Benedict Rogers is a human rights activist, a former
Parliamentary Candidate, and is Deputy Chairman of the Conservative
Party Human Rights Commission.
I am not Australian. I have Australian friends, I have visited Australia, and occasionally I have thought how nice it might be to emigrate to Australia. I have admired Australia, especially during the crisis in East Timor, when I was there and John Howard's government stepped up to the plate in a commendable way.
But I have to say to my Australian friends: "Mates, if I were an Aussie, I wouldn't vote for that spineless undignified Rudd bloke." I'd say to them: "Mates, I don't follow your politics that closely; all I really know about Australia is Fosters, Qantas, Sydney Opera House, Kangaroos, surfing, the Great Barrier Reef, the Outback, Dame Joan Sutherland, Neighbours, Home and Away, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, cricket, the Ashes, sunshine, surfing, sharks and the great John Howard.
In fact, I have to admit, the first time I went to Australia, when I was living in Hong Kong and travelling to East Timor, I booked my ticket to Darwin and thought: "Well, if I have to go to Darwin to get to Dili, I may as well call in on Sydney on the way". Shows how much this Pom knows about Aussie geography.
But, despite being woefully ignorant about the politics, geography and culture of Australia, I know a thing or two about politics, human nature and values, and I tell you this: I do not like that Rudd fella.
First, I did not like his resignation speech as Prime Minister three years ago. He got the boot, and he should have gone with dignity. Instead, he went with a nauseating pavlova of a self-justifying, self-promoting, self-absorbed sermon. It was appalling. I can picture you all, around the barbie, watching this jerk pontificating and telling you all how proud he was of himself – and yet he'd just been kicked out by his own party. If he'd had any sense of decency whatsoever, he'd have gone with dignity and made a quiet contribution to the country in some other way. I could not imagine William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith or Michael Howard, let alone Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair, behaving as Rudd did.
Second, his loss of temper here. Of course all of us, as human beings, are capable of losing it, and one should have sympathy with politicians who are human and who behave as humans. But this is ridiculous. It's a total loss of self-control over something he should have been able to control – and if he couldn't, he should not have let it be filmed. He's an idiot. If he can't control himself in front of a camera, how can he govern the country?
Third, the fact that he came back to challenge Julia Gillard: for goodness sake. If the Labour Party chops and changes its leader every few years, how can you possibly elect it to government? And if Rudd can't retire gracefully and become an elder statesman, and instead comes back from the dead to knife his assassin in the back, surely he's rtoo sordid to be Prime Minister again?
If Rudd had done what Duncan Smith or Hague did, he could have gained some self-respect and some national respect. Both have reinvented themselves and are now deeply, and rightly, respected – across the political spectrum. They have risen above the petty partisan politics of their past, and immersed themselves in the statesmanlike substance of the national interest, and are highly regarded across the parties as a result. Rudd, by contast, has proven himself a self-absorbed partisan narrow-minded political pygmy.
Lastly, it seems Rudd cheated in the leadership debate. Certainly, Tony Abbott came across as a more credible leader, able to speak without notes and with principles.
So I'd say to my friends down under: I think your great island continent could quite successfully sail Rudd-erless for a while. But no monastery can be without an Abbott, and that's what you need right now. Eject the sanctimonious, vacuous, self-absorbed Rudd, who is so banale he almost makes me feel warm towards Nadine Dorries, and vote Tony Abbott – as he says, if you want a new start, you need a new government. Kevin Rudd goes on about a 'Fair Go'. I'd say he's had his go, now it is time to tell him where to go. Fair Go? Just Go, Kevin.