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Are conservatives irrelevant in the 21st century?

Are conservatives irrelevant in the 21st century? Jennifer Wilson reports.

The extraordinary Queensland election result saw former LNP Premier Campbell Newman lose his seat, and the ALP chuck an unprecedented Lazarus and rise, as gobsmacked as was anybody looking on, from its cold political grave. Newman’s government lasted just one term, after the largest win in political history by his party left the Queensland ALP with just seven seats. Now the voters have seriously turned. You could not make this stuff up.

In November, Victorians threw out their LNP government, also after only one term, and returned the ALP to power.

In NSW we have an election in March, and LNP Premier Mike Baird is likely apprehensive.

It’s early days, but what seems apparent at first blush is that increasingly, Australians don’t care for the conservative method of governance. In general, we don’t take to entitled, privileged bullies fattening themselves and their besties at the taxpayer trough while simultaneously stripping us of public assets, and grinding into the dirt those who can least afford any further grinding. Unrestrained self-interest does not go down well with the Australian public, it would seem.

Neither do we take to blatant liars in our governments, nor to arrogant, dismissive leaders who think power means they never have to explain, and account for their actions.

As all of the above traits are endemic in the current conservative personality, and as the voters aren’t willing to tolerate them for longer than one term, the LNP state and federal may well be looking at some time in the wilderness of opposition, having had a brief and turbulent taste of their utter lack of relevance to 21st century Australians.

The ALP ought not to become over-confident. All too often the party has shown an alarming tendency to go along with what are essentially conservative ideas, to the point where many of us have fallen prey to a chronic despair that has expressed itself in the phrase “There’s no bloody difference between the two major parties.” There’d better be a bloody difference, and if ALP politicians state and federal have any sense, they will be taking a good look at resurrecting the party’s core values, and listening hard to what voters are telling them.

Increasingly, voters appear to be willing to give governments only one chance. ‘Til very recently, our attitude was to give them a second go in a second term. We seem to be on the cusp of a significant change in that attitude. This may well have to do with retribution. If our major parties don’t give so many of us a fair go, why the bloody hell should we extend that generosity to them?

For mine, it would be a great advancement if politicians were as a first principle capable of remembering their job is to serve the people, and not the other way round. I don’t know how many arses need to get hit by the door on the way out before they grasp that fundamental article of their job description.

This article was first published on No Place For Sheep.

 

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  1. Loz

    I agree with your comments Jennifer. I think the electorate is becoming more aware of the divide between rich and poor in this country. The catalyst I feel was the last shock horror budget when Joe Hockey decided that the poor and the vulnerable should fall on their swords to further enrich the wealthy. We are also aware now (due to good reporting on this and other on line media) that austerity does not work as can be seen in Greece, Spain etc.

  2. John Fraser

    <

    The Liberal party is a bucket of piss.

    And each and every one of Abbotts gang have had a piss in it.

    And now the MSM thinks Turnbull is going to pick it up and raise it above his head as Leader.

    Wrong ! ……… Turnbull is far too busy throwing verbal diarrhea over his own Fraudband.

    And forget Bishop the younger, there no way on gods earth that she's going to pick up the bucket of piss and get it over her Balenciaga.

    Mal "Ashby" Brough …….. ha ha ha ….. if anyone deserves the bucket of piss poured over him then there's your candidate.

    Outside of Canberra the movers and shakers are getting ready to kick the bucket over and force an election.

    And Australians are ready for it.

    A drovers dog could win it ….. and it only needs to be red.

  3. stephentardrew

    Time for the dinosaurs to become extinct.

    A death by a thousand stupidities.

    Surprise, surprise Australians don’t want an elitist oligarchy.

    Well dear brethren time for the MSM to do some naval gazing.

    They have been dragged screaming into the world of reality.

    They just don’t realize how absolutely incompetent they look.

  4. CMMC

    The ‘rugged individualist’ aspect of Conservatism, that which Abbott aspires to, just doesn’t fit in an era where technology is relentlessly democratic.

    I don’t just mean the internet, people can produce their own solar electricity, become a casual taxi driver, and God knows what clever things we will soon be doing with drones.

    Conservative = Sociopath, is what they are projecting and thats what people are seeing.

  5. Mike

    Yep CMMC anyone who literally froths & splurts out the mouth in a ferocious distempered manner through question time can only be perceived as being sociopathic, bordering? a psychotic disorder

  6. Ross

    Was it only 18 months ago that the conservative star shone so brightly?

    Right wing governments everywhere, worldwide austerity the mantra and debt the evil that must be destroyed.

    Banks and bankers the saviour, who shall be repaid immediately, whatever the cost to society.

    And now? The star that shone so bright only served to illuminate the hollow lying nastiness and show conclusively that conservative governments couldn’t run a toy train set.

    Their mantra, lie, destroy the welfare state, government bad, private good, privatise the profits and socialise the losses, the 1% shall own everything, the working person shall be paid a pittance and have no rights has been held to the harsh light of reality and been found wanting.

    The public, quite sensibly, want politicians to rule for the public good, they like the welfare state, they like governments to provide their services, they have seen firsthand that privatising public assets has no benefit to the public whatsoever, they want to be adequately compensated for working out of hours and on weekends and for that matter paid a living wage that funnily enough does not require being in debt to banks to survive, and they most definitely don’t like being lied to.

    (This is only my opinion, but bankers should issue a formal apology for their insatiable greed before committing public ritual suicide. The spectacle should be witnessed by humiliated, quivering and repentant LNP politicians dressed in sackcloth and ashes before being ejected from the city by the enraged masses.)

    Who would have thought that bright conservative star would go supernova in just 18 months.

    Note: – Supernova, a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness because of a catastrophic explosion that ejects most of its mass.

  7. diannaart

    Well said, Jennifer

    Finally the blinkers are coming off as more Australians begin to see that a vote for the LNP is vote against their own well-being.

    Labor had better be paying attention – two one-term governments have been voted out, if Labor thinks to remain a pale imitation of neo-conversative ideologue – it has better have another long rethink.

    There is room for conservatism – prudence, careful planning, deep consideration and care. Not its perverted mutation. Time to embrace progress – progress for all and not just the self-entitled.

  8. halsaul

    So many excellent comments and good points made. diannaart probably summed it up for me with the phrase.” Progress for all and not just the self-entitled”. Instead of destroying the “social wage” for all, as the libs have been trying to do. Access to an education at reasonable cost – and if you’re smart enough, a University Education. Society will reap the rewards of this into the future. Medicare – the crowning glory in our society. We don’t leave the old to die, sick & unwanted in their homes or on the street. A helping hand if you are disabled. Technology for the future – NBN FTTH – fibre is essential in todays International Market & Labor was going to ensure all citizens could afford and get access. Not good enough Abbott, by about a million miles.

  9. RoaminRuin

    Conservatives are called conservatives because they don’t like change. They don’t like change because they and their conservative mates are in privileged positions and they want to keep it that way. They want all of the
    goodies for themselves and they want the power to ensure they can make that happen.

    The more privileged they are the more venal they are, and the more they will stoop to the nasty behaviours that entrench their own interests. The Federal and Qld Lib’s and the US Republicans and the Tea Party are perfect examples.

    Ironically, their influence waned as they became more successful. The gap between rich and poor has been widening in Australia and certainly in the US. More and more wealth is being accumulated by the top 1%. That’s pissing off more and more people – the other 99%, including those who are the moderate conservatives who see themselves as now missing out.

    And, the pace of change is always accelerating, and the old conservative dinosaurs can’t keep up. The internet is a gift to democracy and the old school elite do not like it. Woohoo!

  10. stephentardrew

    Simple.

    Bakers and financial sector produce great recession in 2008.

    Banks saved by quantitative easing while middle class, low income workers, the poor and disabled pay for their greed.

    Media complicit in promoting increased poverty and inequality to satiate their corporate Gods.

    Solution?

    Austerity and destruction of the social safety net while raking in record profits.

    The 1% are on notice they have gone too far.

    Now they are shitting themselves while their global oligarchic dream turns to crap.

    They are starting to realize we are not the dumb sheeple they hoped for.

    Greece, now Spain. Europe is on the move.

    How dumb do they think we are?

    Well that’s self evident.

  11. Phil Buckley

    The debt that the consevatives wish to leave our children is one of a substandard education, poor healthcare and a wage they cannot live on . There are debts other than montary ones.

  12. Graham Houghton

    Dumb enough to elect them into power in the first place (not by me).

  13. mars08

    All I see is that financial self-interest (and maybe a dislike of corruption) has caused the majority of Queensland voters to reject the LNP.

    The conservative approach to finances does not sit well with the electorate.

    That said… this is not a great spiritual renaissance, a dawn of a compassionate age. Social conservatism is still firmly entrenched. The era of “i’m alright jack” is still with us.

  14. corvus boreus

    diannaart,
    Love your words.
    There is virtue in having an element of true definitional conservatism in ones attitude, it is the rational voice of ‘enough is enough’.
    Some of the twits who call themselves ‘conservative’ espouse and enact things like the mass repeal of thousands of items of precautionary regulations, representing the accumulated legislative wisdom of over a century of our historical forefathers, in crazy bonfire stunts, or eschew scientific (and economic) precaution over everything from project approval to global climate.
    That is not, by meaning, “conservative”, it is radical.

  15. stephentardrew

    Mars08

    But to dream and fantasize just for one day.

  16. mars08

    @stephentardrew… my apologies. Go ahead…

  17. diannaart

    CB

    Compliments back atcha.

    Now I am off to have a rest – spent most of last night watching ABC 24 – am paying for it now.

  18. Roddy

    Hitler said: “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.” This fascist mob have not been smart enough to do this, they have been too quick and too blatant in taking away people’s freedoms, and even the generally gullible Australian public have picked up on it. Now they are paying the price.

  19. paul walter

    The sad thing is, there are informed rational, small c conservatives and small l liberals, but these have been so marginalised as to silence any sense of caution, rationality and (true) realism within our now blindly reactionary and opportunist political formations. Just read an article by Dick Smith, for example, that could have written by a lefty. He, in effect calls for a form of reregulation- but the question everyone asks is why much of deregulation was imposed without adequate thought in the first place. Only the IPA nutters wanted that.

    And I suppose, the IPA only wanted these things rushed through, so that people wouldnt have time to consider the implications’of “reform”(ultimate oxymoron), which would have suited Murdoch and the other Crony Capitalists behind it all, here and offshore, down to the ground.

  20. Möbius Ecko

    Pyne – “I think the PM has an excellent political antennae.”

    With thoughts like that they are their own joke but don’t know it.

  21. Wally

    I agree with your article Jennifer but you missed a very important and probably the major flaw of the LNP’s ideals. In their quest to make the rich richer and the poor poorer the conservatives overlook the basic fundamentals on capitalism. When people do not have money to spend in particular on non essential items the economy suffers and tax revenue is reduced so everybody suffers. Take away penalty rates and you deny families of any spontaneous spending because in the economic climate created by the Howard government both parents need to work to exist, there simply isn’t much spare cash in household budgets. If it wasn’t for the over 40’s who have paid off the house and finished educating the kids our economy would be buggered. Harvey Normans solution is to provide interest free loans without any consideration to the added costs when the items are not paid off within the interest free term, you can only borrow what you can afford to repay and then you must stop spending until debt is repaid or your income increases. In these days of low interest rates and low inflation increases in household income are minimal so the percentage of household income consumed to pay the mortgage is not reducing quickly like it did in the 1980’s and 1990’s. To further complicate things the banks add finance for cars, holidays and luxury items onto the mortgage without substantially increasing the monthly payments to minimise the interest paid. If you purchased a $30k car on finance over 4 years you would need to pay about $800 a month and the interest would be about $8000. Increase the mortgage by $30k with monthly payments increased by $300 and the car takes about 8 years to pay for the car and another 5 years to pay off about $25000 interest. The financial sector is making record profits by selling products that generate massive amounts of interest and unless people wake up and realise they are getting ripped off they will never pay off their mortgage.

  22. PopsieJ

    The mark of a civilised nation is how it looks after It’s elderly,’ sick and educates it’s young, on each and every count the LNP fails. Nothing more needs to be said

  23. Roddy

    And animals, and the environment. And again, dismal failure.

  24. Karen

    100 percent agree with this article, if you are going in to govern in Australia then take a long hard look at what the people of Australia are expecting of their government and that is at all levels of government

  25. Anomander

    @ME – I agreed with Pyne – “I think the PM has an excellent political antennae.”

    The Libs and their supporters are all crawling bugs to me and Abbott is the chief cockroach – stupidly scuttling around telling lies and spreading his sick ideas – and about to feel the slipper of public wrath descend on him.

  26. Damo451

    Diannaart Excellent post ,well thought out and right on the money.
    Stephentardrew
    Not sure why you think bakers were responsible for the GFC ,but i can assure you my local hot bread bakerys struggled along with the rest of us 😉

  27. stephentardrew

    Ah those damn wordy things Damo451.

  28. corvus boreus

    Bakers did, however, likely cause the GLF (Great London Fire, 1666).

  29. alpheuswilliams

    Now if we can just get rid of the Murdoch Media and Shock Jocks that convince people to vote for this lot in the first place. Sheeshhhh….talk about Rupert, Allen, Ray and the Tyranny of Misinformation and Downright Lies…

  30. Damo451

    Corvus ,now if you had said the bakers caused the GFL , then i could spin it and agree they were totally responsible for the Gluten Free Loaf.
    A report today says Abbott is determined to hang on to the leadership and i hope he does.
    After all Tones ,a good captain always goes down with his ship.
    The only other option is to forcibly remove him ,which would make Gillards problems with Rudd , look like a cakewalk.
    Abbott would destroy the Liberal party for decades to come , with his own special brand of scorched earth policy.
    When Attorney-General , Dr Bunsen Honeydew was asked about a leadership change today, he said there is no appetite for a leadership change.
    Given that the damage to Australia will be substantial ,but at the moment we dont have the option to remove them , i plan to buy a truck load of marshmallows and toast them over what will be a rather large LNP bonfire and enjoy watching them as they run around like the proverbial headless chook ,not knowing which way to turn.
    Aint Karma a bitch LOL

  31. stephentardrew

    Those ungrateful swill think they live in a democracy.
    It’s the bloody unions, an an bikies, an an the miserable courts, an an the big powerful GetUp an an the greed of the poor and marginalized who want jobs and will not be satisfied with mud huts and starvation even though they have walls.
    They don’t know it they just needed strong leaders with strong muscles, and strong coal, and strong fracking, and well, just plain strong, strength of big strong, strong uh ME.
    They just do not realize we are their betters.
    His Holy Ruppiness will be pissed off cause no one is reading his rags and we fell short.
    A fate worse than kissing his holiness’ arse.
    It was those weak, feeble unionists, lefties, progressives and bikies voting for the other mob.
    We need new gun laws and a damn good culling of the bloody do-gooders.
    Anyway I am dead and gone and it’s all your fault..

  32. stephentardrew

    Jeeze guys the baker thing is getting out of hand.
    It’s pulling me down.
    I’ll be in for the marshmallows though just gimme a time and date.
    Can I kook me an LNP MP as well?

  33. Damo451

    Not to be one to harp on touch typing spelling mistakes ,but you did mean to type good fracking didn’t you stephentardrew
    I mean to see its only two letters and ………
    As for the time and date ,well i guess its from now until we run out of LNP MPs to burn

  34. Damo451

    Say ,Say, not SEE ,it must be bloody contagious……or Karma 😉

  35. corvus boreus

    Yews shod ewes spill-chuck four yore spilling.

  36. stephentardrew

    Damo451: Gotta touch of dyslexia. Rereading a dozen times I don’t see the mistakes. Don’t mind the corrections though. Just thought I would let you know.

    It’s all strong. Don’t you listen to Campbell?

    I SEE you do understand.

  37. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    As Rabid and his LNP Degenerates realise they are in their death throes, I will also enjoy watching the enablers of those scumbag pollies scuttle for cover.

    I’m thinking about the blatant propagandists in the MSM. I’m thinking about the ‘traitors’ in the ABC. I’m thinking about cynical bureaucrats, who dwell in the shadows but whose roles are to advise on planning and implementing austerity policies.

    I’m also thinking about the scores of alleged experts on advisory committees that rehash the same ground over and over again, which only benefits their pockets and makes the government look like it’s doing something when it’s not.

    I’ll enjoy seeing you all feel the heat of our Australian people’s wrath.

  38. mars08

    stephentardrew:

    It’s the bloody unions, an an bikies, an an the miserable courts, an an the big powerful GetUp an an the greed of the poor and marginalized who want jobs…

    So…. it seems that you’re quite confident that an ALP government will have the means and inclination to reverse ALL of Campbell Newman’s excess and injustice. I’m not holding my breath…

  39. Damo451

    stephentardrew ,it was a bit of tongue in cheek ,a strong fracking for the public or a good strong F#%cking for the public

  40. Frosty

    “We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace – business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism,sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that government by organised money is just as dangerous as government by organised mob.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    Substitute Australia for the US, and IPA/BCA/Murdoch/Rinehart/mining/banking for organised money and it reads just as appropriately.

  41. Harquebus

    All governments that make promises that do not factor the diminishing resources of our finite planet will fail in keeping those promises.

  42. mars08

    “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
    ~Noam Chomsky

  43. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    @Harquebus @ 9.31 pm

    Fair enough. Make your point to the closest representative link you have in government and ofcourse advocate on this site and every other media and social media opportunity you have.

    Please however, don’t paint it in the picture of ‘beyond the chance to make an effective difference’ coz that only plays against our collective psyche to keep fighting the good fight.

  44. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    Please can we generate some compassionate, caring, socially inclusive policies that enable those who genuinely need help to get it while making sure that those with above average wealth pay their fair share in tax.

  45. Alan Smith

    I’m afraid I have to disagree with this premise.

    Looking at Australian politics over the last decade makes it obvious that Australians, inasmuch as any large population can be generalised, are in general very conservative. Again generalising, it’s hard not to see the “average Aussie” as more aspirational, materialistic and practical than her/his European or Asian counterpart. Don’t forget Australians kept the Howard government in for over a decade despite the introduction of GST, the high levels of corruption in the Howard cabinet and the elitist policies. They then threw out a highly competent ALP government and endorsed an LNP policy that one did not need to be a genius to see was heavily slated towards looking after the big end of town (Cut the carbon tax, massive handouts to rich people having kids, destroying public health and welfare) and, up here in Queensland, elected Campbell Newman who had already shown his colours in local government.

    Even ALP governments that we have elected in recent years have been “moderate conservative” rather than genuinely progressive. One didn’t see any genuine effort to deal with the tax evasion/breaks by multinationals or any kind of push towards redistribution of wealth under Rudd or Gillard (or, up here, under Bligh.)

    As I see it, today we are reaping the harvest of the eighties. The federal ALP governments under Hawke, then Keating, moved progressively towards the right, with such platforms as bank deregulation, and the conservative coalition was forced to respond by moving their own ideology from what could be vaguely described as “Semi-extreme Conservative” to “Absolute Conservative” – that this move was successful was aided by the extreme right wing press and media in Australia, and the average Australian’s tendency to take what the media tell them as gospel, and (in some quarters) a vague, ultra-simplified homophobia and xenophobia that enabled them to swallow the new conservatism whole.

    Politics in Australia seems to have followed a predictable cycle since. An ALP government takes the reigns, the people become somewhat better off, but genuine reform is slow and hedged by economic constraints. Then, a point is reached where people become dissatisfied and the press/media capitalise on the situation by brainwashing the swinging voters into voting them out (and, often, the ALP manage to self-destruct as well.). A conservative government is then elected, who proceed to take orders from big business and rich media magnates who order them to undo any social progress made under the past government, and then take it further by further eroding any rights or privileges that ordinary people might still have. Finally, after a succession of these, the government goes one vital step too far (Work choices for Howard. Privatisation by Newman. Knighting a member of British royalty for Abbott) and the camel, its back broken by this final straw, stops listening. An ALP government is then elected, and the cycle begins anew…

    No, conservatives are not irrelevant in Australia, and never will be until the Australian electorate starts thinking deeply about how they vote, rather than relying on soundbites, headlines in the Murdoch press and patronising and easily penetrated lies by those on the extreme right. What we’re seeing right now is simply one stage in the pendulum swing…

  46. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    To Rosemary,

    good on you for caring about the needs of the general community. I fully agree that whoever is in control, needs to be protective of the needs of the most vulnerable whether they are welfare recipients, pensioners, disabled people or asylum seekers, and not forgetting our beautiful Mother Earth.

  47. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Alan Smith,

    most of us have lived through the ’80s. I remember Hawke/Keating’s re-introduction of University Fees. Ugly policy. Not proud of it. Birth of HECs.

    Nonetheless, if we want varied government, we need to support the emergence of minor parties – Left, Centre and Right.

    We also need to respect the voices of Independents and activist community groups.

  48. gangey1959

    I think we are all mostly anyway in agreement.
    @stephentardrew. Burn as many as you can catch, but don’t bother to cook them, they taste like shit. Something to do with stewing in their own juice or some such…

  49. Andreas Bimba

    I fear that Tony Abbott is mean enough, desperate enough and mad enough to play the Maggie Thatcher Falklands War card in the hope of being saved by mindless patriotism. I would therefore strongly suggest to any potential enemies of Australia to smile a lot, go play with the kids, fly lots of Aussie flags and basically be very nice for the next two years.

  50. June

    I’m inclined to agree with Alan Smith insofar as Australian politics – both sides – tend towards conservatism in one form or another. I spoke with a woman from Brisbane. She was mortified LNP lost – she normally votes labor. Her reason? LNP reduced crime with the bikie laws. A cafe manager in Sydney today bemoaned the roasting Abbott is copping in the press – “give the man a break”. I confess I don’t understand these myopic views. I just don’t get it. How do we convince/educate liberal and swinging voters that good governance isn’t measured by a surplus budget?

    I think Jennifer Wilson nails it though. Policies based on an ideology that represses the vast majority of the population in favour of the minority has no place, anywhere, in modern society. The political divide has narrowed and labor is the worse for it. I just hope ALP gets its act together. In the meantime, I’m talking to anyone who will listen.

  51. diannaart

    I understand your frustration, June. Why do otherwise intelligent people not see the grasping for power that underlies contemporary conservatism. Earlier I wrote about what conservatism used to mean. I would love to ask those who support today’s neo-conservatism; why, if they believe in low taxes and limited services just what do they think governments are for? A CEO could do what they have been elected to do and maybe with more accountability if running a country was just about money and nothing else..

  52. mars08

    I suspect that this years ANZAC day events will be used as an opportunity to relaunch the failed “Team Australia” project. After all… it’s what those thousands of young soldiers died for….

  53. stephentardrew

    Hey Damo451 I fink I am a bit fik.

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