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Prime Minister Julia Gillard: Superwoman or Ultra Left Stooge

June 24, 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard: Superwoman or Ultra Left Stooge

Is she or isn’t she?

By now some people will be celebrating the fact that Australia has now installed it first female prime minister. For some this is an historic moment for what it represent, others like myself will merely shrug and wonder why all this fuss over pure symbolism. It not what imaginary representative quality that Julia Gillard emits but rather what she is actually going to do now that she has taken the crown from Kevin Rudd. Symbolism may be heart warming to those find substance to be unimportant but symbolism can have both positive and negative connotations. The positive connotations are obvious when any minority is elevated to a position that they rarely represent. However the negative symbolisms can come to haunt a candidate.

The real problem with symbolic leadership is that it only a perception and perception can be shattered in a moment. Kevin Rudd has woken up to this reality today as he now sits quietly on the back bench of Parliament House. When he was swept into power he was one of Australia’s most popular Prime Ministers ever, enjoying an approval rating of 70%. Yet in just a matter of a few months his own party has removed him rather than face an election with him at the helm. Kevin Rudd has now become Kevin Dudd. The back room machinations and internal power struggles of the Federal Labour Party are as much to blame for his demise as his falling approval rating. To date I can think of no other Prime Minister in Australian history who has been removed before he had completed his first term in office. This move is so unprecedented few media editorial seem to understand the significance. Julia Gillard has not been given her Prime Ministership with a mandate of the electorate. She has winner of a numbers game where loyalty once given to Rudd has now been awarded to her and as such could easily be taken away when the head s are counted again.

At this moment the media is in a positive buzz about Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Few if any are asking what she actually represents, why she should be Prime Minister or what her history is. Again we are drawn to the concept of symbolism over substance. Julia is a woman, Julia is smart and Julia has changed history. I am less interested in such token answers than I am in where she is going to take this nation and how she will see its future. Will she represent the mainstream issues of ordinary Australians or is she an extreme ideologue? Is she really just like…one of us? And she on our (figuratively speaking) side?

One thing that some people may be asking before the next election is due is whether she is entirely what she seems. We can have some hint of Julia Gillard’s loyalties and ideologies can be found in her past.

In the 1980’s and 90’s Julia Gillard was a key figure in an organization called the Socialist Forum, which was a lobby group aimed at the Australian Labour Party.

At the time Julia wrote,
“The members of the forum are drawn from varied backgrounds. Around 45 of the forum’s members left the Communist Party of Australia in the division of a year ago and about 80 are members of the ALP. The largest group are not members of any political party.”

Julia maintained her membership to the Socialist Forum up until 2002 after which the Forum was merged with the Fabian Society

When asked specifically if she was ever a Communist she replied, “No of course not and guess what I never was, despite Peter Costello’s obsessive and silly fantasy.”

However here is the official description from an archived document about the Socialist Forum from THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE ARCHIVES.

The Socialist Forum was established in 1984, initially by disaffected members of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). Its membership included Australian Labor Party (ALP) members and political activists and trade unionists seeking an alternative to the factional constraints of the CPA and the ALP. Socialist Forum’s stated aim was to contribute to the development of democratic socialism in Australia by facilitating discussion and analysis of ideas and experiences; providing education both for members and non-members; and developing links between political activists and organisations of political activists. Socialist Forum became an incorporated association in January 1986. It was not a political party, although there was an attempt by a section of the ALP Victorian Branch to prohibit members of the ALP from joining it. The structure of Socialist Forum was based on a policy-setting Annual Conference, an elected Management Committee responsible for administration and financial management, an elected Public Issues Committee responsible for the organisation’s direction between conferences, and Interest Groups for education and information exchange. There were few paid staff members and Socialist Forum relied on subscriptions and donations. Membership was over 200 at its peak, but the level of active membership declined in the mid 1990s. A cost and accommodation sharing arrangement was negotiated between the Evatt Victoria Centre (EVC), the Australian Fabian Society (AFS) and the Socialist Forum in 1997. The EVC was itself an outgrowth of the Sydney based Evatt Foundation and the Victoria Foundation and had ceased to operate in Victoria by the end of the 1990s.

Perhaps Julia was not a communist, in the strict definition, but she had no qualms about joining an organization that formed by, “disaffected members of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA).” (A rose by any other name, some might say.)

Whatever this means to the voters of Australia is anyone’s guess. However it is a symbolic factor that can damage Julia Gillard. Symbolically Julia Gillard can be seen as a nothing more than another Extreme Left Wing politician who snatched power when the opportunity came. Symbolism is a fickle business and it can go any way.

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