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I love Tony Abbott

As I watched Abbott, my nemesis, get torn down by his own side I was literally clapping. I slept better than I had in a long time on Monday night knowing that I would wake up living in a country without Abbott as Prime Minister. Knowing that I would never have to hear the words ‘Prime Minister Tony Abbott’ ever again still makes me grin. But I must admit, as much as I hated Abbott, I also loved him too. I’m not claiming to some masochist love-hate fixation with the man who I literally hated in 200 blog posts over the last four years. The hate bit is obvious. But the love bit is more complex. I love Tony Abbott because he did what progressive have never been able to do for ourselves: he united us. I’m now hoping we can bottle that unity.

We know what we’re against: we’re against everything Tony Abbott is for. Let’s hold onto that. Let’s bottle that and never let someone like Tony Abbott run this country ever again. If we can do that, Tony Abbott’s legacy will be a gift to progressive Australians. Because a united progressive movement in Australia will never elect a conservative government ever again. We will never lose another election. What’s not to love about that?

The key to seeing the importance of the hatred of Tony Abbott in every pocket and corner of Australia is understanding that people like me and probably you, think far more deeply and regularly about politics than 99% of voters. When Abbott was elected Prime Minister, we knew him far better than the rest of the country. I remember the sense of dread at what was in store for us when I saw Abbott’s first cabinet assembled together for a photograph. Every one of the team was a wrecker. It wasn’t just Abbott of course. Turnbull was there too. Each and every Liberal and National MP elected to govern our country is equally responsible, and to blame, for every single thing the Abbott government did, or tried and failed to do. The rest of the country, who hadn’t been paying attention like we had, thankfully didn’t take long to catch up and to recognise who the Abbott government really was.

Abbott’s first budget, to politically informed progressives, was a predictable nightmare. To those who share progressive values, but who perhaps don’t think enough about politics to even realise they have progressive values, only had to look at the policies presented in their stark reality to understand that Abbott’s government didn’t fit with their sense of what was ‘right’. It didn’t fit with Australian values. Their policies just weren’t fair. To put it simply, Abbott’s government has done progressives the favour of widening our movement to voters who never realised they were progressives until they hated Abbott.

I’ve seen many commentators talking about all the mistakes Abbott made which led him to losing his job after becoming a national joke and the most hated Prime Minister in Australia’s history. A two year blip. Sure, it was humiliating and frustrating when Abbott gave Prince Philip a knighthood, when he promised to shirt-front Putin, when he ate an onion and pretty much made everyone cringe on a daily basis with his obvious stupidity and awkward sloganeering. But those things on their own didn’t make him hated. If he was a positive, inspirational leader who hadn’t wrecked the economy, who hadn’t lied about his plans and then went about stripping funding from education, health and welfare, who wasn’t an obvious misogynist, who hadn’t waged culture wars on the Human Rights Commission, on wind farms, on the ABC and SBS, who hadn’t shut down the car manufacturing industry and spent most of his energy trying to scare voters into believing there were ISIS bogey-men under the bed through an ever growing collection of flags, all the awkward, sometimes creepy stuff would be an aside. It might even be weirdly endearing, if Abbott was a good PM. What Abbott did, which progressives need to acknowledge as a good thing, is to reveal what politicians with conservative values will do to the country given half the chance. Every single policy that Abbott produced in his first budget was a policy that he, and everyone else in his government, including Turnbull, have spent their entire political careers waiting to introduce and would introduce again given the opportunity.

Many commentators also say Abbott’s problems were bad communication skills, a lack of a narrative, an over-reliance on slogans. But they are wrong about this. It’s far simpler than that. Abbott’s policies were rejected because Australians in the majority did not like them. Abbott might have done a great job of covering up his conservative, neoliberal values whilst in opposition and the lazy, inept mainstream media was his accomplice in this game. But the blunt, uncharismatic, unintelligent, unsubtle Abbott couldn’t keep the game up for even a day once in power and that’s why everything unravelled for him so quickly. He showed who he and his colleagues really were, and then there was nowhere to hide.

So by loving Abbott for this outcome, what can progressives learn? We can learn that Australia doesn’t want a conservative government, even if it comes dressed up in a shiny, expensive Malcolm Turnbull suit. We can learn that progressives can unite and make things happen. Whether they vote Labor, Green or even accidentally voted for Abbott, if they hated Abbott, they have progressive values and so they need to be reminded they will hate Turnbull too. We Marched in March, we ranted on Twitter, we shared on Facebook, we wrote and liked Open Letters, we grew the Independent Media, and we collectively hated Abbott. So let’s bottle this hatred and make it something positive. Let’s make sure Australia never elects a conservative neoliberal wrecker of a government ever again.


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  1. danny jackson

    as always a great article thanks Vic

  2. Kate M

    Indeed. The Abbott Government was the opposite of the Frog-In-the-Kettle. He took us to boiling point almost straight away, and kept up the heat – showing us what truly bad government was. A far more dangerous situation is one where it creeps up on you bit by bit……..Lucky he wasn’t sophisticated enough for that

  3. corvus boreus

    No more pre-bottled hate for me just yet thanks, got enough of a hate-over already.

  4. Loz

    I was never as political until Abbott came on the scene. Now I cannot relax until the LNP is kicked into outer space. They are all culpable in the destruction of good policies put into place by the previous Labour government. Malcolm Turnbull followed the party line religiously and that for me is his downfall. He is just another LNP PM in a better suit.

  5. kerri

    Agree with most of what you say here Victoria but we need one more thing!
    A viable alteranative!

  6. Neil of Sydney

    Abbott’s first budget, to politically informed progressives, was a predictable nightmare.

    Yes let us eat drink and be merry and borrow as much as we want so we can all be happy

  7. jim

    Very well said and agree 110% you made my day THANK you.

  8. keerti

    The most difficult things for australian voters are to hear stupid negativity for what it is and to recognise good government when they see it. They don’t learn from bad experiences. They don’t understand real priorities which is why they are willing to vote for a party that will waste billions on keeping a handful of refugees out of the country. If they did Howard would have never been PM and abts liberal party wouldn’t have stood a snowball’s…I was incredulous when they voted in a party that had caused so much hardship to so many with work choices. I will not be at all surpised if they fall in love with mr smarmy turncoat and vote them back in again.

  9. Matters Not

    Latest ReachTEL poll has a 50-50 result. Better than I expected for the progressive side of politics.

    The primary votes are Coalition 43% (up three), Labor 36% (down two) and Greens 12% (down one).

  10. RosemaryJ36

    The main thing that concerns me about this article is the word hate. I dislike Abbott’s politics, I dislike him as a person and, unlike Victoria, I could not go so far as to say I love him for showing us just how awful an IPA-backed government can be.
    However I would feel diminished in myself if I went so far as to hate Abbott although I am profoundly grateful that he is no longer Prime Minister and, hopefully, no longer directly influencing the government.
    I am more than wary of Malcolm Turnbull as, in order to keep his place as PM, he must now follow policies which he has previously publicly and vehemently opposed. That makes him a total hypocrite – which is possibly worse than being a total idiot like his predecessor.
    Of course our major problem is that Abbott did not win the 2012 election., The ALP well and truly lost it – and the fact that there were mutterings about Shorten having rigged the process of getting electing as the new leader (and having done little since to persuade us that he has got what it takes to lead us into the future) is hardly a cause for feeling at all positive about the outcome of the next election.
    I still live in hope that the Greens have matured and while they are unlikely to be able to command a majority whenever the next election is held, they should be a sufficient force that any government formed will have to include them.
    We need a government devoted to social justice, which recognises our obligations under international treaties and tries to minimise the damage it has inflicted on the refugees suffering unjustifiably in Manus and Nauru detention centres.
    Australia’s reputation has, rightly, suffered enormously under Abbott’s ignorant government and it reflects on all of us that we allowed this to happen.
    Perhaps civic responsibility should become a compulsory subject in our secondary schools!
    The law requires us to vote but an uneducated public will continue to vote as father always used to vote unless steps are taken to make sure that the consequences of doing so can be disastrous.
    And, to Neil of Sydney – I had a free education in the UK right through school and university. That was investment in me as I have been giving back to society ever since.

  11. mars08

    “As I watched Abbott, my nemesis, get torn down by his own side I was literally clapping…”

    His own side…!!!

    As disgusting, nasty and oafish as he was… as ignorant as he is… about 2 in 5 voters still supported him. He may have united the centre left …. but his relentless, toxic culture war also further polarised the nation.

    Rehabilitating the electorate is going to be hard work!

  12. Richard Schmidt

    I am a bit aghast at what I observe as the growth and power acquisition of far right “conservative” politicians and parties around the globe–happily you in Australia may have rid yourselves of one, but they are proliferating like fleas–Here in the US, Britain, India. And the phenomenon is always the same picture. They get elected by constituents who ether are not paying attention, or who actually agree with these far-right policies. In Wisconsin, the folks there actually elected Scott Walker, now a presidential candidate, and he approved a $250 million funding package for a new sports stadium, while meanwhile subtracting the same amount from the education budget. Our parade of clowns masquerading as presidential material has made of us a global joke, deservedly. In Britain, the clowns on the right led to a clown on the left with the election of Corbyn. In India, Modi mocks the Nehru concept of a secular Indian democracy. I wish I could say that, as foolish as their ideas, they are bound to fail, but I fear that stupidity prevails more often than we care to believe. Maybe democracies need a kick in the ass once in a while. Hopefully, you got yours. We are still awaiting ours.

  13. corvus boreus

    By the latest Morgan poll, more Labor voters prefer the new PM (50%) than do their own leader (44%).
    Nationally, it seems Mal sits at 70% approval, with only 24% giving Bill the thumbs up.

    Looks like Labor has some serious work to do in manufacturing and bottling enough Turnbull-hate to win government.
    Perhaps they might try earning a little love for themselves instead.

  14. lunalava

    He would never have been elected if the Labor party had done a better job of choosing and supporting a decent leader.

    Now with the Liberals about to ride their short term bounce in popularity to a second term (December election), let’s hope Labor does a better job of choosing a leader post Short on (talent).

  15. Terry2

    I won’t be happy until he leaves politics : I remember Nightmare on Elm Street !

  16. roaminruin

    Having Abbott gone is a bit like having a bad tooth removed. It’s a big relief but you can feel the gap it’s left. I filled a lot of my spare time across blogs and social media venting my loathing of the man, and it was a masochistic pleasure. There are plenty of other LNPers to dislike, some intensely, but not to the level as with Abbott. In fact, I was glad to see a bit of a bounce in the polls for the Libs once Turnbull took over because it rubs Abbott’s nose in it. For that reason I would not even be unhappy to see them retain Canning – even with that strange creationist mystery military type they nominated as their candidate, such is my distaste for Abbott.
    I don’t think we’ll need to wait long though for another nasty Lib bogeyman, and that’s not Turnbull. It’s Scott Morrison.

  17. bilko

    Abbott only led the charge the rest of them were in full agreement, all that has happened is the rider has changed the coalition horse is still galloping in the same direction, stay alert Victoria, it will still be a bumpy ride until they fall at the election hurdle.

  18. donwreford

    Abbott having been unable to become a priest as a result of the existential crises all will suffer to walk the walk of a committed spiritual individual and rise to the gauntlet of the paradoxical riddle of ones existence? receiving a phone call from London of one of his cronies informing him the money he could make and the good times await him immediately turned to the good life and become in the world satisfying his ego of worldly desires and becoming a pop star adored for some time by many and eventually loosing favor with the public seeing his arrogant style not that the public do not have some of the same disease but not to the extent of Abbott, but his linear interpretation of policy and authoritarian style and gracelessness that become his downfall, not a individual to be hated he just became a simple personality unable to understand anything other than making money and having a myopic view as to decision making.
    The constant reiteration of protecting the public as if the public felt so much fear they need a body guard that protected us from the evil world out their coupled with a attitude of condescension, I am reminded of a artist who living in my home town in economic impoverishment enticed a rich women she needed protection from all those who desired her money? as simple as it sounds it worked, by the way his father was a police man, most of what the world is about behind the image of presentation is a fairly simplistic primeval affair.

  19. Paddy Forsayeth

    To Richard Schmidt:
    The overwhelming view, at least on this site, is that Abbott is the epitome of right wing conservative politics. That he is gone might mean a shift, even a slight one must be to the left. Richard, from your comment about Corbyn being a clown I assume means you think the lefties are clowns. There are many on the right who see the political centre, socialists, communists and others as some kind of pinkish/red haze of evil which must be rejected at all costs. This is why we get mogrels like abbott and that dickhead Cameron and the US may get that social thief Trump. The thing that has irked me for decades is that the term Socialist is spat out like some sort of a self evident epithet. This is why we get conservative governments because our generation has been indoctrinated with a deep psychological fear and revulsion against anything remotely leftist. We have many second generation voters whose parents fled Communist countries to this country (and good luck to them). In their political upbringing anything not on the political right is evil and must be resisted. Hence any discussion on social policies slides into a ‘Good’ versus ‘Socialist/Communist’ paradigm. I don’t think that voters in Oz. USA and UK have any idea about the difference between Communism and Socialism. As a socialist I firmly believe in free enterprise but with the social/political caveat that controlled wealth distribution prevents poverty and severely prohibits excessive accumulation of wealth. None too high and none too low. The rich necessarily hate this idea. We need people like Corbyn to articulate sensible social policies.

  20. kerri

    Neil of Sydney tou can eat what you want but drinking the kool-aid will get you nowhere!
    Richard Schmidt I suspect your kick in the ass comes with a bad hairdo? I hope for your sake sanity prevails and the racist gets knocked out!
    Corvus Boreus spot on!
    Paddy Forsayeth well said! Along with Socialism pftt pftt pfft Green is also tossed around as though caring for the planet is some sort of conspiracy to destroy lifestyle! Watermelons! Green on the outside pink on the inside. This idiotic and puerile name calling perfectly suits the far right as it rides roughshod over any need for explaination. No one stops you to ask a question when you are chanting nasty, libellous slogans!
    We need to educate the old for the young are leaning towards the planet they know cannot sustain the raping and plundering of the wealthy business elitists. Have you noticed that many futuristic movies depict a dual society of excessively wealthy living in glossy sci fi luxury and a downtrodden poor scraping a meagre living together and being punished by the rich whilst intelectually undermining them.? The first part is what the neo cons want. The second part is inevitable as the neo cons cannot challenge on intelligent argument. The middle class are the ones who sway and need the political awakening having a knob like Abbott in the top job brings.

  21. Paolo Soprani

    Terry2, I agree. He will fester on the back bench. I won’t be comfortable until he has left politics for good and, for that matter, taken all those godbotherers Morrison, Abetz, Andrews, Dutton etc with him. Gone forever. At the moment it’s all too creepy while they sit there in the shadows.

  22. Steve Laing

    The problem is that Abbott is simply the manifestation of the modern Liberal party. He is one of them. They think like he does. Malcolm has realised this and realises that he will need to carry on that same trajectory, which is a pity because he had the potential to be a positive force but now his hands are tied. Unfortunately he is popular, and that is incredibly important in the media driven presidential-like politics of the modern world. Turnbulls sales pitch to the IPA/Abbott unwritten “vision”… Scary stuff. I fear the people may be duped again.

  23. durmese

    At one time many years ago I voted Tory in successive Federal elections; spurred on by the ‘reds under beds, Yellow peril invasions from Asia etc yes I was well and truly excrement scared by the Liarbral party rants aided by their Government Gazettes, the “newspapers” of Murdoch et al !!

    I guess I had an excuse,being young and afraid and childishly believing that these fork tongued politicians would not spread untruths, (that only occurred in nasty tricky and evil Commo or “Red” nations. So with the replacement of the cowardly bully Abbott as PM by a leader whom I believe to be a paragon of virtue in comparison, I will not be too concerned if the Liarbrals win but I would very much like the ALP to regain office and the treasury benches at the next federal election….


  24. totaram

    “We will never lose another election. What’s not to love about that?”

    I’m sorry, Victoria, but if you know human nature, that is not something to love. We would have turned into some kind of dictatorship without realising it. Unless a party is thrown out of government once in a while, the bastards can’t remain honest. Hubris and hanky-panky are always around the corner.

    durmese: Malcolm Turnbull is just the new “salesperson” for the same old policies. After what he did to the NBN, I don’t think he is a paragon of virtue either. You will see that in order to survive at the head of his party he has to toe the IPA line. Steve Laing (above) is right.

  25. eli nes

    you were the nemesis, victoria, not the rabbutt.
    The electorate that gave us the rabbutt wont vote for shorten or the loonies. The best we can hope for is a not a lnp majority in the senate.and that depends on labor claiming AAA, exposing borrowing and destroying robb.

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