Sunday, 2 August 2015

"Why doesn't he say something?"

The Downunder Prime Minister comes in for a fair bit of criticism. He's not popular . 
I was standing staring out at the relentless rain yesterday and talking with someone who very definitely does not vote for him. She is a card carrying member of the opposition. I  thought she was fairly politically aware. Here she was complaining about him "not saying anything" about the apparently racist row over the footballer I mentioned a couple of days ago.
Actually he has said something. He has condemned the behaviour. The problem is that  he condemned it quietly and without jumping up and down and getting visible angry. If you observed him carefully when he was making the statement it was pretty clear that he was seething with anger underneath. Yes, he was angry. 
He is trying to lead by example. Be calm. Condemn quietly and try to change things for the better. 
Of course it is not what some people want. They want to hear loud protests and massive condemnation. Prime Ministers cannot do that sort of thing. If they got emotional then people would question their capacity to do the job.
I would have thought it was pretty clear that the present Prime Minister was not lacking in compassion. He's been a volunteer for many years - surf life saving, fire fighting, working in indigenous communities. Of course, just now, "it's all just a publicity stunt". Perhaps it is - but he has been doing it for years. The test will be whether he goes on doing it when he leaves public life. 

That's the problem of course. If you are Prime Minister you can't just suddenly hit the air waves and sound furiously angry. You have to try and appear calm whatever is going on.You're running the country. 
In a democracy, however shaky that democracy might appear to some,  you can't do exactly as you would like. Yes, you are there to lead. You are there to lead a team, not to dictate to them. 
One of  his predecessors, a woman, was criticised for "displaying emotion" during her now infamous "misogyny" speech. It was a fine piece of well stage managed political drama. She had her emotions well under control. It suited her opponents to criticise her.
There have been hints of emotion in leaders before now. Gordon Brown showed emotion when David Cameron and his wife lost a child. It was one of those rare occasions on which it was right for a leader to show emotion. It was personal, not political because he is also a father.
Of course yesterday I was accused of supporting the insupportable and not being willing to realise how awful the present Downunder Prime Minister is. I expected that - but I think I read him correctly. He was,  underneath that apparently calm exterior, very angry indeed. And that is the way it should be.


jeanfromcornwall said...

So many seem to want politicians to be actors portraying Hollywood emotions - and emotions of any sort can stand in the way of good decisions.
Don't forget that when Gordon Brown offered condolences to the Camerons, he was speaking as a father of three children - their little girl only lived a very brief time.

catdownunder said...

Yes, that's what I was referring to - it was personal, not political. People tend to forget that they can suffer immense losses too.