Imagine if last year Jeremy Corbyn had won the general election with a small majority, his government had ground to a halt with the Lords rejecting legislation and then the Queen just sacked him.
That, very roughly, is what happened 45 years ago to Gough Whitlam’s Australian government. Save the Whitlam was a much more charismatic and successful politician than Corbyn, and the sacking was done by the Queen’s Governor-General rather than herself. But you get a sense of the scale of such a political crisis.
To mark its anniversary, the Australian broadcaster ABC has an excellent podcast series, The Eleventh, named after the date (November 11, 1975) on which Whitlam was ousted. It is about more than just the Australian political crisis, for it is also a story of scandal, money, sexism, foreign wars, political brilliance and political incompetence that is familiar across countries and across decades.
Here’s a short recap of the amazing story from ABC, including Gough Whitlam’s famous comments on the steps of Parliament House after being sacked:
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