Our narcissus to drown in Labor’s tears

HOW did Narcissus meet his end? In the Greek myth he falls in love with his own reflection and refuses to leave the side of the pool. Finally he understands that his “love” is his own reflection. He is thrown into despair and stabs himself to death.

The Roman myth is the same except Narcissus simply wastes away, dying of starvation and thirst because he cannot bring himself to leave his reflection.

How will Australia’s own Narcissus, Kevin Rudd, meet his end? He has already been stabbed. I doubt he will starve to death.

There is another version. When Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest found that the freshwater lake that he knelt beside to observe himself had been transformed into a lake of salty tears. I think that, in the end, Australia’s Narcissus, Rudd, will drown in Labor’s tears.

There are many reasons for Labor to weep. Among them are these signature acts: it failed to manage the leader; it indulged in old, long-settled, class wars; and it indulged in gender politics, long after the conditions for equality had been met.

Simon Crean, Martin Ferguson and John Faulkner failed to manage Rudd. By 2009, these elders should have made it clear to him that his leadership had become unacceptable. Perhaps they did, although Rudd has stated that no one ever approached him with such a message.

Narcissus might not have listened, but he could have been shown his fate well and truly before the Gillard coup. The Gillard coup, by the way, was not a coup by “faceless” factional leaders; it was as near to a spontaneous uprising as is humanly possible. The reason for the revolt by the troops was because the elders failed to manage the leader.

It is foolish to believe that a new round of school funding – a la Gonski – could overturn the general propensity for the middle class, and some ethnic groups, to invest heavily their own time and money in educating their children more than the working class.

As the OECD has reported, “parental or socioeconomic background influences children’s educational, earnings and wage outcomes” in practically all countries. Decades of “educational equality” programs and billions of dollars have not diminished the persistence of the relationship. But believing that bright students cannot succeed in Australia is false.

Fortunately, Australia has one of the highest rates of mobility in earnings across pairs of fathers and sons in the world. Labor must stop using taxpayers’ money to fight an old class war.

No woman can ever again play the gender card. No woman resigned from the Gillard ministry after the leadership ballot. Six men did. Penny Wong, Tanya Plibersek, Jenny Macklin and others made their decision on the same grounds as other members. They acted as politicians; they calculated the gains and losses, both personal and collective, the same as every other member.

Any woman who plays the gender card, as did Julia Gillard mercilessly and foolishly, should be consigned for the term of her natural life to a theatre watching re-runs of Germaine Greer lectures.

I did not think that the Labor caucus would remove Gillard. Those who had become resigned to their fates were sticking, and those who were in safe seats were sticking, which narrowed the list of potential recruits to Rudd.

But, in the end, it was Gillard’s misogyny follies that tipped the balance. Coming on top of Labor’s myriad policy failings, it drove the voters wild and the caucus could not bear it, or her, any more.

I wrote on March 12: “Following Labor’s substantial loss in Western Australia, it is possible that the federal Labor caucus imposes its will and recalls Kevin Rudd. But caucus must understand, and the public must be warned, while Rudd may lead Labor in the forthcoming campaign, he will never again govern.”

Indeed, the Prime Minister is not governing; he is campaigning. Naming a ministry is a mere shadow play. Indonesians call it shadow puppetry or wayang kulit. Rudd was indulging in a bit of wayang kulit in suggesting Tony Abbott’s boats policy would lead to confrontation with Indonesia.

In the immediate aftermath of the Rudd coup, Newspoll and Galaxy had the Coalition 51 per cent to the ALP 49 per cent and ReachTEL had the Coalition 52 per cent to ALP 48 per cent.

On the question “Do you believe that Labor can win the upcoming election?”, 30 per cent answered yes and 57 per cent answered no.

The polls demonstrate the celebrity of Rudd. As with constitutional referendums, however, support starts high and slides as the counter-arguments begin to filter through.

As the official campaign is almost upon us, Australians have to decide the basis on which they judge the next election: five weeks of celebrity or five years of government. Think about it.