Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Give me a principled Marxist over an unprincipled Tory squib any day

There has been a great deal of comment about the removal of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his replacement with that country's sixth prime minister in eight years, Malcolm Turnbull. Tony Abbott deserved to be defenestrated - not because he was (as some pundits have claimed) too ideological, but rather because he compromised his ideology where he shouldn't have and didn't compromise it where he should have done so. He stuck to his guns on gay marriage in spite of the mood for change but broke a lot of election promises in areas such as health and education reforms, lowering taxes and repeal of the Orwellian Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. He did stand by his position on repealing the repressive climate tax (which Labor PM Julia Gillard had introduced after breaking her election promise not to), but that was a rare show of backbone in an otherwise invertebrate performance.

Malcolm Turnbull's admiration for John Key says everything any New Zealander needs to know about the new Australian PM. John Key may have his strengths (um...his common touch and a nice smile, perhaps?) but standing on principle is not one of them. Key promised in the 2008 election not to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme and that went out the window with many of his other promises as soon as he was ensconced in the office at the top of The Beehive.

The interesting thing about principles in politics is that it is only those on the left are allowed to have them. Liberal Party politicians in Australia, Conservatives in Britain and National Party members in New Zealand are all condemned as too ideological if they stick to their ostensible principles like small government, free markets and freedom of choice in education and health. But you can have the most extreme left-wing views and the mainstream media and chattering classes will give you a free pass. You can be an out-and-out Marxist, willing to nationalise all manner of private businesses without compensation, want to withdraw from any Western defence alliances, and be a supporter of terrorist groups like Hezbollah, and your reward is to be elected Leader of the Opposition in Britain.

But I actually admire Jeremy Corbyn more than Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull or John Key. Give me a principled Marxist any day over an unprincipled Tory squib like David Cameron. At least you know where you stand with a Marxist.

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