Why don't people like Tony Abbott?

I went to the movies a few weeks back with my mate Glen to see a film called Legion.

It had so much promise.  The poster showed an Angel ready for battle.  Clearly this film was going to focus on spiritual warfare which, quite frankly, sounded all kinds of awesome.

Really though, I should’ve been a little more sceptical in my thoughts.  Because, in a nutshell, the film absolutely sucked.

It didn’t even suck a little bit.  It was truly awful.  Those are two hours of my life I’m never getting back.

The thing is though, I had no chance to be sceptical because it was such a good poster.  The way the poster was designed, and heck, even the name of the film meant that there was no way I wouldn’t go and see this movie.

I fear it’s a little like this with Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. 

With Gillard, the fact that she’s a female Prime Minister is quite a novelty.  There will be those who vote for her purely because she’s female.  There will also be those that vote for her purely because she’s not Tony Abbott.

And that, my friends, is the big problem for Tony.  He is such a polarising figure. 

When I talk to my friends about Tony Abbott, there’s very little middle ground.  People either really like him or simply can’t stand him.  It’s seldom you’ll find someone who’ll say, “Tony Abbott? Yeah, he’s ok.”

This got me thinking about why people don’t like Tony Abbott.

Firstly, there are people who oppose him socially.  The fact that he’s conservative on social issues like gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research etc leave him vulnerable to statements such as “He’s stuck in the 1960s” or “He’s such a dinosaur subscribing to those beliefs,” or “He’s so out of touch with everyone else.”

The thing here is, these people are never going to vote for Abbott.  If that’s people’s mindset to Tony, then he shouldn’t bother campaigning to them.  It’s like a Christian attending an atheist convention, or Lindsay Lohan hosting a seminar on celibacy.  It’s a match that will never really fit.

Secondly, there are the people that just LOOOOOOVE Julia Gillard.  As for why they love her?  Well, I’m not sure.

Perhaps it’s because she’s female.  Perhaps it’s because she’s a red head.  Perhaps it’s because she’s unmarried and has no kids.  Either way, these people will never vote for Abbott because he’s not Julia Gillard.  Again, I don’t think Abbott should waste time campaigning there because these people wouldn’t vote for him anyway.

Then there’s the people like me, who are just that little bit uncomfortable with him.  If you remember reading my 2007 election recap I mentioned that Tony Abbott’s incredible number of screw ups was one of the two biggest reasons that the Coalition lost that election.

There’s no need for me to recap them all now, but holy moly, he set perhaps an unbreakable record for screw ups.   

And that’s what worries me about Tony.  He has the political equivalent of foot and mouth disease.  You can set your clock by how long it will be before he puts his foot in his mouth again on the campaign trail, and do I really want someone like that as my Prime Minister?

Although I see eye to eye with Tony on a number of ideological and social grounds, he does leave me a little worried.  And that’s where he needs to fire if the Coalition is going to win this election.

If Tony Abbott can start campaigning with conviction and win people’s trust, then he’ll be in a much stronger position come the election.

The other thing that may work in his favour is the fact that Julia Gillard, now she’s Prime Minister, can’t avoid those tricky interviews she was so good at side-stepping for the past two years. 

Her Lateline interview earlier this week was the stuff of legend.  Tony Jones absolutely eviscerated her and now she’s in a tailspin with every man and his dog wondering why she didn’t bother to consult the East Timor government on building a damn refugee processing centre there.

(Seriously though, isn’t that amazing?  She planned to build a processing centre for potential refugees in another country, without even consulting the government???  It’d be like me announcing that I was engaged to Jennifer Hawkins without actually having spoken to her.  And yes, that’s the only time you’ll see the words “me” “Jennifer Hawkins” and “engaged” in the same sentence.  Ever.)

The funny thing is, I expected people to give her a free ride on this.  I suspected many people would just shrug their shoulders and say, “So what?”

Well, people aren’t.  Not at all.

The Twitter universe universally panned Gillard’s performance on Lateline.  It was absolutely enthralling stuff.  Then, the next day, every journalist was queuing up to take pot shots at her.  It was fabulous to watch.

And this could be Abbott’s Trojan horse.  In all people’s predictions that an Abbott stuff up would cost him the Lodge (including yours truly’s!) it turns out that the shoe may be on the other foot.

It may in fact be Gillard’s stuff ups that cost her the Lodge.  She’s already pledged to delay the ETS til 2013.  Which, by the way, makes her climate change policy identical to Tony Abbott’s.

Her asylum seeker policy is also virtually identical to Tony Abbott’s.

Her back down on the mining tax was amazing, and only the fact that she wasn’t Kevin Rudd saved her from a universal panning.

In essence, she’s had a rocky start, and the fact that she’s new and female is starting to lose its lustre.

Where do we go from here?  Well, last time I looked, the Coalition’s odds were $3.30 to win the election.  Now, if I was a betting man, sticking a cheeky $100 on the Coalition to win could be a pretty interesting flutter.

Only if... you know... I was a betting man.

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Seriously, like you wouldn't watch a
movie with a poster like this.

Tony has found it hard to connect
with sections of the Australian public.
My feelings for Jennifer Hawkins
have never really been a secret