Trade expertise and the ability to rile the pious? You’re hired, Tony Abbott

A piece by Rod Liddle in today’s Sunday Times:

From The Sunday Times, January 14, 2021: “Britain’s trade deal with Canada hung in the balance last night after what was described as a ‘difficult exchange’ between Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, and a senior member of the UK government’s trade delegation. It is alleged that Sir Les Patterson asked Trudeau if he was ‘a poofter — no offence mate’, because he’d ‘never met a fella called Justin who wasn’t’.

“The prime minister is said to have taken offence, at which point Patterson, whom sources say was ‘well refreshed’, attempted to rectify the situation, telling Trudeau: ‘Nothing against poofters myself, of course, though personally speaking I’d rather eat a dingo’s jockstrap than get up to any of that malarkey. God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Justin. Again, no offence, Bruce. Now how about that deal on fish?’

“Patterson’s presence in the delegation had been widely criticised, although the UK’s recent successful deal with Russia was said to have been secured through a ‘close bond’ that developed between Patterson and Vladimir Putin, whom the Australian described as being ‘fair dinkum on everything, especially on our cross-dressing friends’.”

Back in the present, I can’t tell you how cheered I’ve been by the appointment of the former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott — largely, it has to be said, because it annoys all the people who deserve to be annoyed — the absolutists, the pious, the perpetually offended, the Labour Party. Abbott seems to have taken Patterson, that wonderful creation of Barry Humphries, as his role model (despite the marked lack of vomit stains on his tie).

I also like the fact that Abbott is a Liberal, despite being less liberal even than me by several hops of an athletic kangaroo on steroids.

That said, while Abbott has been called homophobic and misogynistic, his actual comments regarding gay people and women did not seem to me terribly transgressive, even if one might call them, um, a little dated. He has made reference to women doing the ironing, for example, which may be evidence of a somewhat restricted view of the female sex, but hardly adds up to hatred.

It is true that he led the campaign against gay marriage in Australia — but then he had the support of almost 40% of the country. He also said that he thought the best way for children to be brought up was by a man and a woman who are the children’s biological parents — which, I’m afraid, is less an opinion than a bald statement of the obvious, according to every empirical survey I have ever seen on the issue.

But the howling continues unabated. And you can understand the objections, no? It is vital, when we are appointing leaders of trade delegations, that we check with the eminent thespian Sir Ian McKellen, to be sure that he is happy with the people proposed. Important, too, that we run the list of names past the television scriptwriter Russell T Davies, the man who has ruined Doctor Who for an entire generation of children, with his dull, buttock-clenching, progressive storylines.

Members of the Labour Party, including that shape-shifting everyman Sir Keir Starmer, are also screaming blue murder — a reminder that they are not as far removed from the identitarian obsessions of their former leader as Starmer would, at times, like to make out.

This cancel culture stuff has happened before, of course. Both the late Roger Scruton and The Spectator’s Toby Young were booted off government bodies because liberals objected to their very existence. Or, at least, they were booted off because a Conservative government seemingly agreed with the thesis that nobody who is an actual conservative should ever be allowed to serve on a public body. For liberals, these people are remarkably intolerant, aren’t they?

If it were up to me, I’d make Tony Abbott the education secretary, specifically to sort out the rot kids get told in school about their gender choices. But that’s just me. All that matters now is Abbott’s enormous expertise on trade issues. That’s all. Not his views on women or gay people. Fair dinkum?

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