A letter to the Daily Telegraph

A letter to the Daily Telegraph

Dear Daily Telegraph,

Well, thanks for that. If my voting preference depended on how well the leader of a political party got on with his own children, this would be solid information I could take to the polling booth in September, safe in the knowledge that the Leader of the Opposition is liked and loved by his offspring.

Unfortunately, I like a little more information about potential leaders. I know I’m being fickle but I tend to like to know what they intend doing while in office. It’s called “policy” in case you haven’t heard of it and from your coverage of the Leader of the Opposition I can only assume you haven’t or you don’t find it all that important. Yes, what they intend to do with the country when they get control of it says a lot about who the candidate is and what their plans are.

Unless of course you get a glowing endorsement from a candidate’s family. Who cares about all that boring and stuffy economic policy twaddle? Obviously not you guys at the Tele because you don’t seem to interested in uncovering what the Opposition Leader’s policies are. Your disinterest can only be matched by that of the Member for Warringah who seems to be a complete cypher on the subject.

Then again, he’s hardly been given the chance to tell us what his policy is. He can’t seem to land an interview with anyone and when he does the interviewer focusses on his personal life and not his political one. Like his appearance on 60 Minutes with Liz Hayes: I’m sure he was completely frustrated that he wasn’t given the chance to defend himself from the rumours that he was instrumental, along with Christopher Pyne, Julie Bishop and Mal Brough in the pursuit of Peter Slipper in what the court has since described as a nuisance sexual harassment case. But the subject wasn’t raised by Liz who was only interested in the far more important issue: Does your family like you?
Of course, Mr Abbot was fully aware of Mr Slipper’s multiple malfeasance, considering he had covered them up until Mr Slipper had up and turned traitor but this is by-and-large irrelevant because Mr Abbot’s daughters like his new haircut.

And this is the important thing in this election cycle: Tony Abbott has women in his corner; women who think he’s a bit of a dag and not at all a misogynist. I’m sure that if the Leader of the Opposition’s daughters can overlook statements like:
“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons …”
he’s got to be a good bloke.
So imagine my relief at knowing that a failed Catholic priest-turned political bovver boy has a family that loves him … because, in the end, that’s what’s important … well, important to you.

For the rest of us, those people that are concerned that the Houses of Parliament are about to be handed over to a political opportunist with little or no regard to facts when it comes to political point-scoring, we’ll be looking at more than what shade of blue the Opposition Leader’s tie is. His daughters and you may think that this is important for him to focus on if he wants to be Prime Minister but some of us are after something more substantial …
In an alternative Prime Minister and in journalism.

David Callan
2 April 2013

A letter to Tony, October 2012

Dear Tony,

Really? REALLY?!

Admit it. Either you have a serious impulse control problem or your speechwriter and political strategists are certified idiots!

A smart politician would have gone for Peter Slipper and left it at that. Your God knows there was enough material there to work with. You could have let your righteous indignation off the chain and no-one could have blamed you. We ALL know what a complete dropkick Slipper is (Pun not intended). And we all know how long you guys covered his arse before Labor took him off your hands. Given the single vote that saw the motion dismissed, you might have had a different result. As it turns out, Slipper jumped ship anyway. And good riddance to bad rubbish, I say!

In all honesty, I’m with you on the Slipper issue. His elevation to the Speaker’s Chair has to be one of the most insanely ill-advised pieces of political chicanery in the history of Federation. To take a liability from the Opposition with all his baggage – baggage that that same Opposition is well aware of – is the political equivalent of crossing a minefield on a pogo stick: you look ridiculous and everyone knows it’s going to end badly. I’m sure you must have needed to change your underwear when you heard he was defecting.

Today it should have been a lay-down Misere: state your case and let the humiliation of his texts do the rest. You had this in the bag!

But you couldn’t help yourself, could you?

You just couldn’t resist sinking in the slipper while trying to sink the Slipper. (Awkward pun most definitely intended.)

Alan Jones’ shameful remark outraged the Nation – even you admitted that it was “completely out of line” – and yet you insisted in bringing it onto the floor of Parliament. I getting the sense that you were one of those kids that always had bloody knees, because you couldn’t resist picking at scabs.

Did you really think that the Prime Minister would sit there with her head bowed in contrition?

A bitter, mean-spirited media blowhard publicly and viciously smeared the memory of the Prime Minister’s recently deceased father, made a lip-service apology with no real regret except for his own embarrassment at all and then cried foul at HIS treatment at the hands the very person he had so heinously insulted because she had the good sense to not take his call. I think the PM should be applauded for not speaking to him on the phone because it was a lose-lose situation for her. Jones almost certainly would have recorded the call and had the PM accepted the apology with grace he could’ve slapped himself on the back and shown his listeners what a true gentleman he purports himself to be. Had the PM ripped into him he could have shown his listeners that he was right and PM is indeed “a bitch”. Julia Gillard had the nouse to leave Alan Jones with no oxygen by not engaging thus denying him an easy out. She must have been tempted, just to speak her mind but there would be no way she could win that battle. She wouldn’t have been on home turf.

And then you … brawling, blustering, bullying you gave her the chance. You laid it all out in front of her on the Despatch Box and sat down with that self-satisfied smirk.

To paraphrase the writer David Mamet: Talk about bringing a knife to a gunfight.

I am gob smacked that you didn’t expect her reaction. Maybe you did. Maybe you thought she would simply lose her nerve and crumble. Maybe you were hoping that she would lose control and abuse you and Alan and embarrass herself. If that is true … Wow! For a guy who lives with four women, you really don’t know women. You most certainly underestimated this one.

She was ready for you. You waved your pathetic little penknife of Shame in her face and she took it off you and shoved a sawn-off shotgun loaded with all the slights and bile that you have directed at her right down your throat. Seriously, I winced more than once and kudos to you for not wetting yourself. That Mace could do a lot of damage. Still, you always could have relied on your Deputy to step in.

Funnily enough, I have about as much respect for the PM’s speechwriter as I have for yours. Both of you make speeches that are fecund with tired rhetoric and bland clichés, the public speaking equivalent of beige.

However, I’m a big fan of the PM at Question time. She is a force to be reckoned with on the floor of the House. She’s smart, she’s sharp and she takes no prisoners and you in your smarmy, condescending, rugger-bugger way forgot that.

Here is something you should know about women, Tony:

You go after a woman’s family at your peril.

Today you revealed yourself to be the politician you truly are: a brutish hack that is all about political point scoring. You may have graduated from university, but you never really graduated from university politics. You’re obviously a smart man, but that doesn’t make you a wise man and that truly is your tragic flaw.

But you are right. Someone should feel shame. You. You should hang your head in shame at plumbing a new low.

And we should feel shame too: Shame at the very real prospect that you, in all likelihood, will be our next leader.

You’re not a leader of a nation, Tony Abbot. You’re a leader of a gang.

There’s more to leading than dishing out and taking blows.

There is knowing the best way to win some fights is not to get into them.

My advice is: Arnica for the bruises.

And try not to pick at the scabs.


David Callan

Tuesday 9th October 2012