Gillard’s personal decision UN vote! · 3 December 2012

Paul Kelly wrote (1 December, The Australian) that Julia Gillard’s insistence that Australia vote against UN recognition of Palestine’s non-member state observer status was a stark demonstration of her will to dominate and tenacious determination to impose her authority. He writes that we are now witnessing a psycho-political drama.

Kelly is right, but there may be more to it than he suggests!

Troy Bramston wrote (29 November, The Australian) that few can understand why she so trenchantly held the view that it must be a no vote. She was so fixated on no that she was all at sea in understanding the opposition to her own decision.

Dennis Shanahan and David Crowe reported (28 November, The Australian) a “very, very tense 12 hours is which Gillard came perilously close to losing the leadership” before she capitulated.

So, why was she so determined?

My view is that while Gillard wants to dominate those around her (as Kelly notes), she also desperately wants the approval of other authority figures. Who these other figures are, we can only guess. (Clearly, her late-father was one of these.)

I suspect that Gillard gave personal assurances to various figures (maybe Barrack Obama and/or senior members of the Australian Jewish community) about how Australia would vote. These assurances were essentially based on her psychological need for approval rather than on any serious consideration of what was good policy.

Contrary to what Peter Hartcher wrote (1 December, The Sydney Morning Herald), Gillard is not full of confidence and self-belief. Her displays are features of both conscious acting (with no children to distract her she has, over the years as a totally focused political performer, perfected the art) and unconscious cognitive dissonance and in the particular case of the UN vote, she was all at sea as she tried to avoid coming to grips with the disparity between party room facts and her notions and commitments about a “no” vote.

For more about Gillard’s basic psychology, read Julia Gillard: psychological profile shown in the left-side column on this page. (