Justinian the Great: Will the Liberal Party Capitalise on its Last Second Chance?

The Coalition has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

After six years of disunity and dysfunction this was the election they should have lost and justifiably so.

Scott Morrison rightly deserves much praise for having steadied the ship and executing a very disciplined campaign.

That said, one hopes that in victory the Liberal Party doesn’t gloss over the failures of the past six years.

The Liberal Party was thrown a life line over the weekend. They would be foolish if they did not reflect on that fact.

This was not a typical election and the success of the Liberal campaign cannot in all likelihood be replicated in future.

The bottom line is that this was an election lost by Bill Shorten and Labor. It was not won by the Coalition although it was exploited by it.

It was lost through arrogance, overreach and the politics of division spearheaded by a deeply flawed leader living in a Lefty echo chamber.

Blinded by hubris and a fawning media Bill mistook a suicide vest for a high vis vest thinking class warfare would win over the $250,000 tradies on mining sites he wanted to close.

He strapped on a vest with franking credits on one side and negative gearing on the other and with a RE detonator blew himself and the campaign bus to smithereens somewhere between Herbert and Dickson.

The only thing more astonishing was the astonishment of the ABC on election night that couldn’t fathom the consequences. How could Australians not vote for such progressive reform?

For $1b plus a year you think “our” ABC could find at least one credible political scientist to point out that winning government from opposition with a primary vote below 40% history shows is next to impossible.

The ALP broke 40% just three times in three years and was in decline come the election sitting at just 37% at the start of the campaign.

Apparently a competent political analyst is harder than finding a pollster able to identify an ALP primary vote below 34%.

I have digressed.

Had Labor adopted a small target strategy, pitched at the centre with an inclusive and trustworthy leader they would have romped it in.

I suspect Labor will not make the same mistake twice but you never know. A vote for Bowen or Chalmers would probably do it.

The Coalition can also thank their lucky stars for Clive Palmer and his relentless advertising campaign.

Many commentators have smugly gloated at his lack of electoral success draping themselves in fake political virtue about him not being able to buy his way into parliament while remaining hypocritically silent on union and GetUp political donations and campaign spend.

On current counting Clive Palmer has 3.5% of the national vote which equates to almost 575,000 voters meaning he has more followers than most of the Lefty jumped-up presenters on ABC news and current affairs programs.

To dismiss the impact UAP has had on the Labor primary vote especially in Queensland is breathtakingly ignorant.

The key takeaway here is that the Liberal Party will not get a free gift of some $50m in Labor attack ads next time.

Hence the need for some internal reflection, some humility and a sober assessment of where to now. This happy convergence of disparate and unpredictable political winds is unlikely to repeat anytime soon.

Despite benefitting from a perfect storm the Coalition is still likely headed for a slender majority of just two-to-three seats.

What is troubling for the Coalition is that its primary vote is down to 41.4%. Historically this has been a losing percentage.

For example, Abbott lost the 2010 election (72 seats) on 43.3%, Howard lost in 2007 (65 seats) on 42.1, and Hewson lost (65 seats) in 1993 on 44.3%.

One Nation and United Australia Party are collectively on 6.5% of the national vote at this election and continue to eat into the Coalition vote. In Queensland it is much higher. One Nation is recording a primary vote of 8.7% at the time of writing.

In the absence of change the Coalition’s primary vote problems will remain, which in turn will fuel poll driven media hype (irrespective of how bad the pollsters called this election), which in turn will fuel Liberal Party policy and political tensions.

This brings us to the issue of policy. The bottom line is that difficult policy choices confronting the Liberal Party have not been resolved at this election nor have existential questions concerning party values and ideology.

The Liberal Party operated from a policy free zone at this election instead focusing solely on Labor’s radical agenda. This has only deferred difficult debates and choices that will resume in government.

The Liberal Party remains a high tax and big spend party that has drifted centre-Left on climate, water and energy, immigration and multiculturalism, education and child care, tax and superannuation to name a few.

Where it hasn’t drifted Left it has by and large vacated the field, i.e. free speech, freedom of religion, workplace reform, deregulation, ABC reform / privatisation, academic freedom, free enterprise, and list your favourite culture war (you will struggle to find a Liberal advocate).

It is a party of big government that is reflexively interventionist and centralist to boot having long abandoned the notion of competitive federalism and the principle of Federal-State subsidiarity.

While the Liberal Party’s dysfunction over the past six years has been in part a function of personalities and quests for power it has nonetheless also been firmly rooted in policy and ideological differences.

Is the Liberal Party a party of small government committed to freedom in all its forms or is it a globalist party that is Labor lite? Until it resolves this existential question it will remain divided, suffer from policy paralysis and continue to be dysfunctional.

This election has arguably magnified the problem with swings to the government in aspirational electorates and against the government in its traditional “blue ribbon” affluent electorates. The Liberal leadership team is mostly based in the affluent electorates.

It is incumbent on Scott Morrison to invoke his authority from his stunning election win and resolve this internal tension one way or the other.

Until he does the government will continue to fracture on policy. If it fractures on policy it has no hope of defining its purpose as a government. Absent a purpose it will drift as before into complete dysfunction followed by political oblivion.

Having snatched victory from the jaws of defeat it remains to be seen if the Liberal Party will have learned anything from this election.

A government without purpose will always be defined by its opponents. Nature hates a vacuum.

A good starting point would be to consider that the ALP-Green declared referendum on climate change completely and utterly failed. If anything their opposition to Adani provided the catalyst for the Queensland revolt.

Then imagine what a Liberal Party might look like if it stopped pandering to and stopped being bullied by noisy minorities and instead governed with conservative, common sense conviction, pitched to the sensible centre, that proactively engaged with and informed ordinary voters.

At this election the ordinary voter railed against Shorten’s radical “progressive” agenda despite a tsunami of Left wing activism and media fuelled climate hysteria in support.

Imagine if a political party that actually spoke to them and stood up for common sense and good policy?

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23 Responses to Justinian the Great: Will the Liberal Party Capitalise on its Last Second Chance?

  1. stackja

    Many Australian voters expect “a high tax and big spend party that has drifted centre-Left on climate, water and energy, immigration and multiculturalism, education and child care, tax and superannuation to name a few.” MSM and the education system feed this expectation. I don’t know the solution other than to keep being a voice in the wilderness and hope enough Australian voters will become aware of the danger of Australia following Venezuela. I read some time ago Australia and Argentina were about equal in their economies, then Argentina went socialist while Australia kept mostly sway from socialism.

  2. tombell

    as Frydenberg made clear in his chat with a wonderfully morose Barrie Cassidy on Insiders he “accepts the science” of climate change. He is not alone in the party room. If anything, I suspect he’s still in the majority. Most pollies wouldn’t have a clue about “the science” but they do have a keen antennae on issues they think will make their taxpayer funded sinecure safer. And most pollies do not come from the regional areas where common sense is still a plentiful commodity. Sure, energy price and tax policy were probably the main drivers that got the Libs over the line. But time and time again we heard Liberal pollies sprouting ” we can provide affordable energy whilst meeting our Paris commitments” ie a complete disconnect with the impact of highly subsidized “renewables” on the grid and energy cost. According to Josh, Snowy 2.0 is going ahead. In short, I think most of the current government will be sprouting climate change nonsense all the way through to next election. Better than Labor/Greens maybe. It would be nice to expect more.

  3. Lew

    Very sound and sober summary.
    Indeed it is very possible that what Clive achieved is what he was seeking all along
    The big difference now to 8 months ago with the Government is that there is now leader who can sell a position.
    From the PM’s approach in these first few days it is apparent that he will not be too policy ambitious .
    What is a not yet known is whether he will be too cautious. I am hopeful he won’t be and that is more likely with many quislings now retired.

  4. Tim Neilson

    Imagine if a political party that actually spoke to them and stood up for common sense and good policy?

    You’re going to need some very powerful pharmaceuticals to be able to envisage that.

  5. stackja

    tombell
    #3022380, posted on May 22, 2019 at 11:43 am

    ‘AGW’ has poisoned Australia politics. It will take a courageous politician to campaign for leaving Paris. TA lost supposedly because he was against Paris.

  6. Redneck Russ

    Exactly,
    Throw Paris and AGW BS in the policy bin and promote economic development utilising our energy and mineral resources. New Dams and a vision for Australia as an Energy (including Nuclear), Agricultural and Resources powerhouse. If trading partners want our resources lets get them to help us finance extraction and refining capability.

  7. stackja

    Redneck Russ
    #3022390, posted on May 22, 2019 at 11:53 am
    Exactly,
    Throw Paris and AGW BS in the policy bin and promote economic development utilising our energy and mineral resources. New Dams and a vision for Australia as an Energy (including Nuclear), Agricultural and Resources powerhouse. If trading partners want our resources lets get them to help us finance extraction and refining capability.

    Left don’t want nuclear, their MSM mates agree.

  8. Tel

    On current counting Clive Palmer has 3.5% of the national vote which equates to almost 575,000 voters meaning he has more followers than most of the Lefty jumped-up presenters on ABC news and current affairs programs.

    And at a small fraction of the cost!

  9. cuckoo

    I’m just waiting for an admission from the ABC that their patently fraudulent ‘Vote Compass’, which only polled ABC audiences, was wrong about everything. Including, from memory, a figure of 80 percent of ‘Australians’ wanting ‘action’ on ‘climate change’.

  10. Karabar

    “Then imagine what a Liberal Party might look like if it stopped pandering to and stopped being bullied by noisy minorities and instead governed with conservative, common sense conviction, pitched to the sensible centre, that proactively engaged with and informed ordinary voters.”
    This is the most logical and comprehensive opinion on the way ahead that I have read to date.
    It seems to me that our only hope is that the sun’s inactivity will within the next three years drive home the idea that AGW is a myth as winter temperatures continue to plummet. Obviously a very large part of the population is woke to the scam. Winter temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere have bee brutal. There are ski resorts still open in California as they receive an additional two feet of snow at the end of May. Winter temperatures set records last winter in Australia as well. Surely we don’t need to have a blizzard in Perth at Christmas to cement the fact that AGW is nonsense.

  11. hzhousewife

    Surely we don’t need to have a blizzard in Perth at Christmas to cement the fact that AGW is nonsense.

    I suspect that we need ten of the above before the great unwashed reconsider the Great Warmening.

  12. max

    Scott Morrison rightly deserves much praise for having steadied the ship and executing a very disciplined campaign.

    Ah yes from villain to the hero — what baloney

    People rejected Labour policies — nothing to do with Morris.

    Fight was between socialist and socialist lite

    Socialist lite won

  13. Exit Stage Right

    Great analysis Justinian.
    At the end of the day, the absence of Malcolm Turnbull and cohorts Bishop & Pyne made it easier for the electorate to pick the less damaging party to rule, with an increased mix of ON and UAP voters and preferences as back up.
    The Liberal Party should be wary of believing that their policies, such as they are, were winners in the electorate. The Liberal Party was a little more palatable than the Opposition, thats’ all, and the catchy “Bill we cannot afford” resonated. Who would vote for such a cretin and his suicidal policies? Well, 48% of voters apparently.
    Had the ALP had slightly less damaging policies, anyone other than Bill trying to explain them and a clear stance on Adani, they would have coasted over the line.
    As it was, Scomo won the Steve Bradbury award and the Libs need to acknowledge the reasons this Devine good fortune that was bestowed on them.

  14. New Chum

    Don’t give all the credit to Scott Morrison although he ran a fairly good campaign the LNP rejected his call to put One Nation last and that looks to have paid off.
    Todays paper in Blair.
    Incumbent Labor MP Shayne Neumann still isn’t counting his chickens before they’ve hatched and has blamed “catastrophic” ALP policies for the tight margins in the seat of Blair.
    “Absentee” LNP candidate Robert Shearman netted 28.65% of the vote with minimal campaigning.

  15. j.arimathea

    “What is troubling for the Coalition is that its primary vote is down to 41.4%. Historically this has been a losing percentage.”
    I believe that the ++primary++ vote as a measure of party support has become irrelevant.What matters is what serious party comes first in the preference cascade. Preferential voting allows the voter to send a message to their preferred [or least hated] party: e.g, a doctor’s wife in Warringah may vote 1 for ‘save abandoned dogs’ and 2 for Liberals. A lower income voter worried about immigration may also vote 2 for Liberals but 1 for One Nation. Party analysts are surely thinking about this, and factor this into their strategies.

  16. Behind Enemy Lines

    Justinian the Great: Will the Liberal Party Capitalise on its Last Second Chance?
    Posted on 11:00 am, May 22, 2019 by Guest Author
    . . . imagine what a Liberal Party might look like if it stopped pandering to and stopped being bullied by noisy minorities and instead governed with conservative, common sense conviction, pitched to the sensible centre, that proactively engaged with and informed ordinary voters. . . . Imagine if a political party that actually spoke to them and stood up for common sense and good policy?

    Well said, Justinian

    And then, imagine if the Coalition also spent the next several years rewarding that same sensible centre while withdrawing all government support from their left-wing deep state enemies.

    There’d be bottomless tears, rage, shrieks and threats of doom. Followed by the biggest (and best-deserved) Coalition victory in the history of Australia.

    I’ll continue preparing for the opposite, and hoping I’m wrong.

  17. Cynic of Ayr

    Correct.
    No policies were put forward that I can think of, other then enabling home buyers to increase the principal of their loan.
    Climate Change is the biggest thing to tackle. All this useless expenditure on subsidies, wrecking power stations, and building batteries – both lithium and water must stop!
    This money is all taken from the pockets of the tax payers, the very same people that Morrison argued he was protecting from Labor.
    All the evidence is there about the Climate Change Scam. It’s abundant! All you have to do is look for it.
    A simple exercise is to follow the money!
    Cui bono?
    Here’s one. Hewson.

  18. Petros

    So the opinion polls that showed Tony Abbott was on the nose whilst PM were also wrong presumably.

  19. John A

    It is a party of big government that is reflexively interventionist and centralist to boot having long abandoned the notion of competitive federalism and the principle of Federal-State subsidiarity.

    Naturally. Every party that has a prospect of actually governing becomes a big-government interventionist. However, that does not equate to centrist.

    A centrist party would know where to intervene and where NOT to intervene, and hold the line very firmly.

  20. John A

    tombell #3022380, posted on May 22, 2019, at 11:43 am

    as Frydenberg made clear in his chat with a wonderfully morose Barrie Cassidy on Insiders he “accepts the science” of climate change. He is not alone in the party room. If anything, I suspect he’s still in the majority.

    Sadly true. And precisely because of this, the Party (and government) will not join the dots from cost of living pressures which resonate with voters (aka energy prices and blackouts) to closure of coal-fired power stations with loss of base-load stability to the RET to the Paris Agreement and Kyoto Protocols to the climate change scam.

  21. The BigBlueCat

    John A
    #3022671, posted on May 22, 2019 at 4:21 pm
    tombell #3022380, posted on May 22, 2019, at 11:43 am

    as Frydenberg made clear in his chat with a wonderfully morose Barrie Cassidy on Insiders he “accepts the science” of climate change. He is not alone in the party room. If anything, I suspect he’s still in the majority.

    Sadly true. And precisely because of this, the Party (and government) will not join the dots from cost of living pressures which resonate with voters (aka energy prices and blackouts) to closure of coal-fired power stations with loss of base-load stability to the RET to the Paris Agreement and Kyoto Protocols to the climate change scam.

    Ah, but which science? The so-called “97%”, or the sensible ones like Richard Lindzen???? My view is that eliminating the carbon tax and focussing on direct action at least runs the soft middle ground where the bare minimum is done to keep the undecided happy and not revolt in droves. They can legitimately claim to adhere to Kyoto and Paris without spending too much of OPM. (I agree that spending anything is too much, but at least it’s not Shorten’s trillions to achieve absolutely nothing at all.)

    I am so over the moon that Labor lost this election, and is likely to remain in the wilderness for another 6 years while they re-think. Better to have the LNP, despite their lack of judgement in certain areas, than a high-taxing, big spending, crony-socialist, Marxist-ridden, gender confused, vindictive and God-less government under Bill Shorten being advised by the ACTU and the Greens. In the words of David Leyonhjelm, “they can go and get stuffed”!!

  22. Until Trump came along, there seemed to be an operating standard that to win an election one had to pander to each minority in the hope that the aggregate minority votes would over one the natural majority. This was done by promises out of all proportion to their ‘entitlement’ but paid for by the natural majority being milked by the government which craved power. The sense of entitlement this engendered in minorities was breathtakingly offensive but for years power seekers have, been training proles to vote for benefits rather than work for them. Trump ignored them all and created a majority in the traditional way but as this has not been seen within living memory very few recognise it. I believe that sustained success lies in this direction and no other.
    Some on this blog have mused as to why the Feds have education departments without schools and health departments without hospitals and so on, but one looks at commonwealth power immediately post federation which consisted in none of these areas, obviously they had to muscle in on the state’s so they too could feed Pavlov’s dogs at election time. Also creates an economic class of public servants who are the modern day hole diggers and filler uppers which are a part of the Keynsian doctrine. Really is a pity that they want to leave their mark on policy when all they are is an instrument for the redistribution of wealth.

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