When Labor’s Chris Bowen told voters, “If you don’t like our policies, don’t vote for us,” it was an applaudable moment of conviction and commitment I’d like to see more often in political contests. Tell the electorate who you are, what you believe in, what you honestly think is worth fighting for, and then let us choose.
I asked my Uber driver yesterday if he was happy with the outcomes of the federal election, without telling him anything about me or my views. He offered that he was normally a Labor voter, but was greatly disillusioned by the way they’d “become so Green.” Those are his words, not mine. He explained in great detail how he felt they had become unreasonable about the Adani coal mine, climate change, and sexuality politics. He shared that although he had ultimately preferenced Labor above the LNP, he’d voted for a whole lot of minor parties above them.
I know of other generational Labor voters who felt they could no longer vote Labor because of their pro-abortion policies. Some had even gone to the effort of campaigning for a Coalition government in their social circles.
Labor has been rushing left for a decade, dragged well beyond the comfort of most Australians by Green preferences. Conservatives long for the days of now comparatively moderate Labor leaders like Hawke and Keating. There was no room for affection for them when we thought that was the worst Labor could produce, but then we got to know Rudd, Gillard and Shorten.
Former Labor politicians from that era like Mark Latham and Gary Johns can echo the sentiment of disenfranchised lefties like Dave Rubin who bemoan the fact that they didn’t leave the Left – the Left left them. They haven’t significantly changed their views. They, like conservatives but not conservative, are now the targets of leftist hate and vitriol because they dare to dissent from Labor’s hard lurch towards authoritarianism and radical socialism.
Labor pundits claim Morrison had no policies, but middle Australia, undecided voters, had a good hard look at Bill Shorten. They voted against the candidate who unflinchingly said he was against the “top end of town” and included miners, property investors and self-funded retirees in his list of deplorables. Shorten even marginalised everyone in Australia who believes Biblical teaching on sin and Hell and promised to regulate expression of religious convictions.
They voted against the candidate who resolutely refused to consider the possibility that there could be a price too high for the ambiguous benefits of “real action on climate”, a propaganda line straight from Richard Di Natale who also dictated Labor’s policy on Adani.
This was an election on Labor’s informal Green coalition and their most extreme policies, not Labor’s traditional values. The undecided middle and many loyal Labor voters resoundingly rejected the moralising on carbon dioxide, the demonising of coal, and the shameless taxation of people who work hard to be independent of government.
It’s not that Australia’s not ready for their agenda – it’s that it’s completely dangerous. The lesson, if Labor is listening, is that the battle is over the social and economic middle, not a race to colonise the radical left.
Turnbull’s occupation of social leftism cost the Liberal Party heavily in both polling and the polls. Compared to his predecessor and successor as leader, the electoral outcomes of his ‘progressive’ positions and policies were devastating. Under one Christian conservative, Abbott, significant gains were made in seats held by the Coalition. Then under another Christian conservative, Morrison, an unwinnable election resulted in majority government.
The Liberals have learned their lesson, for now. Scott Morrison now has unequivocal authority for whatever agenda he deems necessary as a uniter of the left and right of his party. He’s too pragmatic to blow this currency on indulgent policies, so conservatives shouldn’t expect too much.
Hopefully, the Labor Party has learned that centre-left is where they will do best electorally. Government will change hands routinely, but this is as inevitable as it is healthy – unless one party so disfigures themselves as to horrify everyone not completely rusted on.
Only time will tell if Labor will listen to the voice of the people and take responsibility for disfiguring their party. They first must choose a new face to lead them. Will they choose someone to double down on the dumb, or someone from the right of Labor to match the appetite of Australians?
One thing’s for sure: Prime Minister Scott Morrison won’t have much to worry about in three years’ time if Labor refuses to reform their regressive recalcitrance.
Dave Pellowe is a speaker, writer and political commentator and blogs at PelloweTalk.com.
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