Apropos Animal Farm: The creatures outside [crestfallen Liberal voters] looked from Labor politicians to Liberal and from Liberal to Labor, and from Labor to Liberal again; but it was already impossible to say which was which.
I caught the American conservative warrior Ann Coulter on TV saying “the House [US House of Representatives] will flip in November.” There is no point in voting Republican, she said. She’s frustrated with her side of politics. It is an international problem as the political spectrum has shifted leftwards in most Western democracies.
Where do conservative go? There are more options in Australia than in the US, though less than in Europe where populism has leveraged off mass and unwanted Muslim immigration. Here there are splinter groups, but really the options are very limited. Voting outside of the two-party block is usually gesturing – to wit, an action performed for show while knowing it will have no effect. John Howard reminded us at one point that the Liberal Party was a broad church. How broad is broad? Trent Zimmerman is my local federal member. His views are too outlying for me. I put him down the list on my voting slip at the last election. It was a quintessential gesture.
I am willing compromise to stay inside the tent. I understand that containing government expenditure is as close to impossible as it gets. Therefore, I attach no great blame to the government for embracing the unaffordable NDIS or for increasing expenditure on schools, hospitals and child care. Unfortunately, victimhood is now so well entrenched as the go-to emotion that no political party can survive denying a growing stream of benefits to those perceived as needing services that they can’t personally afford. That part of the game is over.
I also understand that standing tall against the LGBTQ lobby pits you against the media and sanctimonious corporate bigwigs and that rejecting global-warming hysteria labels you as a pariah and worse. But things have gone too far. Same-sex marriage provided a perfect opportunity for the government to insist on a quid pro quo to ensure that those on the opposing side, particularly those with religious objections, would have their rights of conscience and free speech protected. Nothing of substance was done.
Then there’s climate. It is one thing to join the global-warming bleaters. It is quite another to implement the most useless and ruinous (supposed) countermeasures ever recorded in the annals of government. How it makes sense to cool the world by exporting records amounts of thermal coal while demolishing Australia’s coal-power stations, emitting relatively minuscule amounts of CO2, is a mystery beyond unravelling.
You might say that the federal government has been partially hijacked by state governments’ idiocies. True, but not to the point. The federal government has been missing in action. Only now is it belatedly trying to save Liddell. Hazelwood closed last year. Eight coal power stations were closed over the period 2014 to 2016. And have you spotted Malcolm Turnbull going into bat, determinedly, loudly and frequently, for fracking and nuclear power? I missed it.
Then there’s the ritual disparagement of all things Abbott. He who bravely led his motley crew to a resounding election victory less than five years ago. Or did he? “And as to the battle of the Cowshed,” as Squealer told the barnyard proletariat, “I believe that the time will come when we shall find that Snowball’s part in it was much exaggerated.”
By raising immigration and, along with others, the building of state-owned coal power stations, Tony Abbott provided a platform for these important issues to become part of the discussion in the party room and in the wider circle of Liberal members and supporters. Instead, government henchmen rushed Stalin-style to the political pulpit to denounce him.
Liberal politicians are way out of touch. Thirty negative Newspolls in a row just might be a clue. They should sample current Liberal voters and erstwhile ones like me. They will find, I believe, that most are deeply concerned about the size and makeup of immigration and the reliability and cost of power. Congestion and over-burdened services, stagnating wage levels, cultural discordance, deradicalization programs, bollards and home invasions are not mere figments. Neither are power outages, rising electricity bills and the stress this puts on the poor and on the country’s industrial base.
When did Liberal politicians start backing away from free expression, from putting Australia’s interests ahead of the global pack, from engaging with issues because they have a vendetta against the person who raises them? The answer is clear enough; when they had sidled far enough to the left. The Left at its core is globalist and fascist. It demands compliance. “Bravery is not enough,” said Squealer, “loyalty and obedience are more important.”
Anyone who strays from the party line is a rat. Ergo Abbott is a Liberal rat. Rat reformed and reprised would be nice, but it ain’t gonna happen. I fear more gesture voting is in store for me.