Features Australia

Saving the Liberal left?

Howard’s ‘broad church’ no longer exists

21 May 2022

9:00 AM

21 May 2022

9:00 AM

There is nothing like a very long, very tedious election campaign that totally ignores the pain of the truly dispossessed to further tick off the already disgruntled. That the number of pre-poll votes cast to date has trebled the already large numbers voting early in 2019 should come as no surprise. We just want it to be over. Whatever the outcome of the election, the first piece of advice to a future prime minister of an already tired government, seemingly bereft of ideas or promise, and having little to distinguish itself from its opposition would be – do not, under any circumstances, opt for a long campaign. Enough, already. The last thing that many voters, especially that considerable percentage already angry – not just disillusioned – and committed to voting for one of the freedom-friendly minor parties and preferencing the majors last, want to experience is yet more lies, propaganda and pork barrelling. Once you have voted early, you can turn off the TV and get on with what is left of life in the Covid new normal.

You know the incumbents are in deep strife when all manner of introspection on the future of the governing party breaks out well before (official) election day. The thought bubbles on the fate of the so-called Liberal party ‘moderates’, the heroes of net zero, gay marriage and the hurt feelings of the transgendered, among other causes so highly relevant to Jo(e) Average, are intriguing, and just as other-worldly as almost everything that now emanates from the mouths of the punditocracy.

Concern for the plight of the leftists in the Liberal party post-election is emanating from a range of sources. One is from the moderate faction itself, from none other than Matt Kean, for whom, unlike Tim Paine, an embarrassing sexting scandal did nothing to damage his career progress. Kean recently opined that absent the modern Liberals like Trent Zimmerman, Dave Sharma, Tim Wilson and so on, the party would be at risk of becoming ‘like the Republicans’, Trump supporting, gay-hating, coal-worshipping, Putin-supporting anti-vaxxers.

I am not sure what Kean’s definition of an anti-vaxxer is. Does he include, for example, those who might have sympathy for the ten thousand New South Wales unvaxxed teachers sacked by his government, and still to be either re-instated or compensated? Or those who had to be rescued from the Lismore flood by private citizens because the State Emergency Services leadership stopped the unvaxxed from joining the rescue efforts?  Are they anti-vaxxers? Recent figures from the United States show that now 65 per cent of Americans have either refused the jab altogether, or refused a second jab having had the first, or refused the booster, having had both previous vaccines. The equivalent number for Australia, based upon Our World in Data figures, is 76 per cent. Not a tiny number, then, have concluded that vaccine redemption is not for them. Kean might also not be aware of recent Israeli research which shows that the boosters are good for… eight weeks. Nor, perhaps, does he know about the 828 deaths following receiving the vaccine officially recorded for Australia, or the 2,096 in the United Kingdom, or the 14,379 in Europe, or the 27,532 in the United States.  All caused by the Covid Corporate State of which Kean is a senior player. (Kean’s friend in Canberra, the outgoing health minister, has given us as his parting gift a $13 million advertising campaign to encourage boosters, including for 5- to 11-year-olds, that seems to me to have broken both electoral laws on political advertising and all manner of truth-in-advertising provisions). Having a cheap crack at anti-vaxxers is clearly still seen by the powers that be as being just fine, but perhaps it will simply strike many as out-of-touch hubris on the part of one for whom hubris is his middle name.

The so-called ‘teal’ independent in Went-worth, Allegra Spender, the progeny of Carla Zampatti and John Spender and descendant of Liberal stalwart Sir Percy Spender, agreed with Kean’s message. Allegra, too, saw a dark future for the transgendered and their right-side-of-history cheer squad if moderate Liberals fell. Which does raise questions about the seat-targetting strategy of the teals, by the way. Then we had the enduring soldier of the progressives-in-print, Niki Savva, putting in her tuppence-worth. Savva seems actually to believe that the Liberal party is still a conservative machine that, through Morrison’s support of his candidate in Warringah and hence his perceived attack on the transgendered, has offended the rest of right-thinking Sydney and will pay the ultimate electoral price. Now, we real Australians, after two years of lockdowns and mandates and all manner of Covid totalitarianism and gaslighting, are used to viewing the laptop class as being unhinged from reality. But anyone who believes, as Savva claims to, that the Liberal party in Canberra – or anywhere else, for that matter – has lurched to the right post-Turnbull, is clearly talking about another country, not Australia. Savva’s notion of a true liberal, of course, is one Malcolm Turnbull, and this, no doubt, clouds her thinking on all manner of things political.

Finally, we have the Liberals’ elder statespersons (former prime ministers both) weighing in, to circle the wagons as one might expect of them, but also to defend something that no longer even exists. Yes, I speak of the Liberal ‘broad church’. The young NSW Premier has become the third generation of Liberal leaders, conservatives all, to extol the virtues of having ‘moderates’ in a ‘broad church’, and the dire need to defend them against the dreaded teals, and anyone else who might threaten them. The ‘moderates’ within the Liberal party never, ever cease to defecate on their conservative colleagues from a great height, to go out of their way to pick fights and to have a winner-take-all approach to factional power plays. Their internal opponents, on the other hand, simply smile sweetly, even turn up at the campaign launches of candidates with whom they, if we are to accept what they have said all their lives about their core values, are in violent disagreement. Astonishingly, these same Liberal elders remain silent on the masses of conservatives who have abandoned them on the right. Now, that is the real problem for the Liberal party and for the rapidly dwindling numbers of people who even care about the future of Menzies’ Child.

A surreal election campaign, to be sure, and one that, like the principal participants in it, we would all like to forget as quickly as possible. Self-obsession by major parties more concerned with ideological navel-gazing at a time when our nation has been ravaged by Covid alarmism (what was all that about?), economic ruin, autocracy, police state powers, crushed businesses, unattended natural disasters, a cost-of-living crisis, aged care in ruins and defence non-existent, is never a good look. No wonder that a third of the electorate, overwhelmingly not remotely ‘teal’, is determinedly looking the other way, and feeling decidedly nauseous about our democratic future. Saving the Liberal left? Forget it. This particular chore is not at or near the top of most voters’ to-do lists.

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