Alex Massie

Growing up on Struggle-Street

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Tom Switzer knows much more about Australian politics than I ever will, so I commend his post on Kevin Rudd's downfall to you. (For an alternative take see John McTernan here.) What I would say, mind you, is that it's a bad idea for a Prime Minister to abandon his signature issue simply because the going gets a little bit tough. That's what Rudd did on climate change legislation* however and, frankly, even from a distance of many thousands of miles, one can see why his stock would struggle to recover from that debacle.

Anyway, let's talk about journalism and political terminology. Reading the accounts of Australia's latest political shenanigans one can't help but be impressed by the flinty prose used by the Aussie press. It has an old-fashioned feel to it and at times all the talk of faction and intra-state fighting has more than a whiff of the age of the Robber Barons about it. Then again, given that Rudd "went to war" with the mining industry perhaps that's appropriate too.

Also: the other day the Economist's Johnson argued for banning the cliched use of "hardscrabble" not least because these days it seems that almost anything and everything can be considered "hardscrabble". It was a good point. But what to replace it with? How about the splendid Ockerism "Struggle-street"?

I like struggle-street - see here for how it applies to Julia Gillard - not just because it's so evocative but also because it captures that element of mawkishness that is catnip to, but rarely acknowledged by, the newspapers. It is then both splendid and grim and consequently perfect and endlessly adaptable.

So, yes, let's abandon hardscrabble and adopt struggle-street instead.

*The rights and wrongs of Rudd's approach are not the issue and need not detain us.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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