Beauty and the Beast...Is my prediction for the ALP leaders who'll take on Howard in 2007: Kim Beastly and Julia Gillard. And I predict that they'll lose. And I predict that Gillard will choose that moment to gun for the top job. And I don't think she'll get it.
Big predictions for quite a long time away, but reading the various mumblings about the "inappropriateness" of a single, childless woman being the Opposition leader or (heaven forbid) Prime Minister makes you realise how, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Nearly 40 years after the feminist movement began in earnest to re-define the roles and expectations of women in society, and we still have unnamed Labor MPs saying shit like: "The electorate doesn't want a left-wing sheila". But suckily, perception is reality. If enough people believe that a single childless woman should not be leader of a large political party for those very reasons alone, then as wrong and fucked-up as those beliefs are, they will stop people voting Labor and consign us to another decade or so of Howard (another prediction: Howard will continue leading the party until he dies. I'm sure he has Menzies record in his sights now. Poor P.C. looks so forlorn in his bridesmaid outfit...)
Interestingly, Julia has an unexpected ally in the Herald's Divine Miranda (http://www.smh.com.au/news/Miranda-Devine/Single-childless-Its-the-perfect-mix-for-leadership/2005/01/26/1106415665621.html). For once, she's written a column praising rather than bashing a maligned subculture and (gasp) shown some feminist solidarity. My guess is that the Divine Miss M is herself childless and/or single and therefore in this situation it's in her own self-interest not to espouse her usual rightie propaganda, but if nothing else it was quite a refreshing column to read.
So for now I think all this puts Gillard in good step to shaft Jenny Macklin and take her rightful place as Deputy Opposition Leader at some point in 2005. But as I've said, I think in 2007 it won't come to much. Even if Labor wins that election (very unlikely), it will be a long time before the Beast is prepared to step aside for the beauty. If they lose, it's obvious we still have a long way to go - longer than 3 years - before Gillard will be accepted even as the humble Opposition Leader.
In many ways, Australians suck.