We don't know why this should be the case, but it does seem that left-wing governments and political parties have a perpetual nastiness about them.
Over time this creates rising political risks since demonising your opponents means that all they have to do is show up to the electorate as reasonably normal people and in an instant two things happen. The first is the credibility of the slanderous overkill party goes up in smoke. The second is that the electorate find those so excessively slandered to be much better than expected. He or she turn out to be a pleasant surprise.
Obama and the Democrats in the United States appear to have fallen into this trap.
Unable to run on Obama's record over the past four years they have spent millions upon millions of dollars portraying Mitt Romney as a black beast of terrible proportion. Then Romney shows up as a normal guy who smiles and jokes at the first TV debate and hey presto people are really pleasantly surprised. But they are also miffed that the other mob has lied and misled and slandered for so long and they feel a bit guilty that they got sucked in there for a while.
The Australian Labour Government appears to be making the same mistake. This year they have demonised opposition leader, Tony Abbott. Paul Sheehan, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, shows just how badly Labour has been behaving.
Tony Abbott is a hack. A dog. An aggressive, carping, bitter, mindless, deceptive, dodgy, mendacious, rancid, negative, nasty, muck-raking, untruthful, obstructionist, opportunistic, sexist, political Neanderthal. He is unfit for high office. He cannot control his temper. No trick is too low for him. No stunt is too wild. He is a bully. A thug. A snake oil salesman. A poster child for vile bully-boy values. He has repulsive double standards. He hates women. He stands for nothing. He has unhealthy obsessions. He is nuts.Just like Romney all Abbott needs to do is turn up on a national stage during an election campaign and appear even vaguely human and he will be a resounding success. Meanwhile Labour will have discredited itself as untrustworthy. Electorates can get vindictive over such things. Character assassination of Tony Abbott might make the Labour Government look good in its own eyes for a while, but beware the electorate scorned.
Abbott behaves like Jack the Ripper. He is Gina Rinehart's butler. He is Nancy Reagan without the astrology. He is a douchebag.
I'm quoting here, mostly from Hansard. These are not comments from media figures, or feral demonstrators, or dredged up from 10 or even 30 years ago. These are insults delivered this year, by federal Labor MPs, directed at one person, and orchestrated by Julia Gillard. The level of personal insult has been on an industrial scale.
Ethically, of course, it is shameful. It is immoral. It is evil. Politicians who engage in such behaviour are unworthy of trust. Here is Sheehan's assessment of how low it has become:
But it is this government's concentration on Abbott's character that sets it apart. It is the tactic on which the Gillard government has staked its survival, the politics of the personal, of targeting character, of hammering the same message about the same person, by every minister, until it seeps into the public mind.Julia Gillard's nefarious behaviour reached a pinnacle recently when she accused Tony Abbott of mysogyny, ironically whilst she was defending her Speaker's absolutely crude statements about women made in some e-mails. It seems that the brazen lying effrontery knows no bounds:
The strategy was unveiled at the beginning of the year with some of the worst political bastardry from the nation's leadership seen in a long time. It started with an Australia Day address at the National Press Club delivered by Anthony Albanese on January 25. By convention this is a respite from political hatchet jobs, but Albanese launched into Abbott's character, describing him as ''One Trick Tony'', that one trick being ''more negativity, more nastiness, more obstructionism''.
This was standard from Albanese, but something much nastier came out of the Prime Minister's own office the next day, Australia Day. A group of Aboriginal demonstrators had gathered at the tent eyesore in Canberra. A member of Gillard's staff alerted one of the people at the demonstration and said, falsely, that Abbott was nearby and had just denigrated the Aboriginal tent embassy.
Australia Day 2012 was thus marked by a hostile mob surrounding the Leader of the Opposition, berating him, banging on windows, making threats. In an irony that could become a metaphor, the Prime Minister, herself at the same function, got caught up in the mess.
Then came the climax last week, when Gillard exploded in rage in the Parliament after she had been caught in the implosion of the reputation of the Speaker, Peter Slipper, a failure by the Prime Minister in every respect, tactical, ethical, moral and political.
Abbott was ruthless in exploiting the failure and Gillard was ruthless in defending it: ''It is misogyny, sexism, every day from this Leader of the Opposition. Every day, in every way … I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man … If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia … he needs a mirror … I am offended by the sexism, by the misogyny, of the Leader of the Opposition …''
It was mesmerising. It was great television. Of course Twitter went into a fever (Labor MP Steve Gibbons tweeted: ''That douchebag Tony Abbott.'') Of course the speech went viral on social media. The Prime Minister's outrage would have resonated with every woman who has endured boorish men. But was the accusation of misogyny true? No. Was it ethical? No. Was it a diversion? Yes. Was it part of a pattern? Yes. Was it good politics? We shall see.