Monday, September 1, 2008

Milne watch

Today marks the beginning of an occasional blog piece on this site noting the contributions of News Limited Federal politics pundit and occasional pugilist Glenn Milne.

I am particularly interested in examples of:
  1. Shameless spruiking on behalf of Peter Costello;
  2. Passing off comments from Liberal Party staffers as original political insight (e.g. "ute men decided the Gippsland by-election").
If you have any examples of this or other characteristic forms of Milne-speak, please pass them on.

Today's edition of The Australian provided us with a very good example of the first of these.

The dinner demonstrated that Costello has taken the Liberal Party hostage. And they love him for it. But in this case Costello is both hostage taker and saviour.

The central contradiction at the heart of this gala night was that it clearly showcased why Costello should be leading the Liberals and then offered no resolution as to how - or even whether - this would happen.

First, Tony Smith, Costello's former staffer and now the Opposition spokesman on education, recited his ex-boss's achievements in government: "Commonwealth debt eliminated, surpluses replaced deficits and funding freed up in key areas of national concern."

There followed a video of Costello's killer moments in parliament. The baby-faced shadow attorney-general destroying Ros Kelly's career over the sports rorts affair, an assault that shredded the credibility of the Keating government and presaged its defeat in the 1996 election. Through to his devastating ridicule of Peter Garrett selling out his core beliefs, replete with an imitation over the despatch box of the former Midnight Oil frontman's mechanical twitchings and a rendition of Beds Are Burning.

The ecstatic reaction of the faithful served to remind everyone of Costello's capacity to instantly turn the mood in parliament. The question hanging in the air was: What if it was him, rather than Brendan Nelson, sitting opposite Kevin Rudd?


On the evidence of Friday night's cracker of a speech to the faithful, Costello still remains a riddle inside a question. The address was textured, by turns funny, warm, personal and packing a political punch. Having walked into the venue declaring the event neither a farewell nor a resurrection, "just a thank you", Costello observed that usually in politics you have to wait until your funeral to hear people say nice things about you.

Not while Glenn Milne's writing.

1 comment:

Huge said...

I'd like to help you, Terry, but I haven't paid the slightest attention to Milne for years and see no reason to change that right now ...

But keep up the good work.