The dust will settle in Victoria, the finger-pointing after the Liberals’ state-election thrashing will play out, and then …. well, what exactly? Will the crucial ‘why’ be forensically addressed? Why, to start with, so many previously blue-ribbon seats were lost? Why so many former supporters rejected the ostensible conservative party for one encrusted with scandals, rorts, intramural feuds and police investigations?
No doubt there will be a reckoning. There must be a reckoning and re-appraisal of how well and closely the Liberal Party stood by the spirit of self-reliance, hard work and achievement which were once at the core of its being. There was none of that. Instead, we saw a party go to the polls on a platform boasting a policy of taxpayer-funded bribery that aimed to secure votes by promising great deals on a cheap fridge. Sad, very sad.
Perhaps we should treat this Victorian election as a warning bell, as a signal of deepest disillusionment with the performance and decisions of the party elite.
The Liberal Party that once was had no truck with the deceptively attractive ideas and emotional crusades of class warriors, the peddlers of ‘rob the rich and share the loot’ ideological poison and the weaponising of envy, jealousy and resentment.
Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the Liberal Party of Australia changed. This process, probably, began with the Malcolm Fraser’s participation in the ‘elder statesmen’ group, which delivered the former breadbasket of Africa, then known as Rhodesia, into the grubby hands of Marxist dictator Robert Mugabe. Speaking personally, that was the defining moment for me, when it dawned that a creeping naivete — a slow, almost stealthy philosophical impoverishment, if you will — was taking charge. Even to a recent immigrant to Australia, as I was 40 years ago, the Liberals were perceptibly shifting their political stance, their beliefs and what drove their decision-making. And they were moving to the left. Today, gazing o’er the post-Turnbull rubble of the party to which his plotting and scheming administered the coup de grace, there is not much daylight to discern between Liberal and Labor. This drift away from core principle was both tolerated and encouraged by Liberal loyalists, happy to see their party in power rather than the worse alternative.
The Liberals in Victoria, poor things, did not realise what they regarded as their conservative voter base did not regard them as their voice anymore. The Liberals, so close to Labor in their politics, ideas, methods and even their language, did not notice that they had become Labor’s first cousins in all but name. If they did, they actually thought it a good thing. Look to the now-former state member for Hawthorn, John Pesutto, who admitted when conceding defeat that he was happy his daughter attended Friday’s kiddie climate march. Sometimes defeat can be a blessing.
Just put yourself in the shoes of the ordinary conservative voter: if there is not much difference between Humpty and Dumpty who to choose? The one promising you more, of course. That is the reason, in the main, why conservative voters went across the political divide and voted Labor in Victoria. Pollster Mark Textor memorably dismissed the Liberals’ traditional supporters as having nowhere else to go, adding insult to ignorance by saying they no longer mattered. The ostensible conservative party ceased to be the conservative party and became a social democrats without having the honest decency to officially change their name. And contrary to Textor’s arrogant expectation, they did indeed find other places to go.
Nationally, as in Victoria, we are faced with the grim prospect of a left-wing government for quite a while, and it doesn’t much matter if its members’ business cards say ‘Liberal’ or ‘Labor’. Is there a road back? Yes, and here it is instructive to look across the Pacific, where Donald Trump has declared, stood by, and implemented policies in direct opposition to those of his Democratic opponents. Moreover, like him personally or not, he has had the courage to defy the obscene bias of the mainstream media and the social media lynch mobs from which the punditocracy now takes so many of its cues and memes.
Here are some of the lessons we could take from the Trump playbook:
- Minimise the damage Labor might do in the future by appointing conservatives to long-term positions in as many important key institutions as it is possible
- Scrap Paris and let the electorate know this has been done because expensive power is beggaring families and closing industries.
- Conclude long-term treaties with countries of similar structure and democratic institutions
- Reduce the harm inflicted by the Left’s proselytising in schools and universities by prohibiting any political preaching in classrooms across the country
- Reverse the insane programs of the genderfiddlers
- Privatise the ABC and SBS. If you can’t do that, at the very least establish an outside review board to examine complaints. The ABC should not be in a position to police itself.
- Review the levels of migration, especially from countries that are known hotbeds for terror and where the prevailing religious authorities preach violence as a devotional exercise
- Repel 18C
- Review and reform the welfare system, which will also help solve the immigration problem.
- Increase defense spending while insisting on more bang for the buck.
- Become once again the natural home and effective voice of Australian conservatism.
The last point is crucial. If we accept, as the polls tell us, that the Coalition is bound for an extended stay in the political wilderness, then this is the moment to act. If you are facing death, better to go down fighting. Why not, as one example, constitute and protect with legislation an outside body to handle complaints of ABC bias and inaccuracy?
Will it happen? If Victoria’s hapless and hopeless Liberals are any guide, probably not. But it should.