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Sep 13, 2013

When you hate on Mirabella, you’re one step from the fruit bowl

It's become the hobby du jour in Leftie ghettoes to hate on Sophie Mirabella as she struggles to hold her seat. Mirabella's crime? She is apparently annoying and unlikeable. Let's stop and think about that.

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Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella’s struggle to hold her seat at the federal election has spawned a cult of vitriol from many on the Left. It’s the hobby du jour in inner-city Melbourne to hate on Mirabella, and the prime target is her personality. A quick read of social media left me thinking: “imagine if she got terminal cancer. These people would be over the moon.”

Mirabella’s crime? She is, apparently, annoying and a bad person. She is a terrible woman. She did not help Simon Sheikh when he fainted on TV. And no — there’s not necessarily a great deal more to it than that.

Mirabella’s failure — the result is not final, but she may well lose her Victorian seat of Indi to charismatic independent Cathy McGowan on preferences — has been seized upon by the Left as a redemptive foil to all that’s gone wrong for Labor over the past six years. And there’s a lot. After six troubled years of ALP government, most of it plagued by leadership instability, capped off by a resounding election defeat, those sympathetic to the Left don’t have much to celebrate. Mirabella’s defeat, along with Adam Bandt’s win in the seat of Melbourne, is it. That’s two seats out of 226. It makes sense that lefties are crowing about Mirabella. There’s so little else to crow about.

For that crowing to take the form it has — intense dislike of someone’s personality — is demeaning, to Mirabella and to the haters.

Ironically, it’s similar behaviour to that displayed by people on the Right who so hated former prime minister Julia Gillard. Gillard was, in the eyes of some critics, an awful and annoying woman. She deserved to be hated. She had no children, a hairdresser boyfriend, and her fruit bowl was empty. Kick her out! Burn the witch!

So here’s a tip. If you railed against the treatment of Gillard, stop and think before you do the same thing to Mirabella.

Clearly Mirabella is not a popular MP, despite having quite a senior role as the opposition’s spokeswoman for Innovation, Industry and Science. While the Coalition nationally received a favourable 3.5% swing on the two-party-preferred, Mirabella’s vote went backwards by 7%. Is she loses Indi, it will be one of only two lower-house seats the Coalition lost in the election (the other being Fairfax, which looks likely to fall from the LNP to Clive Palmer). Mirabella was not seen as a strong local member. She is indeed towards the Right of her party (although if you think she was actually pushing the Coalition towards the right, you’re on the wrong track. You should be hating on others). And there is a bad smell around a relationship she had with an older man, Colin Howard — Mirabella ended up in dispute with Howard’s adult children over his estate. By all means, criticise her for all this. It’s fair game.

Criticise her policy statements. Fact check her arguments. Dispute her speeches. Attack the policies which she had carriage of as a frontbencher.

But for those who are lazily hating on her because of her personality, beware. You’re turning politics into a nasty, spiteful place where the latest witch is selected by Twitter and thrown onto the pyre.

Cathy Alexander —

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

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59 thoughts on “When you hate on Mirabella, you’re one step from the fruit bowl

  1. robynfrombrisbane

    How offensive to lecture readers based on your lazy presumption that we do not have good reason to dislike this extremely unlikeable politician. Your bias jumps out with your statement that people dislike her simply because she is an annoying and bad person, ie “And no — there’s not necessarily a great deal more to it than that”. As other commentators have pointed out there is a great deal more to it than that – her attitude to the Stolen Generation, her antagonistic attitude to asylum seekers etc.etc. And then you go on to characterise those who are pleased she has not been re elected as lefties crowing because there is not much else to crow about. Again, you ignore the substantial reasons why there was such an unusual grassroots revolt against the sitting member in Indi. I am trialling Crikey at the moment and if the Deputy Editor writes such a poor standard of journalism – forget it. This article would fail a ‘clear thinking’ assignment in year 10 English. You make rash assumptions, you are offensive, you do not understand your readership, you are clearly partisan and you don’t check your facts. You seem to want to cheer on the Conservative win by referring to the ‘favourable swing of 3.5% tpp’. Favourable? The primary swing against Labor was 4.3% compared to a 1.4% swing to the Liberal Party – with the remaining 2.9% going to other parties. One could conclude that although people wanted a change they were not all that attracted to Abbott and his colleagues who are every bit as right wing as Mirabella. And by the way, let’s all shout in joy. Antony Green has just ‘given’ Indi to the Independent.

  2. Paul Aviator

    Cathy Alexander and Helen Razor make valid points about the hate campaign being conducted by the indigocathy leaders. I’ve been watching the site since the election and whenever I posted a comment condemning the hate I invariably received a crude response. My criticism of the campaign is that their leadership did nothing to stop the vitriol. In fact it is clear that much of the incitement is being fed by McGowen’s family and the core team. My concern is that many of the local people posting the hate are young students and parents who now believe that hate is a valid form of criticism. My concerns have centred round how this validation of their behaviour will impact on their futures. How would they treat a work colleague or an employer they didn’t like? Would they conduct a hate campaign to get their way in a dispute? How would they treat other people on local committees who disagreed with their point of view? What would they do to a business competitor?
    At no time have I defended Mirrabella, only the methods used to destroy her. I’ve never seen her on QandA or met her so I don’t believe I can make an argument for or against her. I can however condemn the vitriol, videos and photos the McGowan team post continuously with the sole purpose of ridicule and hatred. To me they seem to be replacing Mirrabella with someone who represents everything they detest about her.
    If Mirrabella hasn’t served her electorate well then by all means run another candidate, but show some leadership and do it with dignity and a modicum of ethics.
    If you investigate who is actually behind this campaign it makes an interesting read and you could be forgiven for not believing that they have the overwhelming support of the electorate. The count supports this view. To me this is an example of a small group of people manipulating votes to achieve the result they want.
    Well done to you both for condemning hate for hate’s sake. I don’t pretend that because I agree with you that I am better than the indigocathy group. I’m just an observer of human behaviour. Outcomes achieved through public hate and vitriole don’t usually result in a happy ending. I think Julia Gillard’s and Kevin Rudd’s demise are perfect examples of this. Although JG, like CM did not say much publicly about Rudd, her team and Rudd’s team, like MGowen’s are a different matter altogether. Unfortunately the people of Indi will have to live with the result just as all Australians now live with the consequences of the hate between JG and KR.

  3. Swan Messiah

    Sophie Mirabella, a vile, entitled, arrogant sycophant, whose blatant ignorance and caustic debate, stifles any reasonable discourse on any given issue she takes part in. A troglodyte of the highest order, not because she’s a woman, but because she’s genuinely horrible. Why should her slow, agonising and public political death not spawn a “cult of vitriol” from the “Leftist ghettoes”? Mirabella is herself a member of this “cult of vitriol” you speak of, and I for one will unapologetically bathe in this rich lather of schadenfreude if indeed she is beaten. It is truly outrageous that you would accuse us haters of “turning politics into a nasty, spiteful place”. Mirabella has done this as much as any other Tory head kicker, including Pyne, Brandis, Abetz and indeed, Tony Abbott himself. All men for whom I would take similar joy upon their embarrassing, public downfall.

    We are not simply “lazily hating on her because of her personality” as you so lazily suggest. We hate on her for walking out on the apology to the Stolen Generation, for her denial of the existence of the Stolen Generation. We hate on her for her litigious nature that prevents the full story of her relationship with Colin Howard coming to light, and for his bankrolling of her into Indi in the first place. Lets not even delve into her alleged treatment of Howard in his final years of dementia, and her subsequent treatment of his children. We hate on Sophie for her ignorance of her electorate, her support of big tobacco, her loathing of workers rights, her general lack of compassion and her entitled attitude towards power in her electorate and in Canberra.

    It just so happens that the nature of Mirabella’s personality backs up all these claims, and thus it is used against her. Sophie would love to think of herself as a similar master of polemic, but she simply attacks when she is unable to grasp any reasonable arguments from which to pursue any reasonable and constructive political discourse. A nasty piece of work indeed. Any claims of misogyny would be silenced, if Christopher Pyne or George Brandis were to similarly lose their seats.

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