Andrew Wicks

Bill Shorten: The opposition leader we have, not the one we deserve

Malcolm Turnbull is wobbling after his sixteenth Newspoll loss, but the fact that his biggest threat is not Bill Shorten speaks volumes. High times for the ALP to find a voice as combative as their voter base.

 

 

Yesterday, Bill Shorten revealed two curious factoids about himself. He’s a masochist, as he’s looking to expand the tenure of a standing PM, thereby potentially extending the torture, and his prepared political speeches are, for want of a better term, boring as fuck. In fact, he grips you in the same way an unenthusiastic handjob from your spouse does. It’s so underwhelming it makes you feel guilty for putting you both in this situation, as she looks at you with fogged over eyes, reading blame, asking if you’re done yet. The answer should be obvious. No. But for the sake of the marriage, that was amazing baby, yawn, wow. It’s so late.

Watching his monotonous waffle on ABC’s Insiders yesterday, I realised something. Bill Shorten’s brand of oppositionist thought is more Margaret than David, and we have no use for the soft touch in this post-truth, turbo-charged drag race to the bottom. We need someone who will rip a burn out at the lights and a promise to bang everyone when he wins, instead of the discerning gentleman racer who saves his tyres for the big day. Rip a doey/into Turnbull you c…

 

 

Which is disappointing, as the stars aligned to present him a golden opportunity. He is the romanticised poster boy for everything the ALP hopes to represent; the lead guitarist for the CFMEU, who, in the face of every other politician, performed at the Woodstock of unionised power, the Beaconsfield Mine Disaster. He stood alone, organising a truly memorable set, and defined a movement. You had to be there, man, because he was.

He even has the perfect name for politics. It just screams productivity. The shortening of Bills. It’s like a greyhound named ‘She’s the fastest’ or the felon named fellony. It’s just meant to be.

However, in the months since his finest hour, where he almost toppled Malcolm (calling a voter ‘bro’ on the way), he’s sat on the park bench of political purgatory, waiting for the Godot of the 2019 election. While he’s twiddled his fingers, his opponents have swung for the fences with unpopular mistakes. Shorten’s second reign as opposition leader has seen him climb down from the saddle of his high horse, in favour of the logic of halting the Coalition at the choke point, The Senate.

This sort of cockblocking and subtle negging in our ear makes sense, but it’s not going to make us leave our husband.

Shorten’s essentially become a Political limpet. He’s attached himself to the hull of RMS AusPol while those at the helm steer the ship into unchartered waters. In the wake of Dutton’s ascension, the Manus payout, the mysterious windfall to Fox Sports, or whatever, Choose your own Adventure, he’s been, at least in the public eye, silent. And silence sounds like complicity to the untrained ear. What we need is a voice that resonates, a voice that is as angry as ours, but worded better, so we nod our heads and say, yeah, what he said.

 

Shorten’s essentially become a Political limpet. He’s attached himself to the hull of RMS AusPol while those at the helm steer the ship into unchartered waters.

 

Let’s be honest, since the fall of Turnbull, the Opposition Leader has become a job share, with everyone in the media, social or otherwise is using the same desk space. And the problem with our criticism, save for election day, is that no-one has to listen to us, so they don’t. The power of the people reduced to hope of a retweet from those who explicitly state that a retweet does not mean an endorsement. And from that endorsement, we can tear down the Government with a Fawkesesque powder-keg of shared articles and unison thumbs. Sure, Jan.

The problem with the status quo lies in the regular Newspolls we roll our eyes over. The fact that Malcolm can’t win one to save his political life is equally as important as Bill being way off the preferred PM race.

 

A rose by any other flower would smell just as sweet to the electorate, but still they remain. The obvious question is for how long. As Tony’s minions mass to overthrow the overthrower, it presents us with a problem we’ve seen before. If the Coalition changes faces, and Malcolm becomes Tony (and Bill remains Bill), then next election cycle, we’ll see the change in leadership as a failure of Malcolm, not the Coalition. The Coalition saved the Coalition. Labor had nothing to do with it.

So, history repeats and we all get sad in the pants.

I’d like to offer a radical proposal. The double leadership spill. When Tony moves, the backroom power brokers in the opposite camp must move with him. Yes, two heads being lopped off has never happened before in the Australian experience, but neither has six Prime Ministers in six years, so we have no tradition to piously cling to. A clean slate on both sides. If the Coalition is going to promote Angry Tony to the top branch, it’s best the ALP finds someone equally hawkish. Someone who lives for the bloodied syringe brandishing back alley brawls, not the suspiciously sparse moral high road Bill takes to work.

 

Andrew Wicks

Andrew Wicks is a country boy with a penchant for movies and sport. After a few years working in health, he decided he'd rather work with today's youth and studied arts and education in rural NSW. His main interests are religion, health and lairy shirts.

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