There are a lot of sore heads today. I suspect a lot of people have been wrong-footed by the election result. I know I called it wrongly. I wrote my own prophesy yesterday before the polls had closed and what I predicted was this:
“A narrow but convincing Labor victory, and for Tony Abbott to narrowly keep his seat.”
Yeah, I couldn’t have got it much more wrong if I’d tried.
Bill Shorten woke up yesterday morning and thought he’d finish the evening as prime minister. Instead he’s roadkill. It is he, not Scott Morrison, who becomes a political footnote.
That has to hurt.
So, some sympathy for him, but also some for Tony Abbott. Whatever you think of him as a politician, the general consensus is that outside of politics he’s not a bad bloke. In his concession speech he said he would rather be a loser than a quitter and I respect that. He certainly had a talent for making the political weather.
Fraser Anning lost his senate seat. And my sympathy runs out before I get to Fraser Anning. The senate is better without him.
You may ask how I voted, and I decline to say. It was instilled in me from an early age that your vote is your own business and I intend to keep it that way. Am I myself pleased or displeased with the result? Again, that’s my business.
But I’d like to say something more. Years ago I went on a tour of the house of commons in the UK. The tour actually takes you into the chamber itself but the guide explains that you are not permitted to sit on the benches. Why not? Because to sit, you have to run in an election and win the right to sit. That’s what winning a seat actually means.
On Friday I was on my train home when another passenger started complaining loudly about politicians. No, he said, he wasn’t going to vote. He refused to be on the electoral roll. All of them were a bunch of useless, corrupt you know whats, only in it for themselves. Eff this, eff that, eff the other. The usual.
Also last week, I found myself in a conversation with someone who didn’t like a particular law. And I thought the usual thing that I never say: you might not like the law but you’re expected to obey it. And if you don’t like the law and want to change it, there’s a way to do that. Join a political party, run for office, win a seat, then vote to repeal the law you don’t like. That’s how the system works. And if you’re not willing to do all of that, then tough luck.
The fact is that most of us will never go into politics. We sit on the sidelines and talk but do nothing more. I don’t exempt myself from that description.
Which brings me back to Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott. Whatever you think about both men, whatever their personal and political flaws, and whatever their absolute naked self interest, neither man sat on the sidelines. Whatever you think about them, and the election result, they both had a go.
Good on them.