Saturday, May 07, 2005

Senator Brandis: Dog-whistling is the secret of Howard's success: "The political columnist Matthew Parris, a former Conservative MP, has written a wonderful piece which begins: 'May I claim my prize? Unless I am much mistaken, and unless my internet searches have missed something, it was I who brought the expression 'dog-whistling' to British politics. I did not invent it. For this honour - as for a good deal of vulgarly succinct modern slang - we have the Australians to thank. I borrowed the phrase from John Howard's election campaign.

"'It happened like this. In July 2003 two senators from Queensland contacted me to say they were shortly to visit Britain on a study tour and would like to meet me to discuss British politics. Flattered, I readily agreed. Senators George Brandis and Brett Mason came round to my flat and the three of us sat by the Thames on a late July day, discussing our politics and theirs.

"'They seemed decent, clever and interesting men, both members of Prime Minister John Howard's governing Liberal Party, although (I sensed) a little to the liberal side of that deeply conservative politician. I asked them what their leader's secret might be, given he seemed to have all the charisma of a stoat, and yet he had a habit of sneaking through to victory at the hustings.

"' 'Dog-whistling,' they replied."

'Dog-whistling' is a skill that Howard learned after being punished in the 80s for his more or less openly racist, anti-Asian stance. However if the tactic proves successful, and as things begin to deteriorate, one cant see why the racism will not be open and undisguised in future.

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