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How J Gillard hope outpointed T Abbott larrikin in first debate

 In Learning from Luminaries, Politicians

Leaving aside who won the battle of the ideas and focusing on the battle of the words, voice, body language, presence and feeling tone, consistent with those of a prime minister and leader – Julia Gillard won tonight’s debate.

Gillard confirmed her own deep, genuine belief in herself as a leader, and in a positive hope for the future of the country. Debates are about emotional identification with voters. They turn on the revealing of a candidate’s personality, character and temperament. With this template to judge Gillard on – many voters will find her personality, character and temperament appealing.

Her hope for the country will emotionally touch them. It will resonate with the pride in themselves, and in the pride for their country. The first job of a leader is to provide hope and Gillard excelled in providing this – no better than in her closing presentation where her raw, down-to earthness, humanity and genuine hope for the country came to the fore.

Tony Abbott put in his usual workmanlike, dogged, larrikin performance, but he overdid his ‘fair dinkum’ mantra. He focused heavily on scoring points. He did not take the higher view and tone consistent with that of a prime minister and leader of a country.

My view is that Abbott is wedded to his larrikin personae – and uncomfortable with taking on the higher (un-larrikin) ground. Perhaps this is sourced in a latent fear of being a tall poppy. But if Abbott wants to be perceived as a leader of a state, he needs to embrace and wed himself to, the higher ground – because this is the domain of a leader. 

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