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.
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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