This is the third of a new weekly column I am writing for the Reaction.Life website. It's published each Friday on Reaction

rudd gillard

The Killing Season, ABC News

It’s rare that you could describe a political documentary as ‘gripping’ but given this documentary is all about the relationship between former Australian Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, it would have been difficult for an documentary producer to produce something limp.

Made in 2015, shortly after the denouement of the Labor Government – at least in part due to the total breakdown in leadership at the top of the Labor Party – I only aome across it due to a recommendation from a listener to my ‘For the Many podcast’. It’s not on Netflix or Amazon Prime and you can only access it via the ABC News website, but I still managed to watch it on my TV via its web browser. And boy was it worth it.

There’s something deeply primeval about Aussie politics. It comes from the gut. Australian politicians loathe each other in a way you just don’t find in this country – well, at least not before the age of Corbyn. They’re not afraid of expressing their hate, either.

Time has done nothing to heal the political rift between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, who at one time were the closest of political allies. And this documentary lays bare the reasons for their falling out. Rudd comes across as a deeply shifty arch-manipulator of the truth with scant regard for any form of self-knowledge. He built his reputation on being able to emulate Tony Blair, as a man in touch with the people and with huge amounts of empathy. It was a charade. He shed tears apologising to Aboriginal people, but it was surface deep. His narcissism knew no bounds and after a very short time he lost his political touch without realising it.

His deputy, Julia Gillard, lost no time in striking and told him he had to go. Labor MPs agreed and she took over the Premiership in a palace coup. Rudd didn’t go quietly and was a constant thorn in her side thereafter. She then made a big mistake and appointed him Foreign Minister after barely winning an election. It was all downhill from there. He eventually got his revenge and toppled her, going to on to lose an election to the Liberal leader Tony Abbott.

Both Rudd and Gillard gave extensive interviews for this brilliantly made three part documentary, fronted by Sarah Ferguson (no, not that one). Neither held back in their views of the other. The best moment was a quote from Gillard about Rudd’s way of operating: “I had never seen such a level of bastardry”. Only in Australia…

Seek out this documentary here: I promise you won’t regret it.

chrissue jackson

BBC Radio Norfolk – Mid-morning with Chrissie Jackson

“After One o’clock it’s your favourite smell…and Norfolk Numbers” was the first sentence I heard when I tuned in for the last hour of Chrissie Jackson’s popular Radio Norfolk show yesterday. Aha! Only on BBC local radio... At least it’s better than a phone-in on the subject of what’s your favourite biscuit, which used to be the staple of any local radio station? Garibaldis, since you ask. As an aside, when Eamonn Holmes took over the drivetime radio show on talkRadio, one of his first phone-ins was on the subject of your favourite colour of wine gum… I kid you not. It was like being transported back to 1978.

Chrissie Jackson sounds as if she’s in her twenties, but she’s actually a grandmother. She’s been a staple of Norfolk radio for decades, starting out on the much missed Radio Broadland in 1986, where she ended up presenting an award winning breakfast show with the fantastic Rob Chandler until they were replaced in 2013, by which time the station had been swallowed up into the Heart network. Jackson has been presenting the mid-morning show on Radio Norfolk ever since. It’s part magazine, part phone-in and is one of the better local radio offerings, despite the fact it contains far too much music content. The music was so bland I thought it was inevitable that George Michael’s Careless Whisper would surely be next on the playlist. And then, bugger me, it was! It’s like tuning into Magic and knowing that you will almost certainly be treated to the dulcet tones of the Captain and Tenile’s ‘Do that to me one more time’. Surely the whole point of local radio is that it should just that – local. Playlists should be banned, with local voices becoming the hit records. The Coronavirus crisis should have seen to that, but seemingly not. Overall though, Chrissie Jackson is a great, comfortable listen. She knows her audience, and they have stayed loyal to her.

By the way, in the Norfolk Numbers feature, we learned that 85% of us love the smell of…. Well guess. Answer at the bottom of the page!


Politics of SOund

Politics of Sound podcast

There are a lot of Desert Island Discs spinoff podcasts around, many of them of variable quality. The Politics of Sound has a simple format and it’s all the better for it. Ian Carnegie is the host and he asks his guest to pick their three favourite albums of all time, which then become a hook to do an hour long interview about their lives, experiences and views. It’s another example of the growing popularity of the long form interview. He really researches his subjects and often gets some quite juicy detail out of them. It’s always fascinating to examine someone else’s record shelf, and the three albums chosen by his subjects are very revealing. Carnegie doesn’t allow any repeats. When I went on it I wanted to choose ‘Bat out of Hell’ as one of my three albums, but John Whittingdale had already beaten me to it. Jacqui Smith wanted Blondie’s Parallel Lines, but I had got there first when I was a guest on the podcast last year. This month’s interviewee is former BBC political correspondent Carole Walker. Carnegie really gets some nuggets out of someone who has been trained not to offer an opinion. And who’d have thought one of her chosen albums would be ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ by the Sex Pistols?

Answer to the smell question: The sea!

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