Contrary to reports, Wentworth has not been a blue ribbon Liberal seat since the 1980s. And the seat is so unusual that, apart from the impact on Liberal morale, Australia-wide conclusions cannot be drawn from the result.
The by-election loss was increasingly encouraged by the Turnbull dynasty. The impact of this can be seen by comparing the earlier postal votes where Sharma was leading by 63 per cent. This could be at least part of the reason for the strike by about one quarter of the electorate who didn’t vote.
The result was always going to be close, as I predicted on Sky News’s Outsiders. Dave Sharma won all of the old Wentworth Liberal polling places along the harbour, while Labor’s preferred candidate, Dr Kerryn Phelps, won the Labor-inclined polling places added to old Wentworth. These are adjacent to the city of Sydney and along the beaches, including Bondi.
Now it is true that after 2010, Turnbull seemed to turn Wentworth into a safe seat. That was a mirage.
In elections after the euphoria over Kevin Rudd in 2007, Wentworth’s Labor-inclined voters behaved rationally. They voted directly, or indirectly through our ridiculous system of preferential voting, for the most notorious of the LINOs, Liberals In Name Only, the nation has ever seen.
Of course they would; they knew that Turnbull was dragging the Liberal party beyond even the centre to the left. Not only was he a most devout worshipper of the increasingly discredited theory of man-made global warming.
He was even targeting and thus alienating the despised Liberal base, the intended and current SFRs, Self-Funded Retirees. But they are synonymous with Menzies’ forgotten people – small businessmen, professionals, farmers, tradesmen and even reluctant unionists. Turnbull lost them all.
When Labor voters saw the party’s preferred candidate Dr Phelps, they voted for her. So on official figures Dr Phelps will win. I say ‘official figures’ because when it seemed during counting that she had won, some Liberal scrutineers reportedly went home. This could have encouraged a higher margin for fraud than usual.
The fact is our electoral system seems designed to encourage fraud.
The Liberal establishment refuses to accept that since Labor is significantly better at this, reforming the electoral system is not only their duty, it’s in their interest. That said, when John Howard tried to clean up one aspect, the High Court brazenly invented a reason why he couldn’t.
The Liberal establishment should recall Gough Whitlam’s reproach when Joe Riordan lost Philip, which is now part of Wentworth, ‘Comrade, how negligent of you. To lose a seat in which there is not one, but three cemeteries, is unforgivable.’
In the meantime, Wentworth along with the rest of Australia, has been touched by the elitist scourge which, after Whitlam, has particularly infected affluent well-educated voters.
This has impacted more on Labor voters in the newer parts of Wentworth. This is because they are rarely blue-collar traditional Labor voters, ones who might vote for someone like Howard or Abbott.Rather, they’re those described by Kim Beazley senior – who famously said that when he was young, his branch consisted of the ‘cream of the working class’. Now, he said, it consists of the ‘dregs of the middle class’.
Thus a large part of the Wentworth electorate – some Liberals and most Labor voters – can be classified as elite; a significantly higher proportion than in most other electorates.
They readily endorse fashionable issues that pour in, contrived by cultural Marxists who now concede that their socialist economic policies have been a disaster. Hence crony capitalism and programmes encouraging dependency are now preferred together with those undermining that enemy identified by Marx and Engels, the traditional family.
Wentworth today is unusual in that a large number of voters never stop proclaiming that they are the most virtuous in the nation.
Talk to many Wentworthies and they will soon tell you: ‘I am really concerned about the poor asylum seekers on Manus…’ or ‘I am concerned about what fossil fuels are doing to the world/sinking Pacific Islands/ Barrier Reef etc.’
A word of warning: never ever ask them about how they’re managing their carbon (dioxide) footprint. That will only attract a stare more icy than that of the next wave of global cooling.
As a result of the infestation of this elitism, Wentworth was one of less than a dozen electorates in 1999 which recorded over 60 per cent support for the Keating-Turnbull Republic, not a real one but a politicians’ republic vesting near-dictatorial powers in the prime minister.
Then, after Graham Richardson and other Labor grandees had rejected his plea for a safe Labor seat, Wentworthies in 2004 had to choose between Turnbull and the sitting member, Peter King, founder of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy.
With the Liberal establishment actually condoning the infamous ‘mother of all branch stacks’, King was standing as an independent.
But because they knew that if King won he’d almost always vote with the Liberals, Labor did not run dead as they did in 2018. So Turnbull scraped in on preferences.
Graham Richardson and the Labor grandees must be cracking their ribs laughing.
They bequeathed the mess the Liberals are in today.
Turnbull’s almost continuous Machiavellian campaigning and plotting and his inextinguishable but totally empty ambition led to such major policy and campaigning failures that even that most blinkered and self-interested of electoral colleges, the Liberal Party room, eventually tired of him.
As 2GB’s Luke Grant eloquently put it, the mother of all branch stacks ended up with the mother of all dummy spits, with Turnbull walking out within months of a general election.
Now some LINOs are demanding that Dr Phelps’ ascendancy means her far-left agenda should be adopted by the Liberals as theirs. In other words, making the Liberals indistinguishable from Labor and ensuring a total loss of confidence in the parliamentary party by the Liberal base, to say nothing of traditional real Labor voters.
Don’t they ever learn?
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Subscribe – Try a month free