Turnbull v Abbott: Same shit, different shovel

Issue 
Prime Minister Turnbull fails at first attempt to not look smug.

Ok, who didn’t cheer when they heard that Tony Abbott might be dumped as Prime Minister? And then before the reality that nothing had really changed sank in, who didn’t cheer when he actually was dumped?

Yes, you spoil sports out there, I know that we have just switched captains on a leaky boat — appropriate metaphor don’t you think — and the boat hasn’t actually changed. But you have to admit that seeing Abbott’s humiliation was enjoyable.

This was the leader who brought you “Stop the Boats” as an unending mantra whenever he couldn’t think of anything else to say, who attacked unions with joyous fury, denied climate change, cut government services, lied and cheated and sounded like a buffoon every time he opened his mouth — all with his imaginary friend’s blessing.

As “First Dog on the Moon” noted in a cartoon published in Guardian Australia on February 4, during the first attempted coup against Abbott: “Hubris is the word that best describes the short sharp Abbott prime ministership. Although it doesn’t really capture its true awfulness, maybe government-by-testicle.”

Turnbull is an ex-merchant banker and no friend of the working class or unions. He has already backtracked on his commitments to equal marriage and the environment — supposedly to keep the right-wingers in the Coalition onside. Never let principles stand in the way of ambition or slavish devotion to getting a good deal for oneself and one’s mates. So yes, a good lefty can hardly be enthused about this changing of the guard.

But maybe you were one of those who moaned and groaned when you heard Abbott was to be booted? I met a few of those on Day 1 of the Turnbull reign. Almost all were Labor supporters. “Oh no,” they said. “Now Shorten will never get elected. We stood a much greater chance with Abbott in office!”

What? Is this what the once great Labor Party has been reduced to? Snivelling around the edges because it no longer has the policies that really inspire working class people? Relying upon negative campaigns and back biting to make the other side look worse so it can scrape into office through the back door.

Why can’t we have a Labor Party like the one Jeremy Corbyn is trying to build in Britain? You know, a party that’s pro refugee, pro-union, pro women, against the nuclear industry and war, anti-poverty, anti-racism and anti-austerity — in fact a socialist party?

That was a much more exciting coup. Who would have thought that thousands of people would come out to support old-fashioned socialist politics? Indeed there were tens of thousands of young people mobilising for policies of hope not hate and about building a better world.

It is proof that many of us are tired of this never-ending charade of parliamentary politics, where the ruling class always wins and our side always loses.

Well, as a socialist I know what I will be doing in the next period. In Geelong we threw out a challenge for that great, self-proclaimed communicator, Turnbull, to come to our equal marriage rally and explain why he now supports a plebiscite rather than implementing equal marriage rights now.

What I won’t be doing is getting involved in some phoney marginal seats campaign, because I’d rather be out there with the people fighting for refugee rights, quitting coal and saving the environment, defending my union, opposing privatisation and the outsourcing of community and social services, opposing the bombing of Syria and Gaza, fighting racism and defending indigenous rights.

Dammit there are so many campaigns for us to win, I think I have forgotten about that has-been Abbott already. What a loser!

[Sue Bull is a convenor of the Socialist Alliance in Geelong and a candidate in the forthcoming Greater Geelong City Council Kildare Ward by-election.]

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