Everyone has had interesting conversations about the events of the last few days. I share some observations with you.
JG is being compared with Helen Clark who incidentally was not the first woman PM in New Zealand but the second (see here), but I for one had completely forgotten about Jenny Shipley.
Both women were tagged as frumps, and endless comments were passed about their hair. They have both been criticised for being "career women" [how many men are criticised for being 'career men'?] who chose not to have children. And bizarrely (as if this rubbish is not enough) eventually they are 'accused' of being lesbians!
It is interesting to note that Margaret Thatcher, who always seemed to me to be a formidable woman...was never tagged as lesbian...but there were the endless comments about her dress sense and her hair.
One conversation I had about why Gillard is preferable to Rudd (and early polling seems to suggest this...in a dramatic way) is that, although she was part of the Quattuorvirate ....is there such a word?... yet she is distinct from it.
My comment, though, is that at least she has (and is seen to have) a sense of humour. Rudd's humour always seemed forced.
This is a difference between Gillard and Clark, and I suspect Thatcher. She obviously has a wry sense of humour and enjoys people. She is affable, and seems to get along with almost anyone. Clark was often seen to be withdrawn and humourless, and Rudd...just totally self-contained. Thatcher ferocious and and almost a caricature of herself.
I do remember a story about Thatcher which Keith Rayner told after his return from the 1988 Lambeth Conference. But it was more of a joke at her expense rather than an indication of her sense of humour. It went something like this
Thatcher (also like Rudd something of a one-person band) and her Cabinet were in the middle of some pretty gruesome discussions and she was working them really hard. Finally they just had to break for dinner so she took them all to dinner to give them a break.The waiter came and took orders naturally he came to her first and she said"I'll have the rump steak, very rare, with the blood dripping out!".Such waiters are meant to not skip a beat in the face of any extremity so simply said,"And the vegetables?"To which Thatcher replied,"They'll have the same as me!"