A Watermelon and Proud of It? On Richard Di Natale’s Press Club Speech

When Richard Di Natale became the leader of the Greens in 2015, he set about painting himself as a pragmatist, as someone in politics to Get Things Done. Perhaps sensing that the Greens are often viewed as unworldly, as political naïfs, he set out a new vision of the party as the voice of principled compromise. ‘I am not an ideologue’ he declared in a press conference, shortly after assuming his new post. Later in the day, he criticised the Abbott government on the grounds that it was ‘deeply ideological’. Clearly ‘deeply ideological’ was a bad thing to be, in Di Natale’s view.

Such rhetoric was both unsurprising and discouraging. Dissing ideology is a favourite sport among politicians, and a sign either that they haven’t understood what an ideology is, or that they have understood what it is but have decided for reasons of political expediency to paint themselves as its antidote, as ‘reality’ and ‘common sense’ incarnate. In Di Natale’s case, I took it as an indication that he was preparing to move his party to ‘the centre’, which is (I won’t need to tell NM readers) no less ‘ideological’ than a head-kicker for the CFMEU with a hammer-and-sickle tattoo on his arse. More so, in fact, since at least the head-kicker knows that politics involves a battle for resources and that the dominant ideology will tend to reflect the priorities of the people who find themselves on top of the pile. [More here.]