This article emphasises the role that political leaders’ discourse plays in evoking positive emotions among citizens in uncertain times, such as feeling protected, secure and proud in addition to the leaders’ (often interconnected) role of encouraging negative feelings such as fear, resentment and anger. The article argues that such discourse frequently involves performances of gendered leadership. It cites examples from a range of countries to illustrate the points being made, but focuses on the 2020 US presidential election which saw a contest between two forms of protective masculinity: Trump’s exclusionary, macho, hypermasculinity versus Biden’s more socially inclusive, empathetic and softer version. Trump’s protective masculinity failure over managing the COVID-19 pandemic was arguably one of the factors contributing to his electoral defeat, while Biden aimed to make voters feel safer and more protected than under Trump. The article also provides examples of protective femininity, with a particular focus on the discourse of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.
This chapter looks at the attempts of the Australian Rudd and Gillard governments to tackle some of the issues that social democracy has faced in regard to managing capitalist economies and mitigating diverse forms of inequality. The experience of the Rudd and Gillard governments illustrates that such longer-term problems and dilemmas about how to manage a capitalist economy are not abstract ones. Indeed, they were one of the factors that contributed to the leadership instability that plagued Labor during the Rudd and Gillard years. Admittedly, other factors that contributed to that leadership included party rules that made it relatively easy to remove a Labor prime minister, sometimes legitimate concerns about both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard’s performance, by negative poll results and the relentless campaigning of an often hostile media.
Accounts of British Labour’s ‘third way’ tend to leave out an important antecedent for Blair’s ‘new’ politics – the Australian Labor governments of 1983–96. In this article, we argue that labour governments in Australia and Britain have pursued similar strategies for melding neoliberalism with social democracy. Key failures of Australian Labor are instructive for thinking about the future of the New Labour project, while the progressive features of Labor politics in Australia offer a challenge to Third Way social conservatism. Most critically, the Australian experience indicates how parties of the right can regroup in the face of new-style labour governments.