Sep 122011

Shakespeare’s Richard III could easily be applied to Australian politics in certain ways.

We’ve all read the many and various opinions in the media about the rise and rise of Kevin Rudd’s popularity among the great unwashed voting populace. The man, before his axing, was anathema to many for his bull-at-a-gate approach to contentious issues and his seemingly contradictory handling of the Climate Change inspired ETS. He is obviously one of those political animals that we, the electors, either love or hate passionately. Yes, he was cut down in what might be seen in hindsight as his prime. Yes, it was the first time in Australia’s political history that a sitting PM was unseated by his own party, and purely because popular opinion polls said he was falling away from the cheek-by-jowl relationship with the people Australian media infers political leaders simply must have, in order to deliver prudent governance. Yet, the collective main stream media doesn’t elect governments. Or does it? The comments which attach to this op-ed by Peter Hartcher tend to bear out the obvious fact that popular opinion is indeed swayed by the endless round of variously worded polls. Let’s be clear, Prime Ministers do not create public policy. Only governments create and endorse public policy. We, the people, elect governments, we do not elect Prime Ministers, yet the media vow and declare, via their popular opinion polls, that we do.
King Richard III of England acted in a malevolent fashion in usurping the rights of his dead brother’s offspring by removing them from the public gaze, enlightening popular opinion to their illegitimacy. A cowed people’s government, such as it was in the Middle Ages, went along with his entreaties. But other pretenders saw through his actions. They ensured that the people saw Richard’s actions as those of a power thief and took him and his forces to a civil conflict which eventually resulted in the downfall of Richard and his followers just under 2 years and one month from the coronation of the Machiavellian King.
From the play, because as we all know, the play is the thing:

Rescue, my Lord of Norfolk, rescue, rescue! The king enacts more wonders than a man, daring an opposite to every danger. His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights, seeking for Richmond in the throat of death. Rescue, fair lord, or else the day is lost!
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!
Withdraw, my lord; I’ll help you to a horse.
Slave, I have set my life upon a cast, and I will stand the hazard of the die. I think there be six Richmonds in the field. Five have I slain to-day instead of him. A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

Is Catesby an analog for the Labor Party? Is Richard the Labor Party and Catesby the populace spurred on by ceaseless media-driving polling? The horse, of course, is Rudd, that much is evident. A horse was found for the humpbacked and hamstrung head honcho and he rode into a battle that resulted in his death. The horse – our simile for Kevin Michael Rudd – probably wandered off the field of battle to munch some grass while his rider bled to death.
Just some entertaining analogies that I felt worthwhile exploring. I’m sure there are better ones out there, but for me, Act 5, Scene 4 speaks volumes.

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