Iron grip indeed …. but on what?

Someone at the online news service, InQueensland, most certainly has an iron grip on something but sadly it’s not on reality.

And we suspect the news site’s political commentator, the respected veteran Dennis Atkins, would have been far from happy with the standfirst (below) written for his recent piece on the electoral prospects of new Queensland Opposition Leader David Chrisafulli.

Combine that standfirst with the heading and we suspect Dennis with his knowledge of politics would scoff at the very idea that the Liberals federally, and Scott Morrison in particular, have an iron grip on government.

Atkins’ piece was a perfectly reasoned and presented case based on political history; Queensland in four years’ time is likely to vote Labor again if the conservatives hold power in Canberra, be they led by Morrison or Tim Wilson (insert canned laughter). Nowhere in his piece does he talk of the federal government’s – or Morrison’s – iron grip on power.

Here’s just a small sample of the arguments we think Dennis himself would mount to debunk any notion of an iron grip – in the past, now or in the future – that Smoko supposedly has and could somehow lose that could improve Chrisifulli’s chances of victory in 2026.

  • The latest Newspoll has the LNP ahead 51-49. That’s close.
  • The Morrison government has a two-seat majority. Some say one. With the Member for Banks David Coleman on indefinite personal leave since late last year and calls growing for a byelection in his Sydney seat, Smoko is a resignation or a faulty heartbeat or two away from losing his majority.
  • True. He is riding high in the better PM and overall approval ratings. The state premiers are enjoying a similar lift over their handling of COVID-19 and their ratings are far more deserved than Morrison’s. Chatter is growing on social media that the states dragged him kicking and screaming towards the right approach in battling COVID-19, both in lockdown strategies and federal government financial assistance to keep people in work or temporarily improve the lot of those looking for a job.
  • Morrison leads a government that has thrown around $230 billion at Australians through JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments, pensioner cash handouts and the like. He should be popular at the moment. The Jobs packages are half-way through the process of being phased out. Let’s see where his personal ratings and the government’s overall performance land as 2021 unfolds. Hint: even Smoko has declared he wants to be a full-termer.
  • Once coronavirus fades as a key issue, there are many other obstacles facing Morrison’s electoral fortunes in 2021 and beyond. To name just a handful: his central role in letting private aged-care providers run down staffing and other standards and protecting them from much-needed scrutiny, leading to hundreds of COVID deaths; his call early in the pandemic for those aged-care centres to be opened up; his role in the Sports Rorts affair that is far from dead, buried and cremated and if he hasn’t lied to Parliament over it, Barnaby Joyce will eat his hat; his central role in each and every stage of the Robodebt disaster that everyone apart from Morrison ministers knows led to many suicides; that some of his ministers continue to perform very poorly.
  • On a state level, Labor has done well in Queensland with red splashes up and down the state’s coastline. Gladys Berejiklian has lost a lot of bark in NSW with dodgy boyfriends and a sports rorts shocker of her own that has shredded more than just some documents.

So here’s The Glass House‘s advice to whoever wrote about Smoko’s
“iron grip” on Canberra: if you don’t want your news site’s owners to look stupid or rightwing or both, get a grip where it counts and stop writing shit about Morrison’s iron grip on power.

Strive to be at least a little bit different from the Father of the Nation, Wartime Leader Battling a Formidable Foe mythology, the Bunnings DIY champion, that the mainstream media are increasingly happy to pump out and, sadly, not just Newscorpse.

Begin your journey towards some sense of political nous by assessing all the points made above – pick them apart if you can but at least consider them – and all the while appreciate that Dennis Atkins has probably forgotten more about politics then you’ll ever be able to master in your working life.

And he’d probably appreciate an apology for that really stupid standfirst.