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Does conservatism have a future now that liberalism is down for the count?

The first thing I asked myself before commencing this piece was, does conservatism have a future? By conservatism, in this instance, I refer to the philosophy practised by the LNP over the last decade or so.

l have deliberately jumped over the Liberal Party, assuming in my thinking that Scott Morrison and others are responsible for its destruction. Or perhaps its murder might be blunter. If one were writing a political thriller, the three suspects would be Howard, Abbott and Morrison.

Liberalism no longer exists. The party of the people for the people, as envisaged by its founder Robert Menzies is long gone, ruined and wrecked by vandals of its political philosophy.

Those followers with twisted minds and duplicitous thoughts have to decide what it is they want to be. They can choose to continue as the Conservative party they have become with the leader they have acting as if an evil thought never entered his head or under the same leader, leading a far-right party and being who he really is. A woeful man without an empathetic thought. That is his history, his record.

Albanese won the election because he concentrated on two issues. The first was to focus enormously on a failed leader who had become deeply unpopular and consistently lied. The second was his failure to come up with profound solutions to Australia’s significant challenges.

The chronology shows that its leaders are attracted to the same disposition. Look at Tony Abbott; he was so diabolically bad at being prime minister and was of the same personality traits.

The real enemy of neo-conservative politics in Australia is not Labor or democratic socialism. It is simply what Australians affectionally call it: A fair go.

When Tourism Minister Fran Bailey sacked Scott Morrison as CEO of Tourism Australia in 2006, she said of him that he was “missing that part of the brain that controls empathy.” (From the Niki Savva book, Bulldozed: Scott Morrison’s Fall and Anthony Albanese’s Rise, and reviewed on The Conversation).

I’m currently reading her book, and whilst it lambasts Morrison and the conservatives, it isn’t without humour:

Barnaby Joyce being “to Liberal voters what Roundup was to weeds.”

“Often, he would screw his friends” (speaking about the former Prime Minister).

Voters “grew sick and tired of his weaving, wedging, dodging, fibbing, and fudging,” Savva judges. He was “Boris Johnson without the hair or the humour.”

He was “messianic, megalomaniacal, and plain mad.”

“He was woeful,” says Savva, “the worst prime minister I have covered … He simply wasn’t up to the job.”

The Coalition, it would seem, attracts, for whatever reason, the racist, the conspiracy theorist, strange people, science deniers, the misogynist, the anti-gay and a media led by a much louder man than the voice of reason. Then, of course, some are of dubious intellect.

Christensen, Paterson, Abetz, Joyce, Dutton, Cash, Hastie, Littleproud, Stuart, Sukkar, Taylor, Ley, Porter, Abbott and Canavan. And others are of that ilk.

I am convinced conservatives believe that the effect of lying diminishes over time and forget that they leave behind a residue of broken trust.

In their Newspoll quarterly aggregates: July to December, The Poll Bludger reports that:

As it usually does on Boxing Day, The Australian has published quarterly aggregates of Newspoll with state and demographic breakdowns, on this occasion casting an unusually wide net from its polling all the way back to July to early this month, reflecting the relative infrequency of its results over this time. The result is a combined survey of 5771 respondents that finds Labor leading 55-45 in New South Wales (a swing of about 3.5% to Labor compared with the election), 57-43 in Victoria (about 2%), 55-45 in Western Australia (no change) and 57-43 in South Australia (a 4.0% swing), while trailing 51-49 in Queensland a 3% swing).

Further analysis by The Poll Bludger would suggest that if an election were held now, Labor would win another six seats.

So, it all looks rather bleak for the conservative side of politics, and it all comes back to reading community attitudes. It had been self-evident for some time that the people had become disenchanted with how the body politic was being torn asunder in Australia. Scandals had become commonplace, and corruption was rife.

On May 21, the Australian people let their opinions be known. The new leader of the Conservative Party, Peter Dutton, is busy in this new world trying to convince a rapidly declining audience that he is different from the person we have known for the past decade.

I have not yet known a politician who has successfully changed his image from somewhere near subhuman to a nice guy. Abbott tried and found a bridge too far. The senior conservative party thinks this leopard can change its spots into love hearts.

 

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

 

A commitment to social justice demands the transformation of social structures and our hearts and minds.

Now the National Party is falsely claiming it had a good election (it kept its seats but had swings against it in each). Its leader David Littleproud is prancing around as though he is the de facto leader of the Coalition and would be happy with a divorce. His decision not to support the Indigenous Voice to Parliament is appalling and has cost him one member in Andrew Gee.

Both parties are performing poorly in the parliament, asking questions that reflect badly on themselves. And Paul Fletcher is deplorable as Shadow House Leader.

Writing for The Spectator, Michael Sexton reports says that:

“Demography is moving against the Liberals in a number of electoral groups. This is particularly true among young people who are often attracted to the Greens. They have no fear of the Greens’ irrational economic policies because they have never experienced anything in their lives other than continuing periods of stable economic growth and assume that this cannot ever be disrupted. Moreover, they have grown up in a society where many members of the community make no connection between a government’s revenue and its expenditure so that it is simply assumed that any problem that arises in the community can be addressed by increased government spending without any corresponding increase in taxation.”

Other factors that point to a problematic future are that, based on the previous history, the independents are likely to keep their seats. And a demographic missed by most scribes is the dying off of Conservative baby boomer supporters and the emergence of young Labor and Greens voters.

The Liberal Party as we know it was well and genuinely outspent by Labor, the Teal independents in those seats captured by the Teals. Large companies so concerned about projecting a clean image have stopped donating to a party with an embodiment of buffoonery.

Unions, as is their right, donate heartily to Labor whilst business is reluctant to do so with the LNP, fearing a backlash. It is unlikely to change, so the Liberal Party will continue under-financed into the future.

Again quoting Michael Sexton:

“To all this can be added the fact that the Liberals have comprehensively lost the culture wars. They are the subject of mockery in schools and universities, by the ABC and at artistic and literary festivals. And, as already noted, even in many corporate boardrooms their policies in such areas as climate change, border protection, freedom of speech and religious rights are the subject of deep hostility. These views are not necessarily reflected in the general community but the relentless denigration by these opinion-making groups in Australian society has inevitably taken some toll in the electorate. In the 1950s and the 1960s the Liberals were the respectable party of the establishment and Labor the slightly disreputable alternative.”

At the risk of repeating myself, under its current leadership and personnel, the Liberal Party is finished and has been dead, buried and cremated for some time.

Under a leader as unpopular as the previous one, the party needs somewhere to go. It can remain right of centre, which Labor now occupies or move more to the right, which would be more their actual position.

There is no future in whatever they do.

My thought for the day

The Liberal Party has always been a party of elites and would-be types. The idea that economics and society are intertwined is abhorrent to them. Economics is the domain of the wealthy and privileged, and culture belongs to those of class and privilege.

 

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18 comments

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  1. Harry Lime

    Ain’t karma a bitch? I look forward to the total destruction those fools,as they delude themselves into obscurity.It’s only a matter of time before they begin to consume themselves.

  2. Andy56

    Its a bit hard to be conservative when the world is spinning out of control. Why is it spinning you may ask. Well you reap what you sow in this world. We have seen first hand what it means to have no comunal care. Issue after issue spinning out of control. Seemingly moral issues turned into not my problem. All with the full blessing of the morality police. I dont hold a hose just seemed to hit the nail. ” bracket creep” on issues such as HECs fees, young people have never had it so good. Housing affordability, just get a better job. My house comes at the expense of making someone else rich and me poor. Climate change, everyone is going to die so lets make sure we all die together. The idea we dont have to die doesnt even enter their vocabulary. Sports rots, government using our taxes to pay for your vote when money is too tight for any increase in the dole. Their actions seem to be disconnected from their words. Government debt is bad so they trippled it and then doubled it.
    When the liberals set about trying to destroy labor with fear, they dropped any pretence that they had policies for the future. The world has changed in their image but they dont see it. They dont understand that the brave new world of the individual requires new ways of doing things. Yet, Going back to the jungle is so totally opposed to human nature. The gig job, young people know all too well what that means. The young see a world that is running towards a cliff, they dont want to go there. Conservative these days means you step on the accelerator towards the cliff.
    I am an old guy yes, but deep down inside i am still the young person who wants a better world. The jungle is not a better world.

  3. Geoff Andrews

    All it would require is an, as yet unknown back bencher or low profile keeper to emerge from the wake the LNP are currently enjoying and everything would change.
    The MSM would “discover” this “breath of fresh air” who apparently never voted for Morrison or his ilk in the Party room; whose favourite colour is not the true blue Liberal… more tealish.
    She (has to be a woman) may be hiding in the Senate (remember John Gordon?)

    BTW. Do you want equal numbers of males & females in the House of Reps?
    Let’s say we want 70 Members
    of each sex.
    Create 70 electorates, each electorate elects one man & one woman; two ballot papers, one with all male candidates, the other all female.
    Same with the Senate.

  4. New England Cocky

    I wish Boofhead Duddo & his side-kick $us$san LazEE all the best as the life-long Leader and Deputy Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition as Australia moves towards a Republic with an Australian borne Head of State.

    Howard, RAbbott, Turdball & Scummo will be ranked with Merdock among the wreckers of ”The Lucky Country” that gave Australia a wonderful standard of egalitarian living before the 1993 – 2022 culture wars voiced by deviate shock-jocks of very limited ability. This resulted in Australia natural resources being transferred to the control of foreign owned multinational corporations with the jobs going to the overseas labour rather than Australian workers. How has this benefited Australian workers??

  5. Kathryn

    So the smirking, born-to-rule, misogynistic political psychopaths in the LNP are now feeling as blue as the symbolic ties they wear to show that they are signed-up members of the most inept, dangerously undemocratic and depraved “boys’ club” ever seen in this nation? The total rejection they suffered at the last election shows that Lady Karma has, at last, turned around and justifiably kicked their pretentious, smug backsides to the gutter where they truly belong.

    The fact that the wretched miscreants in the LNP have, for many years, formed an undemocratic alliance with Murdoch (their condemned Propaganda Minister) and the corrupt, privatisation-obsessed IPA (Institute of Public Affairs), makes them even MORE dangerous! The LNP, under the misguided mismanagement of three of the worst, most self-serving, tyrannical, regressive and nauseating bible-thumping hypocrites and war mongers: Howard, Abbott and Morrison, are (we hope) in the last dying stages of total irrelevance following a long bout of international condemnation, unspeakable inhumanity, non-stop corruption and misogynistic predation!

    The last federal election is the justifiable outcome after the type of depravity so many members of the LNP have sunk to whereby NONE of them have faced any level of legal retribution or consequence for their deplorable acts of escalating corruption, non-stop pathological lies and borderline fascism. The truth is that there isn’t a single vice one can name that these parasitic elitists in the LNP have not indulged in; no gutter too low that they haven’t wallowed in and no twisted lie, slander, connivance or deception too appalling that they haven’t stooped to in order to attain, and maintain, a shocking and terrifying level of fascist power.

    The fact that Morrison tried to surreptitiously – and undemocratically – take over at least FIVE PORTFOLIOS is not at all surprising – this was one of the final acts of borderline fascism that this totally depraved megalomaniacal narcissist tried to achieve with the assistance of a disgraced governor general who allowed it to happen! The amazing thing is that Morrison and Hurley had the stratospheric hubris to actually BELIEVE they could get away with it! The fact that this truly vile, malevolent political psychopath tried – and failed – to hide his unspeakable born-to-rule depravity, lies and corruption behind a thin, phony cloak of bible-thumping hypocrisy, makes him even more reprehensible (if that is at all possible). Considering the depths that the unconscionable, malevolent political psychopath, Morrison, is prepared to stoop to as the absolute worst PM since …. well, since the LAST sociopath elevated to the top by the unprincipled rabble in the LNP – Australia sure dodged a bullet at the last federal election!

    When the results of the last federal election showed a resounding victory to the ALP, nobody was really surprised! The overwhelming majority of intelligent Australians (with the emphasis on “intelligent”) had enough foresight to know that the wretched, self-serving Lying Nasty Predators had it coming. The LNP has proven itself to be a collection of depraved misfits, contemptuous elitists and self-serving rogues who seem incapable of holding down any type of responsible job out in the REAL world which is WHY they so desperately try to hang on to autocratic power with bloodstained fingers. The LNP have now shown us that they have failed to learn a single thing by allowing that truly revolting sociopath, Morrison, to float to the top like faecal matter in a polluted pond and on the back of Morrison’s treacherous betrayal of his OWN colleagues: Michael Towke and Malcolm Turnbull! Such bloody betrayals and backstabbing coups have become “standard procedure” within the LNP which is nothing more than a collection of the most avaricious, ruthlessly inhumane and self-serving political sociopaths in our history. The LNP have become a mecca to the worst kind of self-serving miscreants and ruthless predators – none of whom have a drop of insight, remorse or humanity and ALL of whom THRIVE on hate, fear, war, misogyny, xenophobic racism, slander and the callous disregard for the most vulnerable people in our community! Just be eternally grateful that the LNP have been so thoroughly rejected – for now.

    With that heartless, mean-spirited and corrupt multi-millionaire, Dutton, waiting in the wings like some demonic behemoth waiting to take over the reigns of such an appalling, undemocratic and remorseless party as the LNP, Australians cannot afford to be complacent! It is now OUR responsibility – indeed, it is our moral DUTY – to ensure that the despicable miscreants and dangerously undemocratic dictators in the LNP remain in OPPOSITION indefinitely. Why? Because if there is ONE thing history has taught us is that the psychopaths and pathological liars in the LNP will NEVER EVER change!

  6. Baby Jewels

    Nailed it, Andy.

  7. Florence nee Fedup

    I have been musing about Menzie’s Liberal Party. Was it a conservative party? I seem to recall Menzie denies it was. Does the party Menzie create have any comparison with today’s Liberal Party? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOeZqpAyC_c

  8. Regional Elder

    Kathryn,
    An erudite and most accurate summation of the destructive power of the national Liberal Party since 1996, the year John Howard was elected.

  9. Stephengb

    Great article JL

    And followed up by some brilliant comments

    Thanks folks

  10. Liam

    “continuing periods of stable economic growth” have lead to many problems.

    Anywhere there is unchecked negative-sum competition social conditions are slowly fermenting. A competition between landlords to deprive eveyone else of livlihood for the sake of making bets on expansion that always pay off, or roads choked with vehicles that grow in size each year are some of the more visible signs.

    That growth has also seen goverments reward the rich (Or as the Victorian Liberal Party put it, “hard working middle class”) with ever more largesse. Never mentioned is how these rewards are balanced by incresing punishment of the poor.

    The misuse of government institutions and research funding to subsidise business owners is a consequence of careless spending enabled by decades of revenue growth. So too, is the devaluing of the public service, and the increasing reliance on consulting firms with deep conflicts of interest as a subsitute for policy.

    Also rarely mentioned is this growth has seen all of the rewards retained by owners and managers of capital, with real wages stagnent or in recent years declining. At the same time, the social wage in the form of public services, welfare, and public good have been drastically cut.

    Young people today see how economic growth and unchecked greed has driven their living standards below that of their parents at the same stage in life, and do not want the same decline for their children.

  11. Andrew Smith

    The LNP since the time of Howard have been ‘owned’ by US linked special interests including ideological think tanks, political, electoral and media strategies, not fit for the Australian electorate, even with wall to wall media support for the LNP &/or gaslighting everyone else….

  12. Canguro

    I’d like to second the above comments: a great essay by John Lord, followed by Kathryn’s brilliant assessment of the collected human wreckage that comprises the LNP, and well backed up by incisive observations from others, all in all a worthy contribution to the AIMN corpus.

    Per Kathryn’s comment that ‘there isn’t a single vice one can name that these parasitic elitists in the LNP have not indulged in’, I went down the rabbit hole to satisfy my curiosity, and found the following, possibly abbreviated, list:

    Envy, Anger, Greed, Temperance, Gluttony, Sloth, Arrogance, Pride, Cowardice, Magnificence, Vanity, Laziness, Dishonesty, Cruelty, Lust; extended within Buddhism to absence of shame or embarrassment, jealousy, parsimony, drowsiness, distraction, torpor, and concealment of wrongdoing.

    Well-nailed, Kathryn! Now, if we can only get the bastards to stare deeply into their mirrors while reflecting on these shortcomings perhaps there is a slight hope in hell of redemption, but I’m not optimistic.

  13. wam

    A new year’s toast to AIMN:
    “Here’s to us, who’s like us Damn few, and they’re all dead.”
    ps
    Florence, Pig iron bob’s party was WASP. Today WASC with hand clappers.

  14. Florence nee Fedup

    National archives released Howard’s cabinet papers of 2002 today.

  15. andy56

    if you fail to heed the lessons of history, you are bound to repeat the same mistakes. Post war ww2 australia boomed. It wasnt till Reaganaomics and thatchernomics took hold that the slide began. The liberals changed ideology to small government and below par services. At whitlam’s demise they relearned the power of fear and destruction. When whitlam was voted in, the people wanted change and the libs were determined there would be no change. For all of my adult life, these knuckledraggers have thrown out the boat anchor the size of a mountain. They have poisoned the well of good policies. Super comes to mind. Labor were so intimidated that instead of raising the pension, they created a new industry. Now that is fucked. Its not about the average good retirement, its about government revenue and the $130b a year that comes out of the economy, squeezed into fixed assets. So what have i learned? If you want change you got to fight for it , tooth and nail. The goths have no fear in laying waste or living on our entrails.
    Conservatives my arse, they want us back in the jungle, survival of the fittest. very christian of them, just like the head of the Russian orthodox church, all for Russian war. Funny how conservatives have hitched that christian ride when their espoused ideologies are polar apart. Interesting bed fellows. Both are in decline, wonder why?

  16. margcal

    Andrew Smith January 1, 2023 at 3:25 am
    The LNP since the time of Howard have been ‘owned’ by US linked special interests including ideological think tanks, political, electoral and media strategies, not fit for the Australian electorate, even with wall to wall media support for the LNP &/or gaslighting everyone else….

    ###

    also linked to, or more accurately, under the thumb of, the US military machine. Unfortunately, Albo is showing no interest in examining this aspect of our Liberal past.

  17. leefe

    The LNP are not, and have not been since at least LJH’s time, conservative. They are reactionaries, trying to drag the country back to feudal times, with themselves and their corporate masters in place of the nobility.

    ” … the subject of mockery … by the ABC … ”

    Has Sexton been watching the same ABC I do? Somehow it seems not.

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