Like many, I was puzzled by the transformation in Gillard’s public persona post-2010.
The warmth, humour and sparkle she’d often displayed in parliament and elsewhere vanished. What remained was wooden, distant, usually dull and often irritating.
Judith Brett recently made some comments, almost in passing, that might just explain why.
Her projected image as prime minister was of someone who was assured, confident and tough. It was as if she had decided that this was how to be the strong leader the system demanded.
Brett suggests this assumed persona “sat awkwardly with her renowned skills in negotiation and the personal warmth reported by all who worked with her. The resulting public image was confusing, making it hard for people to build a coherent sense of her as a person, to feel they knew who she was. So some decided she was a fraud, others turned off, and a minority gave her the benefit of the doubt”.
Perhaps it wasn’t even conscious. At some level, she may have felt the need to submerge all playfulness, rein in her spontaneity and maintain a rigid control. If so, it was a grievous error, both politically and personally.
For a reminder of the pre-Julia (and of what parliament could be like in more civil days), consider this video from November 2009.