I once observed that it’d benefit a lot of organizations if someone was paid to take the blame when things go wrong.
“We’ve overestimated/underestimated/overspent/missed the deadline/blah/blah/etc.”
“Oh, sorry, that was my fault.”
“Well, we’re in terrible trouble, what are you going to do about it?”
“Nothing. I’m not paid to solve problems – I’m just paid to take the blame, now I’ve done that the rest of you can work out what to do instead of spending all that time justifying yourselves.”
I think of this now, because I can’t help but feel we’re going to be spending a disproportionate amount of time talking about “blame” in the next year or so.
Reflection and working out what went wrong has its merits, but “blame” is something else altogether.
For example, I notice various letters in the papers blaming Bill Shorten for backing Gillard, for changing back to Rudd, for being a “faceless” man and for being too ambitious. (I still maintain that a Minister cannot be “one of Labor’s faceless men” no matter how much he wheels and deals; it’s an oxymoron.)
Whatever your views on Bill Shorten, I suspect that the more he’s blamed, the more he’ll seek to deflect blame, so while it may feel good to find a villain or a scapegoat, things are rarely one person’s fault.
However, I don’t want to concentrate on Labor’s soul-searching. My purpose here is to look to the future and to remind everyone that Abbott was elected to deal with the Labor Government’s perceived shortcomings.
I use the word “perceived” not to suggest that they had none, but because, clearly, no-one voted for Tony Abbott because of a problem that Labor had, but no-one was aware of.
For the past few years, Abbott has been an attack dog. Laying the blame, always, squarely at Labor’s door. Never mind that some of his complaints lacked any rational arguments to back them up.
Never mind that sometimes future events justified what Labor did, rather than what Liberals suggested. (“We’re spending too much stimulus money now, we need to save some for when we go into recession, which is inevitable!” became “We didn’t go into recession, so we didn’t need to spend any money at all.”)
Never mind the times – as with the Carbon Tax – where Labor were doing what the Liberals suggested. (“If you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax?” Tony Abbott in 2009). He’s been relentless. And the temptation is to give him a taste of his own medicine. “Let’s make it hard for him. Let’s be negative about everything he does.”
Instead, let’s claim the high moral ground here. Let’s not – as some on social media have done – rejoice in Mirabella’s potential defeat using words like “bitch” and making nasty comments on her personal life.
Let’s not indulge in rumours about Abbott, which even if true, do not diminish his capacity as leader. After all, people objected to such things when the Jones, the Bolts, the Liberals trolls, the Limited Media of Murdoch, all did it.
Let’s not let such people get us on the ropes, where the head-kickers and the body punchers are at their best. Let’s instead hold Abbott to this one standard: “We don’t care who’s to blame, you were elected to fix it! If you can’t do that, you’d better step aside and let someone who can. After all, we have a contract.”
“Yeah but unemployment’s rising/there’s no surplus/we’re in recession because of Labor!!!”
“We don’t care who’s to blame, you were elected to fix it! What’s your answer?”
I suspect that it may be far more effective to do that than to let them deflect blame.
Not to mention, more satisfying!
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