Like most on twitter today (errr…yesterday now) I was briefly captivated by the No Carbon Tax Rally held in Canberra. In my mind, there was too much attention paid to it by both the media and the twitterati. I tweeted at the time that I felt uneasy about berating the protestors, despite some truly bizarro signage. While people should be criticised for their beliefs, I don’t doubt for a moment they are genuinely held. Do I think their opinions are misguided? Yes, incredibly so.
Therein lies my problem with the fixation on a few protestors from the lunar right. Targeting these people is small-time, and it’s petty. If the left, and moderate elements of the right, want to reclaim the climate change debate they need to counter the powerful narratives being disseminated in the media. I don’t just mean talkback radio, either. The language used in the climate change debate is like carthasis at times. A general release of tension and grievances from the hard right of Australian politics. This was reflected in the messages of the protesters today, which was diffuse at best, and confused at worst. The reporting of news in major media outlets has helped to create this tension, in my opinion. The language in news reports is that of imminent and radical change, of escalating pressures. This is what we ought to be challenging. Not the buggers who believe in it. But the bastards who don’t, and still disseminate it.
Anyway, I’m off topic. I wanted to provide Tony Abbott some unsolicited advice. SHUT UP. I mean it. About climate change, just shut up. Tactically, Abbott should be happy to allow these protests to happen, but be publicly distancing himself from them. He has mastered this language in public – well I thought he had until the last few days. He has held simultaneous positions with the public. He has used coded language and different mediums to perfection. An Opposition leader who believes in climate change *wink* and wants to do something about it *wink*.
But people are beginning to wonder. Confusion seems to be rising, and the ALP are finally pushing him on his contradictory orientations on climate change. With that development, Abbott ought to allow the harder elements of the right, and his own base, to vent their frustrations, but he needs to be publicly strong in support of his climate policy. He cannot be appearing in front of placards at a rally reading “Ju-liar”, “bitch” and so on. This will only further fuel confusion and will make moderate elements of his base question where he is taking them. Let it happen, Tony, these people at the #noCTrally will vote for you, or preference you, anyway. You need to be credible and consistent on climate change, or you will lose the bulk of the middle voters who will listen to your rants about costs of living, but will be disturbed by your active acceptance of more extreme elements of the right.
I want what’s best for you, Rabbit.