Michael Burill’s Current Affairs Wrap faces ever changing Auspol beyond Libspill, Corbyn’s election in the UK and Vlad’s fingers on Syria.
We man the boats this week with the Liberal leadership spill which deposed Tone, with Malcolm Turnbull returning a favour long in arrears, bringing a close to the least effective government since 1971. Mal’s reascension to the throne led to an immediate reversal in the polls, promising a “style of leadership that respects the people’s intelligence.” One other reaction wasn’t quite so positive however. In promising that he would engage in “no wrecking, no undermining and no sniping,” Tone was tacitly attacking (or “sniping” as some may describe it) Mal for all those things. Perhaps a clearer example of feelings in the Abbott camp was illustrated by a reported outburst by staffer, Richard Dowdy, who serenaded our new PM with “Malcolm, Malcolm, Malcolm, you’re a c*nt.”
In their response, some of Tone’s closest lieutenants seemed confused about where their loyalties lie. Pete Dutton apparently offered both his resignation and willingness to serve under Mal. Meantime Joe Hockey put forth his willingness to cosy up to Mr Turncoat and accept a demotion in order to remain in cabinet. This was down to his “instinctive loyalty” to both the “Australian people” and “leaders.” (Yeah…doesn’t make much sense to me either.)
When it came to the Opposition’s response, Short William looked almost as upset as his former adversary. It was as though he could see his chances of election burning up in front of his eyes. He punch-drunkenly attempted to highlight that for all Mal’s attempts to differentiate from and elevate himself above Tone, he not only generally operated as an active and supportive member of the Abbott ministry, but in order to keep party conservatives on side, will be forced to carry much the same policy platform to election. Now, to some degree I guess I have to feel sorry for Bill.
With much of the Australian populace’s reaction to a flash of suave competence (and really only that) that suggests they are still in personality politics mode, Bill could be forgiven for thinking the same old strategies would cut it. They won’t though. As the aforementioned flash of suave competence signalled, smiling warmly, even if discussing the same policies, he intends to do so calmly and intellectually. With this in mind, the attack politics Labor has coasted by on just won’t cut it. By that same measure, it seems Bill is probably Shorten time (you’re welcome) when it comes to the ALP leadership.
In what could be a sign of things to come in the ALP’s next leadership elections (but probably not), a grassroots campaign lead to the surprise election of democratic socialist candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, as leader of the UK Labour party. While Corbyn won almost 60 percent of the party vote, Jez’ situation is somewhat analogous with Malcolm Turnbull’s. He’s further left than most of his party’s parliamentarians, and as such will probably have to dilute his politics to hold onto power. Unlike Mal though, Jeremy Corbyn probably isn’t as easily electable. That democratic socialism was the founding base of the Labour party is something all of the already plotting Blairites (with some even refusing to serve in Corbyn’s cabinet) should remind themselves. Yet it is true that any mention of “socialism” can amount to political suicide when it comes to the broader elective (whether here, the UK and or most obviously, the US).
Some may describe this sort of precarious, potentially untenable situation within Corbyn’s UK Labour party as a sign that representative democracy is working, with moderation and idealism forced to awkwardly dance like they’re at some year 10 formal. Personally, it strikes me that for all the complaints about the lack of inspirational politicians that stand for something, anytime one of those appears, the political classes (most of which are careerists interested in re-election or advancement) and society as whole force them to completely compromise, or discard them. Maybe I’m an idealist (alright, I know I’m a fucking idealist) and maybe you think this is the way things have to be, but it’s something to consider next time you feel as though you’re drowning in the grey dishwasher of centrist purgatory.
Back in Australia, one of the few people to walk out of the Abbott Government with credibility (who will most probably be Treasurer by the time this article is published), Scott Morrison, has been implicated in (more) wrongdoing in his time at Immigration. The Federal Courts found that Morrison, in his response to a data breach of asylum seekers’ personal details, set up a process which denied those affected procedural fairness and was designed to fail.
Now, if I was a Labor attack ad I’d ask, “Is this really the man you trust to formulate a fair budget?” And while I’m not sure I do, my questions go deeper than that. Whatever one thinks about Treasury Hunter Scott Morrison, Mal “The Turncoat” Turnbull or the now impotent opposition, this bending of rules and lack of procedural fairness has been a pillar of both Labor and Liberal immigration policies. The new age of intellectual, open debate which Mal has promised will hopefully lead to a collective re-examination of these attitudes. But with his hands seemingly tied until at least the next election (and Labor still probably unwilling to differentiate themselves on such issues), it seems all we can really look forward to is a more articulate, charming explanation of why we should shrug our shoulders at detainees so traumatised they are willing to set themselves on fire…
Lastly this week, Russia’s increased involvement in Syria led to the US calling for talks over potential cooperation and avoidance of “miscalculations”, which seems a rather light description of incidents which could potentially trigger global nuclear war. Other forms of dialogue have been floated between the two estranged governments, with Putin now apparently considering using his sizeable influence to force Bashar al-Assad out of power. While this is ostensibly positive news, revelations have been made from head negotiator at the time, Martti Ahtisaari, that in 2012, Western powers ignored a Russian-brokered peace deal that would have seen Assad relinquish power, due to their belief the regime would soon topple (and, I would imagine, a lack of desire to present Putin with the political victory). The problem is, that hubris (an ever-present theme in Western action in the Middle East) now means all the political cards are in Vlad’s claws. Someone who has shown time and time again that he is willing to take whatever steps he feels are needed to achieve political victory for himself. One again, fanfuckingtastic work, guys.