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Surprises Are Surprising – Just Ask Theresa May, Tony Abbott Or Campbell Newman!

A few weeks ago I suggested that I couldn’t understand why Theresa (Dis)May called an election. She had everything to lose and very little to gain.

Ok, she was riding high in the polls and, even though she had three years before she had to face the people – in her case, for the first time as PM – she decided that she needed to shore up her support and get a “strong mandate” for Brexit. While some saw it as a cynical attempt to take advantage of Corbyn’s supposed lack of electoral appeal, it was generally thought to be a good political move. And, just like when the US banks were bundling loans together and selling off the risk before the GFC, there was no risk.

However, Theresa (Dis)May got a surprise. Who would have thought it? (Ok, well I did suggest that it was possible a few weeks ago, but nobody takes me seriously!) Of course, that’s the thing about surprises: They’re surprising. Otherwise they wouldn’t be a surprise and they’d be that other thing which we call predictable. If a thing is predictable, it’s not a surprise. But to me the surprising thing is that anybody is actually surprised about the surprise.

To explain what I mean, let’s look at the world of the past few years. Ok, we can’t expect a British PM to have heard about Campbell Newman going from a record majority to losing the next election when the only thing he’d done wrong was to be a complete dickhead, but we could expect that she’d be more familiar with British politics where the following things have happened in the recent past:

  1. In 2015, David Campbell’s Conservative Party is re-elected in a surprise result.
  2. He surprisingly calls for a vote on leaving the EU.
  3. The “leave” campaign surprisingly wins in spite of having Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson arguing for it.
  4. David Cameron quits as PM less than a year after being re-elected. Perhaps not a surprise after the vote, but certainly not expected at the start of the year.

So, in 2017, thinks Theresa, let’s call an election because I’m not expecting a surprise. After all, Donald Trump was elected in the USA, so it’s not like anything is possible. No, I’ll go to the polls, increase my majority and I won’t even need to debate Corbyn because nobody likes him. Yes, half the country did vote against Brexit, and, yes, we don’t have compulsory voting, but I am expecting all those people who voted for David last time and who voted against Brexit to come out and vote for me to give me a massive mandate. And no, I’m not expecting any protest vote because some people think we’re going to win so they feel safe voting for other parties just to let us know that they think we’re a bunch of out-of-touch wankers. I’m sure that my support for the re-introduction of fox hunting will be the sort of policy that shows that we understand that people are doing it tough…

But in a world of such unpredictability, it’s good to know that there are still some things you can rely on! Take Tony Abbott.

While both major parties, business, scientists and others all agree that we need to find some sort of bipartisan policy on energy, Tony decided to pre-empt the Finkel Report by declaring that the Liberal Party needed to be the party of “cheap power”… Rather ironic, when I think about it.

Anyway, Tony was concerned that the Finkel Report could lead to coal-generated power going from its current 65% to around 20%. Given that a large chunk of the report was about ensuring energy security, I haven’t been able to work out why it’s a concern, beyond the current fetish that some Liberals have for handling lumps of coal. If battery storage gets to the point when renewables could deliver 100% of our energy needs, why would need to send men into the mines to dig up coal? (Actually, even if we still needed coal, it’s far more likely that all mining will be automated, depriving our workers of not only jobs, but fringe benefits like black lung disease and industrial accidents!)

But no, apparently coal will still be good for humanity and any attempt to replace it isn’t just unrealistic, it’s also somehow wrong. We have a moral obligation to sell our coal. If God hadn’t wanted us to mine it, he wouldn’t have put it in the ground! (By the way, you can have a lot of fun with the same argument when you apply it to sex, drugs, alcohol or just about anything considered sinful by the person proposing the theory. For example, “If God hadn’t wanted me to practise bestiality, why did he make sheep so damned attractive?”)

And, of course, let’s not forget Malcolm Roberts when talking about certainty in an uncertain world. You can be certain that Malcolm’s argument will go like this:

  1. Empirical evidence is the only thing that matters.
  2. Because I know this, I must be clever.
  3. Because I am clever, I must be right.
  4. This is empirical evidence, and if you don’t see that, then you are ignoring the facts.
  5. If you bring up evidence that doesn’t agree with my point of view, it must be from some organisation that is pushing a political agenda and can be safely ignored because it’s not empirical evidence.
  6. If you attempt to argue with me, we shall go back to Point 1 and start all over again.

Yes, it’s good to be sure of some things in a world full of surprises. I mean, lots of things are uncertain but at least we know we can rely on people like Tony and Malcolm Roberts. Just like we know that when Malcolm Turnbull goes into the party room to argue that we need to find a bipartisan policy on energy, that he’ll be rolled and have to find some way to spin it as though it was Labor’s fault. Of course, this gets harder each time he has to blame Labor because, as Tony found out, you can only do that so many times before people start asking when you’re going to do something to actually fix things… Or in Turnbull’s case, when you’re actually going to do something.

Perhaps a new leader could blame Labor another dozen times before they start to look incompetent too.


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  1. helvityni

    If those English upper classes weren’t so uppity, Teresa might have checked what happened in the provinces…and she would have learnt and kept right away from Doing a Turnbull….

  2. Ricardo29

    Re the survey question, I think there should be an opportunity to qualify one’s answer.also I’m not sure the question is actually pertinent. “Most deserving of contempt?” Is much too broad. For example as a former journalist very disappointed at the MSM coverage of so many important issues I might want to choose them but then there are some mainstream journalists who are actually doing their best so can’t put them, but so it is for the other categories, good and bad. Perhaps the question should be “which profession most needs to lift its game to improve the welfare of the people?”

  3. Freethinker

    Thank for posting, I spilled the coffee and the other half is upset with me.

  4. diannaart

    Ok, we can’t expect a British PM to have heard about Campbell Newman going from a record majority to losing the next election when the only thing he’d done wrong was to be a complete dickhead.

    Indeed, the contemporary Tory is so clueless even Tories from the past are starting to look reasonable and as soon as I can think of a reasonable Tory from the past I will let you know.

  5. helvityni

    To cheer myself up in these troubled times, I read Barry Humphries’ Memoir My Life As Me, and amuse myself with Ogden Nash’s poetry, verses, ditties ,whatever…

    Fun is Fun, Isn’t That Enough?

    Child, the temptation please resist
    to deify the humourist.
    Simply because we’re stuck with solons
    whose minds resemble colons,
    do not assume our current jesters
    are therefore Solomons or Nestors.
    Because the editorial column
    is ponderously solemn
    don’t think the wisdom of the ages
    awaits you in the comic pages.
    There is no proof that Plato’s brain
    weighed less than that of Swift or Twain.
    If funny men are sometimes right
    it’s second guessing, not second sight;
    They apply their caustic common sense
    after, and not before, events.
    Since human nature’s a fait accompli
    they puncture it regularly and promptly.
    Some are sophisticates, some earthy,
    and none are totally trustworthy:
    They will sell their birthright every time
    to make a point or turn a rhyme.
    This motto, child, is my bequest:
    There’s many a false word spoken in jest.

  6. helvityni

    PS, I was going to ask what’s solons, but thought that maybe Ogden is referring Solon, who was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic, and moral decline…

  7. Kronomex

    Caption for photo: “Tony, I can see you hiding down there so remove your hand.”

    Dutton is becoming frightening and the truly ugly face of politics –

    I think May(fly) has discovered the meaning of complacency and a innate “born to rule” mentality. The knives will be out and being sharpened.
    Malcolm Roberts take on things amounts to, paraphrasing Adam Savage from Mythbusters, “I reserve the right to substitute my reality for your reality.”

  8. helvityni

    I felt a bit sick looking at the above picture; fishbone stuck in his throat…? Or perhaps just: I can’t take this anymore, being the PM is not much fun after all…

    Dutton’s wish list is getting longer and nastier:

    This a draconian measure will undermine multicultural Australia, says the Green’s senator Nick McKim

    What happened, not so long ago Mal thought Oz was the most harmonious multicultural society, there seems to be more pressure on him from Dutton than from Abbott…does he have two overlords…

  9. Kronomex

    Dutton; the nobody with power and to use part of a well known phrase “Power corrupts…”

    Try again, this time with the correct email…gah!

  10. bobrafto

    Take Tony Abbott.

    No thanks, you can keep him/

  11. Terry2

    Watching Anh Do the other evening in Anh’s Brush with Fame it occurred to me that, had Peter Dutton been Minister for Immigration all those years ago the outcome for Anh Do’s family could have been so very different and Australia could have been deprived of this generous, talented and warm man.

    Anh Do and his family fled to Australia as refugees in 1980. In his 2010 autobiography, The Happiest Refugee, Anh Do tells of how his family survived five days in a leaky fishing boat nine and a half metres long and two metres wide. During the trip his family and the rest of the passengers were attacked and robbed by two different bands of pirates but eventually they were rescued by Australian authorities and given sanctuary : no thought in those days of bribing the boat’s skipper to turn around and go back out to sea : no thought in those days of banishing these people to detention indefinitely on a remote island and left to rot.

    In those days we had compassion and we reached out to the Do family and others and they have repaid our generosity multiple times enriching our society with their industry, their humour and their humanity.

    Peter Dutton , you are not half the person that Anh Do is and you are the last person we should ever place in a position of power over refugees seeking a new life in this country.

    Lest We Forget Manus and Nauru !

  12. diannaart

    Well said, Terry

  13. Freethinker

    I agree 100% with you comment Terry, but at the same time I ask, is only Dutton and Morrison to take the blame or also those in the electorate that voted for them again?

  14. Aortic

    Or Malcolm Turnbull whose forgettable excuse for going to an election almost cost him power. Since then he has been at the behest of the far Neanderthal right of his party to the country’s detriment. Time to divest your self of them Malcolm and forge your own path. Who knows. policies for the country rather than holding onto power may go down well

  15. helvityni

    Terry2,Ahn Do is a lovely person, he uplifts your spirits, people open up to him because he is generous and non-judging, he’s also humble and hopes ( not expects) that people whose portraits he paints will enjoy his efforts…

    It would be interesting to see Ahn paint Dutton; what a juxtaposition those two men would make…!

  16. Florence nee Fedup

    I believe Dutton has convinced himself that he is going to be PM. Can’t understand PM supporting him in overruling decisions of a tribunal. PM keeps saying rule of law along with all his loving, while dumping the separations powers.

  17. wam

    Whew, Rossleigh, at least you left the septic poll winning woman out of the mix.

    Sadly, Theresa did win, so did ruth davison and the big winner Arlene Forster.

    Poor young Nicola Sturgeon got a pasting(her opposition to BREXIT the blame??) and Scotland surges back to conservatism.

    Woman: ‘not another one…’ Brenda from bristol

    3 years old girl ‘strong and stable’

    Women, women everywhere nor any man to drink.

    Yes we are right to put faith in past polls but the current ones are struggling??

    Apart from feeding their base, why give Dutton such extra powers?

    What will be the effect on Labor if they oppose or support?

    Check the smiles on the diludbransimsmikims

  18. Peter F

    Ross, thank you. On the subject of MR: Those who KNOW they know….. generally don’t.

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