What would Anna Bligh do?

Image credit.

Anna Bligh, the Queensland Premier seems to finally be living up to the potential she showed when she first became Premier. Her leadership during this flood crisis matches much of what I have heard from those who have worked for and with her during her time as Premier – that she is calm, intelligent, respectful, decent, personable, sensible and brave – but the reality of her style never previously translated to her broader public image. Some of the criticism of Bligh applies across the board to politicians generally, who these days seem to be over-prepared for public appearances to the point of coming across as robotic and false.

On paper, Bligh’s credentials were always enough to seriously warm a feminist’s heart: for starters, she actually identifies as a feminist; she is from the Left faction of the Australian Labor Party and managed to gain support for leadership (no small feat); she is openly pro-choice; has spent the bulk of her relationship to her partner unmarried to him; is a mother to two children and a successful politician; was herself raised by a single mother; and also has a history in the women’s sector dating back to her university days. However, in spite of winning the last election as Premier in her own right she has still managed to be deeply unpopular with the electorate, and particularly so with her own faction on account of her decision to push through certain state asset sales (in highly unionised areas), a somewhat brittle public image, and an unwillingness to do much in the way of challenging her state’s draconian abortion laws. Bligh has been facing absolutely dismal opinion polls for a long time.

So then, cut to the preset and amongst all the anxiety and sadness being experienced with the flood crisis emerges something we’re entirely unaccustomed to, ‘Anna Bligh love’ – lots and lots and lots of it!

Has Anna earned herself a second chance? at brisbanetimes.com

(And one of the many positive comments that article has drawn)

Bligh has been incredible. I am a huge Anna hater and expected a poor performance from her. The emotion, the time she has spent informing the people, she has won another chance in my book.

Jimmy B | Brisbane – January 13, 2011, 6:52AM

Anna Bligh: bloody legend at Mamamia

(And one of the many positive comments that article has drawn)

GraceB says:

Am I the only one thinking of moving state just to be under Anna?

Some of the many, many positive comments under the #AnnaBligh hashtag on twitter

  • outsidethecubed: It’s how we deal with tough times that define us. #AnnaBligh has led with compassion,courage and grace. #Qldfloods
  • StMurphy: Its agreed. We’re all in love with #AnnaBligh for her resolve, commitment, grace & unbelievable recall of facts, & I’m from NSW!! #qldflood
  • AmplicateTL: Add your signature to Anna Bligh love page: http://j.mp/dRCooJ? #annabligh
  • picnickd (Nick Derwin): #AnnaBligh why are you not australias prime minister? So confident and literal. Praying for #qldfloods.
  • meljaho (Mel): When I grow up I want to be #AnnaBligh @TheQldPremier
  • Jacatra (Arry Tanusondjaja): Impressed with #AnnaBligh – empathic & decisive. Not so with #JuliaGillard : slow, emotionless speech & perfect appearance in disaster zone?
  • jenmac81 (Jennifer McDonald): #AnnaBligh you deserve to be trending! Your making us proud to be Queenslanders!! #QldFloods
  • aspinall (Craig Aspinall): It’s times like this that you discover the true nature of a person or organisation. @QPSMedia and #AnnaBligh are doing an awesome job!
  • roooney83 (James Fiander): I LOVE ANNA BLIGH! she has an auslan translator at her press conference. #qldfloods #love #annabligh
  • Candiieace (Candice Graham): #AnnaBligh is being really strong for Australia… SO proud to be aussie
  • TassTassi (Natasha Horne): #AnnaBligh – such a strong woman! QLD and Australia should be so very proud of you!!
  • AnnPaterson (AnnPaterson): #AnnaBligh is showing enormous composure and compassion. #qldfloods
  • phofmann (Patrick Hofmann): Queensland Premier #AnnaBligh is inspiring: compassion, composed, confident as she confronts the #qldfloods. PM Gillard, learn from her!
  • _Matt_D_ (Matt.D):  Anna Bligh here on SkyNews in the UK, she is doing such a great job. That lady is running a tight ship, in control! #qldfloods #annabligh
  • natjaku (natjaku): RT @meljaho: @natjaku #AnnaBligh is a friggin’ rockstar // never thought it wld happen but I completely agree!
  • Stacey_Lewis (Stacey Lewis): What a woman. #annabligh #qldfloods
  • simoninthesand (Simon Fuller): I have only hear Good things about how #AnnaBligh has handed the flood crisis, may be its time for #annablighforPM

Who knows if this will translate into anything permanent for Bligh as Premier but it is quite something to watch someone’s apparently very immovable public image flip directions so completely in the space of a couple of days.

And yay! for female heroes.

Categories: gender & feminism, media, parties and factions, work and family


5 replies

  1. she is openly pro-choice; has spent the bulk of her relationship to her partner unmarried to him; is a mother to two children and a successful politician;
    I’m sorry, but how is being unmarried, or having been in a defacto relationship, a feminist credential? Obviously it’s a great thing that unmarried-but-coupled women can hold office, but Anna Bligh’s relationship status should have no bearing on either her political capability or her feminist credential.
    Thinking that being unmarried or having been unmarried makes a woman a better feminist role model is merely a political inversion of the sort of right-wing thinking which holds up a married woman as a better role model.
    Likewise, the fact of having been raised by a single mother ought to be an interesting biographical fact, not in any way a credential.

  2. if you think staying unmarried is not at all relevant to feminism, you’re naive. The societal pressure to marry is a feminist issue.
    And I didn’t see the unmarried = better feminist/politician…
    As for Bligh, she’s fucking awesome. I am sick to death of snarky bullshit about Gillard’s appearance though. Can you imagine the uproar if she’d come in looking like Bligh, but without the work behind it? Hypocritical bullshit at it’s finest.

  3. I live in Brisbane about 2 blocks from the flood line, so I’ve been watching a lot of Anna’s press conferences. She has been very impressive – calm, compassionate, not appearing to be trying to hide information or exaggerate, very much on top of the details. The general impression is of a genuine and competent person. She has also been very quick to remind people focussed on Brisbane and Ipswich, that there are still many other areas that are still in great need and that they must receive the support they need.

  4. I’ve always maintained that Anna Bligh herself isn’t all that bad, but Peter Beattie was and got out at exactly the right time.
    Bligh has had to deal with all sorts of issues that were really rooted in the previous government and macro events (the GFC, Gordon Nuttall, corruption, why the Govt at the time flew Dr Patel out of the country). Beattie never faced the heat for those things and he should have.

  5. highlyeccentric – it is tough to make choices outside of traditional patriarchal roles for women. It doesn’t mean someone is a bad feminist for making choices consistent with those traditions (apart from anything, we all do that so who can point fingers) but when women make choices to lead parts of their lives in defiance of those traditions, and when their choices are known in the public sphere where they are subject to such potentially hostile and widespread criticism, and they risk their job by making those choices – that’s kinda feminist, don’t you think?
    Having said all that, Bligh eventually got married, and though she denied it, I wonder if it was to appease conservative voters as the timing was sorta suspicious. You’re right that women’s marital status shouldn’t be relevant to political office, but while it is I will be impressed by those who defy convention in the public sphere.
    Also, regarding the bit about being raised by a single mother – you’re right that it isn’t a credential; wrong word on my part – it is a feature, rather, that warms my feminist heart because single parent families are subject to so much media criticism and it is a very nice part of the story of a successful person when they happened to have got there while also overcoming difficulties and prejudices. And having been raised in a single parent family myself, let me tell you that there was a lot of prejudice against your family if your mother was a ‘welfare mother’.

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