Gillard mocked over ‘cynical’ photoshoot
Critics lash feisty feminist and republican for pics of her knitting cuddly 'roo' for royal baby
AUSTRALIA'S first female prime minister Julia Gillard – an avowed feminist and republican – has attracted ridicule by posing for a photo-shoot in which she is knitting a toy kangaroo for the imminent British royal baby..
Gillard said she was trying to portray a "different" side of herself to the electorate by posing for the pictures in Australian Women's Weekly. The Welsh-born PM is struggling in the polls and is tipped to lose in a landslide when Australians go to the polls in September.
The Australian points out that previous pictures of Gillard run in the mass-circulation magazine have presented a "far less domestic image" and featured "tailored suits and corporate style".
Unfortunately, the photo-shoot depicting the PM in an armchair, surrounded by balls of wool and with her dog Reuben at her feet, does not appear to have done her any favours. If the effect was designed to be "homely", it has been described by critics – and even some friends – as "cynical", "insulting", "manipulative" and "contrived".
Andrew Bolt, a columnist for Melbourne's Herald Sun, said the image "perfectly illustrates not just that Julia Gillard is obsessed with spin, but is so bad at it that everything screams "fake!". Christopher Pyne, a senior member of the opposition, said: "We know the prime minister is good at spinning a yarn, now we have a picture to prove it."
The pictures were reportedly the idea of Gillard's chief press officer John McTernan, a former adviser to Tony Blair. The PM went along with the shoot, but remarked "this feels slightly absurd" as the camera was clicking.
It seems she might have been better off trusting her instincts. Even her supporters are finding it hard to resolve her politics with the cosy images.
In an interview accompanying the pictures, Gillard insisted that knitting the kangaroo for the royal baby did not "clash with her views that Australia should become a republic". She acknowledged that she had campaigned for Australia to sever its links with the UK when a referendum was held on the issue and insisted: "We will get there again."
She went on: "There is a real sense of respect for the Queen, so I do think a natural moment to look again will be when her reign comes to an end." ·