|Staring down the Maddog|
Getting a wedgie is not one of happiest school memories for those of us who
didn't take karate classes or felt that 'school bully' was an inappropriate
qualification on a future Curriculum Vitae. But at least the feeling of being
split up the middle felt politically balanced. Sadly, wedge politics doesn't
make the grade.
The Howard government has pursued this strategy very successfully in the
last eight years by spotting the fundamental contradictions in the left-wing
belief set. All marriages have inbuilt tensions, marriages of convenience
doubly so. Starting arguments within married couples is always good fun at
dinner parties, and Janette must have given enough of them for (the normally
socially inept) Little Johnny to have mastered the strategy. Doubtless Johnny's
education at Canterbury Boy's High educated him on the effectiveness of the
wedge, and he has been playing wedge politics ever since.
Much to the chagrin of The Left, who, under Johnny's Regime are no longer
able to suppress discussion on those 'difficult' areas which they were able
to silence for so long. Nothing like little dirty laundry in public to cause
some political embarrasment.
But the new hero of The Left, the intellectual politician, the man with the
ideas, Mark (Madog) Latham thought he would give the PM a wedgie by bringing up
the issue of superannuation reductions for the politicians. Unfortunately the
attempt backfired. After letting Peter (PM-wannabe) Costello make a fool of
himself on radio by dismissing the idea, Johnny simply accepted it.
There is nothing quite as alarming as drawing a line in the sand for an
adversary and having them march right up to it "oh, you mean this
line?. OK - I'll see you and raise you." - even though the reduction only
applies to new politicians, not the current ones.
Of course the Left claimed victory - they could hardly do anything else.
But now the opposition has to make noises about applying it to the
current politicians too to make themselves sound more sincere than
Johnny. Johnny would love to do this - he can afford to lose more than the
Mark Lathams of the world - he's been an MP for longer.
Unfortunately Johnny can't do this, the prospect of MPs suing the government
for breach of contract over their agreed superannuation payouts would be a
giggle for the rest of us, but it's not a legacy that Johnny is willing to
The cynics may observe that this is yet another example of the government
legislating a transfer of money from the Gen-Xers to the Baby Boomers, but
that's nothing new. The Baby Boomers are well and truly overrepresented in
positions of power and influence, and the government rarely makes any decision
to financially disadvantage them for the benefit of others.
Now Maddog has to face the wrath of any new MPs, and for the the ALP
to win government, that means a lot more new ALP MPs than the Coalitition -
and a lot more disgruntled ones. Oops.
A party room full of people saying 'Mark, you're doing a great
job. Just don't .. like .. make any more suggestions, OK?'? Its just what
Johnny needs to push Latham back to a small target strategy. It worked against
Kim (Fatboy) Beazley, and Johnny's conservative nature means he'd prefer
history to repeat.
Why change a winning formula?