With the election only days away, it may be useful to re-state the modus operandi Del-Cons should bring to the ballot box.
Since Professor James Allan, and shortly thereafter I, expressed our outrage at Tony Abbott’s political assassination, commentators have persistently attacked what Miranda Devine first termed “deluded conservatives” or “Del-Cons”. We were told to “move on”, to “get over it”, and above all, not to risk electing a Labor government led by a man even more untrustworthy and unscrupulous than Malcolm Turnbull. Jennifer Oriel also told us in The Australian that “revenge” was unworthy, and we should follow Abbott’s fine example and opt for “grace” instead.
Let me be clear on both points. First, I reject the term of abuse “deluded” (though happy to wear the Del-Con badge of honour). “Disaffected”, yes; but “deluded”, no. Second, the motivation for us “Dis-Cons” is not revenge – an incidental element of schadenfreude notwithstanding – but determination to teach the Liberal Party a lesson it will never forget. When a child does something seriously wrong, a parent does not chastise it to “take revenge”, but to administer a sharp lesson with a view to affecting future behavior for the better. “Because if treachery and betrayal” on the scale of September 14 last “are not punished, they will beget more such treachery and betrayal, as Labor Party experience amply demonstrates”.
Obviously, I cannot foresee Saturday’s outcome. In a Spectator Australia article, “Rules of Engagement” (14/05/16) I therefore posited five illustrative results: “the Coalition returned with an overall majority little less than its current one (26 post-redistributions); returned with a net loss of (say) eight seats (regaining Fairfax but losing nine others) and overall majority 10; returned with a net loss of (say) 12 seats and bare overall majority of 2; Coalition losing (say) a net 14 seats, with a hung Parliament …….; or an outright loss to Labor”. I did not pose a sixth possibility – Coalition increasing its present majority.
I mention that last possibility now because, given Labor’s dreadful handicaps, it is entirely arguable that Abbott may have achieved it had he been leading the Coalition. We shall never know, but consider the issues he would have been hammering: border security, union corruption and criminal lawlessness, national security and its relationship to Islam, electricity price consequences of Labor’s risible “carbon emissions” policies, Labor’s reckless spending promises, and its dreadful debt-and-deficit prospects (even worse than the government’s), to name a few. Turnbull’s reluctance to play to these strengths – explainable only by his narcissistic reluctance to credit his predecessor with any achievements – has meant that, unlike a hypothetical Abbott leadership, he will lose seats. The only question is, how many?
While the precise House of Representatives outcome remains uncertain, and the Senate even more so, a degree of consensus about the former has emerged since that article was written. Nobody since has seriously contemplated an outright Labor win – not even its numerous Canberra press gallery allies. Few now seriously contemplate a hung Parliament. At the other extreme, nobody seriously contemplates the Coalition returning with a barely reduced majority. In short, both sides now agree that Turnbull will lose quite a few seats, but not enough to lose government.
Since such an outcome would immediately place Turnbull’s leadership under strong (and sooner or later, irresistible) pressure, this would be an ideal Del-Con result. The straws are already in the wind: why was Turnbull ultimately forced, reluctantly, to seat Tony Abbott in his campaign launch audience front row? Answer: because he needs Abbott’s visible support to win, thereby confirming the conclusion of another Spectator Australia article, “After Turnbull, Who?” (11/06/16), that after the election the parliamentary Liberals (and their National Party partners) “will need him [Abbott] back even more than he’ll need them”.
Let us come then to our voting muttons. With few exceptions, Del-Cons don’t wish to see the government defeated, because (as The Spectator Australia editorialized last week) a Shorten-led Labor government is too horrible to contemplate. Since however there now seems no reasonable likelihood of that, Del-Cons can safely vote in pursuit of their objective. Doing so does not automatically mean “putting the Liberal last”; that only applies to those with the Mark of Cain upon them, who voted to oust Abbott last September (see https://truebluenz.com/ ). There were originally 56 Liberal (including Liberal National Party) members in that category, but nine have since left the Parliament; in those latter cases one needs to examine their pre-selected replacements closely. In Mackellar, for example, the new Liberal candidate, Jason Falinski, is even further Left than Turnbull; so put him last.
To recap, then, those “Rules of Engagement”, first for the House: (1) vote National wherever a National Party candidate is standing; (2) if your Liberal Party member was among those betraying their leader last September, put that person last – and last means last; but if not, then vote for him or her as usual. In the Senate, the same principles apply but, because of the different voting system, must be activated somewhat differently: (3) most importantly, vote below the line, filling in 12 squares but excluding anyone in the Coalition lists who betrayed Abbott. To illustrate, in NSW I propose to give my first four votes to the four Nationals listed on the joint ticket; then to three Liberals, but excluding Marise Payne, Arthur Sinodinos and (for other reasons) Hollie Hughes; and then to Family First, Christian Democrats, Australian Liberty Alliance, Liberal Democrats and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. Easy; just follow the Rules.