Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Is Simon the Likeable?

By Daryl Snow - posted Thursday, 10 October 2002

"Change excited him. In what others saw as comfortable and familiar, he saw decay and lost opportunity. ....He liked movement, progress, crashing through, overturning, giving the slip to history and his enemies in a single bound."

You don’t need to be an intellectual to quote another person's words yet, looking ahead a bit, there may be a valuable lesson in absorbing them. The passage above appeared in a recent biography of a dear departed political leader.

The words are such that they could have been written about a capitalist go-getter like Chris Corrigan, an inspiring trade unionist, a corporate ladder climber, or a dyed-in-the-wool communist. Love them or hate them, leaders of high calibre have the ability to grip the imagination; to make people feel that they've been swept up and carried in a direction of great promise.


Some of the people might feel a little uncomfortable along the way - even scared - but it's the sort of fear that can also inspire. Others will, and should, provide strong opposition and line up against a leader's direction. In the end, there is only one standard of proof for those that claim to be a leader: followers.

Depending on who you talk to, this animated portrait of leadership could have just as easily captured the 'firebrand' former Trotskyist and NSW Labor Council secretary cum Police Minister, Michael Costa, as readily as it might apply to a crime crusader, quasi-legislator and shock jock, in former Liberal candidate and social agitator, Alan Jones.

And it leads me to ask? What happened to the easeful knowledge that the 'ants in the pants' radical agitators sat gingerly on the left side of the table while the stodgy, immovable conservatives took up comfortable lodgings on the right side?

That's the problem with politics these days. The more you look the more it's getting difficult to find a lazy conservative. Or a sluggish fat, cigar-smoking capitalist. Or an idle boss content just to be powerful and rich.

Nor can you find a slow-moving, complacent trade union official whose daily thoughts were captured by ambition. But it hasn't always been the case - has it Simon?

So Simon the aspiring PM says that we need to "modernise" the ALP if it is to be electable - and you'd be hard pressed to argue against that. There is no doubt if ol' Ben Chifley appeared today, his electoral appeal would be hampered by his role as a trade union official. Howard and Abbott would continually lampoon his past; call him a dinosaur and that'd be that. It'd be back to the locomotive sheds for Ben.


But then again, the photo of Ben with the first ever Holden (and every other modern car that followed it off the production line) might never have been seen nor would the nation's bankers ever have experienced that rare bout of fear.

In a newer political environment Simon has lead us back to the drawing board for the ALP to consider - not how to leap the enemy -but to measure the electoral implications of their teasing. Apparently a period of cowering is needed prior to contemplating crashing through. So while the exhausting process of questionable internal reform is carried out 19 million voters are waiting for the great leap forward.

Putting that aside, if we accept that everyone from every corner of politics is now wide-eyed, modern and on the move the contest is no longer one of sorting the radicals from the conservatives. Many could be forgiven for believing that everyone in a position of influence today has given up their traditional positions in favour of smoking crack, such is the penchant for change - and I'm sure many do.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

This article was first published in Workers Online.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Daryl Snow is President of the Fire Brigade Employees Union.

Related Links
Fire Brigade Employees Union
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy