Attacking what you support

Today in the Sunday News Limited papers there’s a story by Samantha Maiden on Tony Abbott supporting his chief of staff Peta Credlin through IVF treatments.

The emotional triggers in the story are obvious given Tony Abbott made a big name for himself when he was the Health Minister in relation to his right to veto access to the abortion drug RU486 and his positions on various issues involving the right to life and what families value are seen to be heavily influenced by his Catholicism and the influence of Cardinal George Pell, B.A Santamaria and many others.

This post is not so much about this news story which I think is kind of meaningless. “Political leader supports chief of staff on issue where he’s caused controversy” … Newspapers need content in order to sell advertising. A journalist does their job by writing a story. A family spends time at a beach on a Sunday afternoon. The dog barks and the caravan moves on. So what?

What I find strange is the tendency from supporters on both “sides” of politics to attack people on the other “side” who do things or have positions on issues that they either support or don’t oppose.

If you’re a progressive, there’s a very strong likelihood you support women undergoing IVF treatment if they’re having difficulty conceiving. Many progressives get very angry when conservatives oppose it’s use and for very good reasons.

So when Abbott is alleged to have said something along the lines of ” I am not against IVF, I am passionate for IVF. Anything that helps families is a good thing, it’s not a bad thing”, you’d think many on the progressive “side” of politics wouldn’t have a problem with that.

Looking at the reaction to the piece however, it looks like the opposite was the case. It’s almost as if there are progressives who want Abbott to be opposed to women receiving IVF treatment just so they can attack him!

This has been one of the Liberal Party’s tactics since Abbott became leader and it has allowed them to control the frame of the national conversation. Support something progressives support, let progressives attack them for being inconsistent and then point out the hypocrisy of how progressives oppose something they support just because “Tony Abbott” supposedly supports it.

So we’re apparently all hypocrites (on Sunday, no less), but Abbott’s got control of the frame and that’s all he and his chief of staff care about. The ability for a story like this to influence public opinion is only dependent on progressives attacking Abbott and his chief of staff over it.

People aren’t going to see Abbott differently on women’s issues because of a piece in a newspaper or an interview with his chief of staff in Marie Clare magazine. Views on this topic are well and truly entrenched. All getting triggered by it and attacking it does is allow conservatives and Abbott a way out of the mess of their own making.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the partisan battle over personalities while losing track of what the issues are. I think the key to overcoming this kind of tactic is to know where you stand, know when to agree and know when to attack. Otherwise you get caught in the trap of repeatedly attacking what you support which is probably the least effective way to create the society you want to create.


38 thoughts on “Attacking what you support

  1. Sunny Shamrock January 6, 2013 at 4:28 am Reply

    I think most of the outrage has been directed at the media and the prominent coverage News Ltd has given what is a puff piece.

    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 5:14 am Reply

      So what? News Limited has an agenda. Who cares? They have barely any influence over the public debate. They like to believe they do and they like their readers to believe they do and they absolutely love progressives to believe they do, but they don’t.

      • Noely (@YaThinkN) January 6, 2013 at 9:58 am

        Actually not true. Many many think “If it is in the paper then it must be true”. It is only people who are ‘interested’ in politics that are disparaging and a bit more discerning where they get their news. Hence it being important.

      • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm

        You’d be very surprised. Media’s ability to influence what people pay attention to let alone what to believe is extremely limited

  2. denniallen January 6, 2013 at 4:36 am Reply

    Abbott does NOT support IVF for single women and women in same sex relationships…thats what progressives are pointing out…he should support it for ALL Australian women…not just those ones who according to Abbott should be in a marriage b/w a woman and a man….

    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 5:09 am Reply

      Sure and that inconsistency is where the emotional trigger is. By attacking it, you give people like him an opening to attack their way out of the mess he’s made for himself. The public have extremely firm opinions on his views and they aren’t going to change unless they’re given an opportunity.

  3. puffytmd January 6, 2013 at 4:43 am Reply


  4. C@tmomma January 6, 2013 at 5:18 am Reply

    What a load of unmitigated bollocks, Gordon.
    The article is a puff piece concocted between Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin & Abbott’s campaign manager, Mr Peta Credlin, to try and show that Tony has a sensitive side, really, he’s not a chauvinist pig.
    Any woman who knows anything about IVF will tell you that Peta Credlin’s story about the IVFmeds in the fridge is BS. You need to be in a stress-free environment, where you are relaxed, before you take your shot of ovulation-inducing hormones. A bit of sex after doesn’t go astray either, you know, just to get your body thinking it wants to actually make babies.
    And like a typical gullible, know-nothing male, you have fallen for the fairy floss bait, hook, line and sinker.
    Mate, you’re the one Credlin wanted to suck in, and boy, has she succeeded.

    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 5:23 am Reply

      And you’re the one who’s falling for it hook, line and sinker

  5. bemused January 6, 2013 at 5:29 am Reply

    Good post Gordon but not surprised to see you copping it from the usual suspects.

    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 5:34 am Reply

      Thank you

  6. C@tmomma January 6, 2013 at 5:29 am Reply

    Sorry, mate, I don’t do smug rejoinders. I haven’t fallen for a single thing from that crew.
    ‘Intensely private’ my pimply, white backside. It was all over the front page of every Murdoch tabloid Sunday rag.
    What did Barnum & Bailey say? There’s one born every minute. Credlin & Abbott must be sending around a flunky to kiss your feet right now, you’ve pretty much singlehandedly given them just the out they were looking for.


    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 6:00 am Reply

      I think you’re looking for this site

      • bemused January 6, 2013 at 6:14 am

        Yes, you have come under even more attack there Gordon, and since my post complimenting yours, so have I. It is a very strange parallel universe indeed!

      • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 6:22 am

        The sad thing is that they constantly fall for this stuff … And then they develop battle plans for attacking people who disagree with them … And so on. This place is about communication, psychology and some of the more subtler ideas as they relate to politics as well as my thoughts and experiences. This is not a place for the “24 hour media cycle” and the rest of the partisan echo chamber

  7. Charles January 6, 2013 at 6:21 am Reply

    I have also been in the political agenda of Australia for 40 or so years, and refuse to pick which side would win government, bu what i have seen today through this article is

    i m neutral but labor supporters get ready to celebrate

    Gordan is defending news ltd , means the coalition under Abbott is in trouble and can not win the election

  8. Jason January 6, 2013 at 6:30 am Reply

    I think you’re looking for this site
    Talk about a glass jaw!

    Gordon If Abbott won’t provide any policies to scrutinize, then we scrutinize what we can: his character.I coulndn’t give a toss if “Peta’s” husband fires blanks or she’s left her run at being a mother to late. Not mine or the countries problem!

    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 8:17 am Reply

      If Abbott won’t provide any policies to scrutinize, then we scrutinize what we can

      Think about the entire context of this

  9. bemused January 6, 2013 at 6:43 am Reply

    I agree with what you say Gordon.
    But it is useful to have that other place and others like to provide an outlet for the batshit insanity so that sites like yours that provide for serious discussion are relatively free of the nonsense.
    Keep up the good work.

  10. Possum Comitatus January 6, 2013 at 6:54 am Reply

    Howard’s comms and strategy folks won ten years of politics with the culture wars by exploiting this same broad dynamic.

    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 7:14 am Reply

      They sure did!

  11. Leroy Lynch January 6, 2013 at 7:08 am Reply

    I think the main thing is that the govt isn’t biting. Roxon was spot on today. The only backlash I’ve seen is on twitter by anti LNP tweeters, possible some blogs. The public won’t see anything. So Gordon I don’t expect the trap you identify (which is worth pointing out) to become an issue. I also note that the original articles didn’t seem to feature in the “most read” lists on the News Ltd sites.

    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 7:13 am Reply

      Fair points Leroy. It’s a shame certain progressives on social media aren’t following their lead. As for the media impact, who cares? They have little influence over public opinion anyway

  12. Leroy Lynch January 6, 2013 at 7:24 am Reply

    I think you share with Andrew Elder at least one point of agreement. He seems to think the media opinion efforts/bias, in particular the papers, don’t matter and won’t matter when election day comes around. I think think it still does have an effect, at least in the short term. Over the long run less so. Still, its one of the fields of battle, and I like it when people take the fight up to sections of the media, you just have to do it well and with facts rather than with abuse or treating all employees of each org as the same.

    • bemused January 6, 2013 at 7:29 am Reply

      Leroy, the problem with a lot of the “take the fight up to the media” stuff is that it is just “feel good” rants by the poster and will have the opposite affect on the target to what may be intended. It is not in the least persuasive and will make the target even more hostile.

    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 7:30 am Reply

      I share many points of agreement with Andrew. Especially in regards to how the Liberal Party is run internally

  13. Leroy Lynch January 6, 2013 at 7:34 am Reply

    bemused – I find pulling them up on facts or asking leading questions can work somewhat (many don’t care of course). I tried angry twitter posts very early on, but yes that doesn’t work so well.

  14. bemused January 6, 2013 at 7:40 am Reply

    Leroy, I have never seen you make any of the rants I have in mind. The worst include some pretty low rent personal jibes at individual journalists and how anyone could expect them to influence the journalists, in a positive way, is beyond me.
    I am sure you know some of the people I refer to.

  15. Jason January 6, 2013 at 8:36 am Reply

    If Abbott won’t provide any policies to scrutinize, then we scrutinize what we can

    Think about the entire context of this

    I have the problem is what?

    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 8:39 am Reply

      More a question of who’s in control of the scrutiny, who (I assume) is supporting the government, who is the opposition, what their roles are and the public’s expectations of them

  16. Jason January 6, 2013 at 8:48 am Reply

    Gordon I’m one of 200 who produces an anti body for pregnant women called Anti D! Perhaps I should be in Abbott’s office so he can use that to further his appeal with women!
    Policy or lack of seems to be of little concern to you!

    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 9:38 am Reply

      On the contrary. I know exactly what Mr Abbott’s real position on this issue is. What I am trying to explain is how he’s able to get away with it. Howard used the same tactics in government constantly and the only reason he got away with them for over 10 years is because progressives didn’t understand what he was doing! Many still don’t

  17. Jason January 6, 2013 at 10:12 am Reply

    Howard never never had to contend with the rise of the fifth estate as it stands today or the proliferation of social media!
    Abbott does! and there was supposed to be an edict from Credlin to the LNP not to use social media because they might put their foot in it!

  18. Jason January 6, 2013 at 11:38 am Reply

    To prove a point about social media until “Possum Comitatus” tweeted today about your blog, I’d never heard of it! And it seems according to the data in your “Recent Posts” today is the best day of your blogging life!
    So forget what worked for Howard 10 years ago few had heard of you 10 days ago!

    • Gordon January 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm Reply

      Not 10 years ago. For 10 years! Big difference!

      Also, social media tools merely amplify these sorts of tactics. The principles always remain the same regardless of the tools

  19. Jason January 6, 2013 at 12:57 pm Reply

    As Jack Snellings sub branch secretary and as a member of the Makin FEC care to come as a guest speaker one night?

  20. thewetmale January 7, 2013 at 1:25 am Reply

    Out of curiosity, in this brave new world of progressives not tying themselves in knots over Tory media campaigns, would it make sense for Labor spinners to bring up Stephen Conroy’s own IVF story (or indeed that of any other MP) as a counter? Or would that also be buying into the Conservatives’ framing?

    • Gordon January 7, 2013 at 1:39 am Reply

      I think it’s reacting to the conservatives framing. The only reason they do this sort of thing is because they’re trying to provoke inconsistency in order to play their petty games and distract attention from the major issues. It’s not worth responding to if you ask me.

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