"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
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
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
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.
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.