McCulloch’s political style
The dog that did not bark.
The 1860s in Victoria is characterised by two tendencies:
1. The rise of street politics
2. The rise of political pressure groups that mobilised the common man or were even formed by men of moderate education and means.
In short, participatory, extra-parliamentary politics seized the public attention. Warring factions vied with each other for the boast that they could turn out the common man in their favour.
Leading political figures, especially among the liberals and radicals who supported McCulloch, were active instigators and orators at these grand occasions.
Yet, conspicuously absent from any and all of these events was James McCulloch himself.
McCulloch was certainly prepared for and adept at the stump speech and more formal constituency meeting that served as the primary means of politicking in the 1860s. Indeed, the newspapers of the day report dozens of these meetings. And McCulloch’s meeting with his constituents in Mornington in 1871 must be regarded as one of the bravura performances of a colonial politician. As we shall see this speech had an enormous effect on Victorian and Australian cultural identity and identity politics far beyond the expectations and desires of McCulloch. (Larrikins)
Thus, it will become clear, McCulloch did not avoid political demonstrations because he shied away from public occasions. Rather, he and perhaps his allies, had other motives.
We need to consider this when we study how McCulloch came to utterly dominate democratic politics in Victoria for a decade.
For whatever were the plans, they worked.