed for the better once his ambition was finally satisfied. The reverse proved to be the case as he was overwhelmed by a job that was much harder than he anticipated. As his premiership floundered, he became even more paranoid, chaotic and volatile.

For us that could sound like the all consuming story of both Hawke/Keating and Howard/Costello. In the end Hawke and Howard were both right - you have to get the bloke to blast you out not simply hand it over. Blair/Brown seems to fall in the middle - Blair handled the issue the same way with deferrals and future promises but in the end did "honour" the deal even though he (apparently) knew it was the wrong thing by the party - just as I suspect Howard handing over to Costello would have been.

But to our own case. Julia and others who have defended her have said that she moved because she was concerned their standing in the polls suggested Work Choices could make a return. To a degree she can already claim victory as Abbott has at least made a one term promise (core or non-core? s it written or was it the answer to a question?) not to change the Fair Work Act.

But really she could go further. She and her colleagues realised the failure that was Rudd's management style, including the non-use of Cabinet. Was the right choice for Australia the ALP under Rudd versus the coalition or did we the citizens deserve the choice between what the ALP now believes is its best choice versus the coalition?

It is the one feature of a Westminster system over an executive presidency that is perhaps worth preserving. The Parliament - whether by the rearrangement of allegiances that changes parties (e.g. Hughes and the Nationalists, formation of the UAP)or members of a Parliamentary Party can make a decision that some other of their number is a better choice. The other beauty of three year terms, compulsory voting and non-fixed terms is that ultimately the issue gets egularly decided by the governed.

1 comment:

Vic N said...

from the Boston Globe....

It’s one of the great assumptions underlying modern democracy that an informed citizenry is preferable to an uninformed one. “Whenever the people are well-informed,

they can be trusted with their own government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789. This notion, carried down through the years, underlies everything from humble political pamphlets to presidential debates to the very notion of a free press. Mankind may be crooked timber, as Kant put it, uniquely susceptible to ignorance and misinformation, but it’s an article of faith that knowledge is the best remedy. If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight.

In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite.

In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false.

And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.

“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”