Why is it that left-wing political parties are so good at ruthlessly appointing like-minded fellow travellers to all the key unelected positions that matter such as the Human Rights Commissions, the public broadcaster, the judiciary, the various other commissions and tribunals and so on? And relatedly, why is it that supposedly right-wing parties and governments like the current Coalition government in Canberra are not?
It’s an interesting question because we can see this phenomenon of conservative pusillanimity and surrender in appointments across the anglosphere. Indeed, this issue has been exercising the British commentator Douglas Murray who earlier this year argued forcefully that newly re-elected conservative governments must be far more courageous in how they make their appointments to all the key positions across government. But looking at the last seven years of Coalition governments here in Australia – from the Abbott government through the Turnbull government now on to the Morrison one – all anyone on the right side of politics can observe is near-on total surrender. Cowardly appointment after cowardly appointment, all of them seemingly more concerned to stay on the good side of the ABC (good luck with that!) than of its core supporters.
The question was intriguing enough that I took it as the theme for my chapter in a new book Keeping Australia Right (just out so order away) that brought together 15 different authors who each contributed a chapter on themes ranging from immigration (we need less, way less after Covid), to energy (it’s been the Libs almost as much as Labor that have taken us from the democratic world’s cheapest electricity 15 years ago to its most expensive today, and all in the name of virtue-signalling), labour relations (too depressing to think about), economic policy and more. The book is published by Connor Court, an outfit that unlike all the university publishers does not receive a penny of government money and that helps those on the right side of politics have an outlet for their views.
At any rate, in my chapter I looked at this theme of ‘appointments and courage’ because the one thing you never see from virtually any conservative government is courage when it comes to appointments. It’s almost as if they’d much prefer to appoint their ideological enemies to these key unelected positions than anyone who might, you know, actually vote for them and share their core beliefs – and yes, I know, it is a leap to suppose that many of today’s supposedly conservative politicians have those, or indeed any, beliefs but let’s be generous. And yes, I know it’s just as bad in Britain as it is here but really that is hardly an excuse. After all, this is a core part of the culture wars we are losing and this should be one of the easiest things to turn around, given that none of these appointments needs to go through the Senate. Yet in seven years the record is exiguous at best. Try it. Try to point to a single staunch conservative appointed to anything. Go ahead. But me no Buttroses though.
And to make that point in my chapter I run the reader through recent Coalition appointments to the High Court. I point out how wholly useless the Coalition has been in their appointments to the Human Rights Commission (which in my view should be disbanded immediately, but if that’s too brave an option for them at least don’t appoint ‘Freedom Commissioners’ whom the Greens could have chosen and who do not exactly light up the airwaves on behalf of free speech or against s.18C hate speech laws or in condemnation of Dan the Man in Victoria – and this is a Coalition pick to be clear). I also mention woeful appointments to the ABC. I note that for the government that effectively bankrolls all the universities you’d be hard-pressed to name a single, solitary vice-chancellor or deputy vice-chancellor (leave aside those in charge of ‘Diversity and Equity’ to be sporting) who has right-of-centre views. Of course as all surveys throughout the anglosphere repeatedly show, university academics vote left more than right by huge margins, upwards of 8 or 9 to 1 at a minimum. In some university departments and schools you can’t find a single conservative willing to come out of the closet, assuming any exist at all.
I suppose somebody must already have pointed out to Team ScoMo that you can’t win the culture wars if you don’t even turn up to fight them. Appeasement doesn’t work. One of the things I loved about Donald Trump, and that so many effete conservatives disliked, is that he actually did fight back. Sure that’s hard to do when so much of the public service, media class, lawyerly caste and academia leans so massively left and will do near on anything to stop you. But what Trump has done is to flush out the appeasers in his own Republican party. It is hard to see any future Republican nominee or new Senate or gubernatorial candidate being successful who does not commit to the Trump-like willingness to fight back against cancel culture, political correctness, patent media bias and having left- wing nostrums shoved down our throats, not to mention committing to a public list from which all top judicial picks will be made. (And though you may instinctively dislike such lists let me tell you that what they do is to keep the right side of politics honest. In my view the majority of recent High Court of Australia appointments made by the Coalition these past seven years could never have been made had there been a list and these people’s names put on the list beforehand – because you can say things before someone’s appointed that you can’t say afterwards.)
Remember O’Sullivan’s Law coined by Maggie Thatcher’s speechwriter John O’Sullivan: ‘Any organisation or enterprise [in today’s world] that is not expressly right-wing will become left-wing over time.’ Then go and take a look at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney set up by John Howard where (as far as I could tell) not a single one of the many academics there supported Trump, not one. Or even take a look at where the Ramsay Centre seems to be moving of late. Or look at the Liberal MPs who come out of right-leaning think-tanks only to turn to mush once elected. Heck, take a look at the upper echelons of much of our military. Where, oh where, in this country is the courage in appointments that Douglas Murray is calling for? I can’t see it. Can you?
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