The Liberals Have Absolutely No Idea What They’re Doing

By this point you are probably well aware of the absolute electoral bloodbath which took place in Victoria this weekend, where the Labor government extended their existing majority, and made serious inroads into conservative Melbourne electorates which are quite literally the birthplace of the modern Liberal Party.

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Since Saturday night there has been an absolute firestorm of analysis as to how something like this could have happened. It’s obviously true that Labor was able to point to actual things they’ve achieved in the past four years – things that Victorian residents can actually see and experience. It’s also true that the Libs tried running the most blatantly racist law-and-order campaign in recent memory in the most progressively-minded state in the country. It’s also true – and you might have forgotten this one – that the Libs knifed a sitting prime minister several months ago for unclear reasons they have basically refused to explain.

Basically, they’re in complete disarray. The Liberal Party has no clue who it is actually representing, and has completely misjudged the current mood and tone of the electorate. Maybe thanks to Donald Trump and Brexit they think the only way to ride the wave of populist sentiment is just to be aimlessly reactionary and hope that translates into votes.

The agonising Newspoll numbers today puts the lie to that assumption once again:

Those numbers are basically a death sentence.

As much as the Liberals might hope (and publicly say) that the Victorian result was purely on state issues and won’t have a big impact on next year’s federal election, that’s obviously insane. Regardless of how well Labor campaigned down in Victoria – and they did incredibly well – they were building off the general anger at the absolute chaos which has consumed federal politics over the past few years. As I said before: Scott Morrison is our prime minister now and we still don’t know why that is exactly.

The Libs expect the average voter to basically be chill with that.

who are you mate

Many many column inches have been dedicated to that fact that the Liberal Party basically exists in an insane shadow world of talkback radio and Sky News, leading them to think the Australian electorate is roughly one billion times more conservative than it actually is. It’s hard to fault that logic when you see the response to the Victorian election from the right-wing commentariat, who think the only problem with the Libs is that they’re not insane enough:

  • Miranda Devine thinks the Coalition got torched in Victoria because they didn’t freak out enough about Safe Schools. This would presumably be news to literally anyone who, unlike Miranda, occasionally thinks about other things.
  • Alan Jones, who does not live in Victoria and doesn’t really seem to know anything about it, addressed Sky from his apartment next to the Opera House where he railed against the Libs for not going hard enough about gang crime – one of the few things they actually campaigned on – before claiming that it doesn’t matter anyway because Scott Morrison is a much better campaigner.
  • Tony Abbott‘s former chief of staff Peta Credlin made the frankly astounding claim on Sky that the fact a terrorist attack happened in Melbourne made it much harder for the Opposition to get terrorism on the agenda. What? What?
  • The black hole of stupidity that is Outsiders featured Rowan Dean and Piers Akerman claiming that “something needs to change” in the Liberal Party, despite the fact something has already changed, about three months ago, that they desperately wanted.
  • Ray Hadley‘s big lesson from all of this is that the Coalition needs to promise to build a coal-fired power station. Okay.
  • The Sydney Morning Herald has published an op-ed from a Liberal Party activist who says that the lesson for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is that she needs to become more right-wing. Of course.

It’s no secret that the Liberal Party has basically fully committed to going batshit right-wing in the vague hope that the voters they have lost to One Nation will come crawling back.

But who are they actually representing? Aside from kowtowing to deeply irrelevant, crusty old socially conservative backbenchers, and rentseeking interests in the resources interest, you’d be pretty hard-pressed to name who their actual constituency is now. A Liberal MP told the ABC that women and young people are “abandoning the party in droves,” a trend that has been going on for some time. Given that the party offers these demographics absolutely nothing, it’s not much of a surprise.

If you’re a young person who isn’t standing ready to inherit a great deal of wealth and real estate from your rich parents, what does the current Liberal Party offer you? Scott Morrison’s extensive collection of Hurley caps? It’s pretty slim pickings.

The Coalition is stumbling towards an absolute obliteration in the federal election next year, and they deserve every single bit of it. Perhaps the politicians and media trying their very best to drag Australia deeper into the swamp of the far-right might take pause from that.