By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Suddenly, Last Winter: An Election Diary
By Bob Ellis (Viking, $32.95, softcover, 392 pages)
24 June 2010 was an historic day in Australian politics when Kevin Rudd’s deputy Julia Gillard grabbed the coveted top Labor job and became the country’s first woman Prime Minister.
“A midnight execution. An ill-timed, faltering campaign. Uneasy alliances. Parliament, hung. It was a cold, dark winter.”
Suddenly, Last Winter focuses on last year’s federal election that forms the prolific backdrop for a diarised account of events, starting with the quick ascent of Julia Gillard to the Labor leadership.
Did Mr Rudd “go down as one of the greatest self-inflicted wounds in Australia’s political history”? Was Ms Gillard “handed a poisoned chalice”?
Their paths are destined to keep crossing, with more unanswered questions – if the wrangle over the government’s emissions trading scheme is any indication.
Bob Ellis, writer, journalist, film-maker and political commentator, is blunt and delights in willfully making contradictions and writing and saying whatever he pleases. He has ruffled more than a few feathers.
There’s a lot of name-dropping. He reserves some of his most hurtful comments for Ms Gillard: “She likes to laugh merrily about most issues, which makes us wonder if she is a serious person” and then proceeds to outline how she has erred.
Tony Abbott possesses a “first-class mind” and is “formidable”, but draws the line at defending him on the war in Afghanistan and the treatment of the boat people.
Julia Gillard, Martin Ferguson and Simon Cream are dubbed the ‘Mouse Pack’, and he singles out independent Bob Katter as “my favourite human being”.
With clever use of words laced with sarcasm and perceptive interludes, Ellis records the party’s errant course, attends speeches and debates, confers with insiders, discusses films and plays and writes poems.
In his own cheerless fashion, Ellis uses his insider ‘awareness’ to open the door on Australian political life and expose the intrinsic human dramas that lie within.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.