Wendy Wedge has taken it upon herself to keep the Mad Monk Tony Abbott honest when using historical analogies.

Yet in his bid to position himself as some sort of bruiser intellectual he keeps making (well making up would be more accurate) historical analogies.

It’s as if he wants to become an Australian version of Alan Clark without of course (given the Monk’s legal case against the hapless Bob Ellis) the more interesting aspects of Clark’s social life.

Many of the analogies could end up in the next edition of Anders Henrickson’s best selling collection of student howlers, Non Campus (sic) Mentis.

Some time ago crikey picked up a fairly obviously false analogy the grossly defamatory claim that some Queensland unions operated the parliamentary system in Pelham-like style. Crikey was delighted to see that the Mad Monk has now revised the comparison and has moved on from Henry Pelham to his older brother the Duke of Newcastle.

It’s possible of course that the Mad Monk has confused the two but we assume he saw the errors of his way while wanting to keep making points about pocket boroughs even though the point about them was that often no-one at all got the right to vote. As far as it appears from close scrutiny of recent elections in Australia that is not quite the situation in any of the Federal and State electorates.

Neverthless, the confused explanation seems plausible in the light of his recent attempts to portray the Crean ALP-trade union link thoughts in the context of recent Soviet history.

In his first venture into the fray the Mad Monk compared Simon to Andropov and then later to Gorbachev somehow concluding that this illustrated his contention that the system was unreformable and that Crean was as ineffective as them.

As Andropov was like Putin ex-KGB that too is probably as defamatory as the comments about Pelham and the unions.

On the other hand Gorbachev could probably argue, if he could be bothered, that comparing him with any Australian politician was grossly defamatory of his reputation.

And on yet another hand one could begin to think of some historical analogies which help understand the Mad Monk.

For a start he’s part of that strange late 20th century phenomena a combination of big K conservative on social issues with libertarian economic views. They’re a bit like Steve Martin’s man with two brains – with Torquemada at war in their skulls with Adam Smith.

In the Mad Monk’s case, of course, some might argue that he has little of Torquemada’s sensitivity and none of Smith’s trenchant intellectual rigour about market failures.

He’s also like one of those British Restoration figures who imagines that the return of the Stuarts will result in a lasting crack down on the dissidents, reinstatement of all the old traditions and a future in which the monarchists rule forever.

In this context crikey likes to think of itself as one of the chroniclers of that Restoration illusion just like the famous diarist, Roger Morrice, in his Entring Book a parliamentary diary in which each edition was addressed to a “sole subscriber”. He also, according to the Cambridge historian Mark Goldie, “relied rather little on newspapers and generally avoided repeating what could be found in print”.

Now Morrice wasn’t as much fun as the other great 17th diarists, Pepys and Evelyn.

After all science, art and rogering whores (Alan Clark turn in your grave) on Westminster Bridge and just about everywhere else in proximity to Whitehall is a bit more riveting than parliamentary debates, military stuff (Alan Clark’s other great love of course) and predictions that the Restoration wouldn’t last.

So, crikey plans to continue to be an Entring Book for the Mad Monk’s hysterical (sorry historical) analogies.

Who knows, the Mad Monk might even get one approximately right?

In the meantime we can just bemoan the fact that the standards of historical literacy in Canberra are so slight that they let him get away with it.

And perhaps wish that Alan Clark was still around.

After all he may have agreed with some of the Mad Monk’s political views but would quickly have had the Abbott card marked as a dreadful oick.

Feedback direct to Wendy at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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