I understand that Brexit caused a bit of a stir in the UK, and that the resulting vote to leave the EU has very much divided the nation.
If we thought that was a shock, Trump’s victory in the US presidential election recently has divided America in an even bigger way.
Is global politics going mad?
Here’s a reprint of an article I wrote recently for Australia and New Zealand magazine which appeared in their December edition. It was called…
Britain has been through significant political upheaval recently, what with Brexit. The story, featuring scaremongering, backstabbing, doublecrossing, abandonments and resignations is one that deserves the tag ‘You just couldn’t write it, could you?’
Have I got news for you.
Australian politicians have been writing stories like this, and better, since I arrived in November 2007. In those nine years Australia has had six Prime Minister, probably. I say probably because I do know there is a slight delay between me actually writing these articles and when they appear in the magazine on the shelves in the UK. During this short period, who knows, I may well have woken up one morning here in sunny Australia to another new Prime Minister. If that sounds strange to you, is not to me, it’s already happened twice since I’ve been living here.
It wasn’t always like that.
When I arrived, Australia was under the leadership of John Howard (Liberal) who had been in charge for over 11 years. Before that, Paul Keating served for five years having taken over from Bob Hawke (both Labor) who had been Prime Minister since 1983.
I don’t know if it was something I said, but political unrest began within a month of my arrival.
John Howard was voted out and replaced by Kevin Rudd (Labor), who looked a bit like The Milky Bar Kid. That wasn’t his nickname though, certainly not by his fellow politicians. They affectionately referred to him as Dr Death.
Then, one sunny Australian morning in June 2010, I woke up to discover that Julia Gillard was our new Prime Minister. In what’s called a ‘leadership spill’ here, she had challenged the Labor leader and he lost the vote. He was out, and she was in; as quick as that.
Three years later, almost to the day, Kevin got his revenge. In another ‘spill’, he defeated Julia and I woke up to a different Prime Minister yet again. This time though, there would be no further revenge from Julia. She vowed to quit politics if she lost to Rudd, so she’s possibly sipping tea and eating biscuits somewhere with Nigel Farage right now.
With Labor’s defeat just two months later we had another new PM, Tony Abbott (Liberal). He lasted almost 2 years before he was ousted in another leadership spill.
He was challenged by Malcolm Turnbull who had been Minister for Communications up until then.
Turnbull went on to win the election for the Liberals in June 2016, but only by the skin of his teeth. The vote was so close it took fully a week before it was verified, otherwise Bill Shorten would have been our seventh Prime Minister since my arrival. That though could end up being Tony Abbott; rumours are rife he is plotting his revenge against Malcolm Turnbull.
No, you couldn’t write it, could you?
I don’t know if leadership spills are uniquely Australian, but Australian politics has a history of internal battles of this nature. Hawke v Hayden, Howard v Peacock and Keating v Hawke to name but a few. It may sound chaotic, but it’s more entertaining than House of Cards.
Footnote: if you are not yet convinced that Australian politics is fun, check this out…