The Egoism of ‘Compassionate’ Politics: It’s All About Them

If politics is showbiz for ugly people, then “progressive” politics is a telethon staffed by desperate reality TV contestants. Oozing false sincerity, they pretend to, like, really, really care, but all they really care about is hogging the spotlight to further their own tawdry careers.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s shameless gurning for the cameras in front of an empty parking lot, while wearing immaculate designer threads and a Gucci watch, is perhaps the oily apotheosis of look-at-me progressive politics. Golriz Ghahraman gives AOC a run for her money, though; as does the Australian Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young, weeping copious tears for refugee kiddies even as she trumpets the very policies that put them in detention centres or at the bottom of the sea.

Not even Tasmania is immune.

A cabinet reshuffle in Tasmania may cost the state Liberal government its majority, after Speaker Sue Hickey threatened to sit as an independent in protest at not getting a ministry.

If readers have never heard of Ms Hickey, they can take comfort in the fact that few Tasmanians have either. Hickey is one of that crepuscular breed of politician who spends years building little personal empires without ever actually seeming to do much of anything.

From mayor of Hobart – one of the most “very special” jobs in Australian politics outside of sitting in the ACT Assembly – Hickey managed to worm her way into state parliament simply by virtue of snaffling a Liberal ticket in an election where it was obvious to everyone that Labor and the Greens were in for a hiding. Hickey promptly betrayed her party by voting with Labor and the Greens to award herself the speaker’s job.

Hickey, with Greens politician Cassie O’Connor, is responsible for the reprehensible transgender laws imposed on Tasmanians earlier this year. These laws were never canvassed with the voters and, despite overwhelming public opposition, Hickey ensured they were rammed through the parliament.

It would be bad enough if Hickey really believed her own rubbish, but her selfish desperation to hog the spotlight fooled no-one. Now, she expects to be rewarded for her duplicity.

Premier Will Hodgman today overlooked the maverick speaker in a midterm reshuffle that dumped beleaguered Health Minister Michael Ferguson, whose performance had been widely criticised.

Instead of elevating Ms Hickey, who gained the speakership by voting with Labor and the Greens and has crossed the floor repeatedly, Mr Hodgman promoted parliamentary secretary Mark Shelton to Cabinet.

Shelton is another time-server, but at least he genuinely does bugger-all and harms no-one. Cue an epic tanty from an attention-grabber scorned.

“This is the second time I’ve been publicly snubbed by the Premier and the Liberal government (for a cabinet spot) so I’m considering my place in the party,” [Hickey] said.

“I believe that the Liberals are making a statement that they don’t necessarily want me in government…”


Well, thank you, Madam Obvious.

Across the world from the highest places to the lowest – United States Congress, to the Beehive, to the sheltered workshop that is the Tasmanian parliament – politics is plagued with these oleaginous egomaniacs, all of a type. Almost invariably female (Eliot satirised them as “Gumby Cats”, “deeply concerned with the ways of the mice…thinks that the cockroaches just need employment”, whilst Orwell derided them as “that dreary tribe of ‘high-minded’ women”), solidly bourgeois, yet ascribing to whacky, “progressive” ideals with all the zeal of a cat’s-bum-mouthed Temperance Union activist.

But their single unifying trait is their humble-bragging egocentrism. Whether it’s cycling pregnant to the hospital or pulling sad faces for the TV cameras, these feminine Uriah Heeps pretend to be ever so ‘umble, but the truth is that everything is about them.