Of Gough and politics

It was bizarre to witness the polarised opinions on the value of Gough Whitlam’s all too short time as prime minister of this country, following his death last week.

Those who couldn’t stand the man immediately sank the slipper in. There was no grace period of respect for the recently departed. The predictable likes of Alan Jones, Gerard Henderson, and so on were quick to remind us of their belief that he was the worst PM this country has had. The opposite side of the fence were equally quick to say Whitlam was the best. If half the country thinks Whitlam was great and half thinks he was poison, surely both must be wrong, and the answer must lie somewhere in the middle ground.

At the risk of being simplistic, it seems virtually all haters are on the right wing and supporters are on the left. But it goes deeper than that. The people who think Whitlam was an irresponsible PM and an economic fool are those who believe money is everything and that the most important issue in politics is the almighty economy. But those who understand that there are more important issues than the economy, who believe in social justice, loved Whitlam. And I’m proud to throw my lot in with them.

Politics in this country is increasingly clichéd. The Labor Party is hopeless with money but historically it’s come up with the socially progressive ideas; the Coalition are ruthless in their championing of big business while ignoring the little people. Surely what this country needs is leaders and political parties who can combine a bit of both. It surely can’t be all that difficult.

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