Features Australia

The fracturing of the Right

There’s a new politics in town

5 February 2022

9:00 AM

5 February 2022

9:00 AM

Most readers over fifty will have noticed that the political divisions or splits of their youth have shifted. Many of the generalisations you could make back then about which groups were likely to vote Right and which Left are no longer true. Take this most obvious one – rich people (I generalise, in a probabilistic sense) voted Right. Not today though. The richest 100 counties in the 2016 US election all voted for Clinton. That was virtually true too in 2020. Boris in Britain did not win the wealthy vote; those were people who were Remainers who would have walked over broken glass (maybe even eaten it) to stop the Tories from winning. Justin Trudeau in Canada sweeps the big-city wealthy vote. And although Australia’s lower house preferential voting system has slowed this trend, it is partly here and will keep coming. (Sidenote: Virtually unique in the world, our preferential voting system is used in only one other tiny South Pacific jurisdiction. I thought it was great when I first got here in 2005 but have since changed my mind as I’ve come to realise it works as a protection racket for the two main parties, and means that each party’s base can effectively be disenfranchised by its own MPs in a way that Britain’s and the US’s first-past-the-post system makes considerably harder. Just look at how the Coalition treats its conservative supporters).

Maybe so many of the rich have shifted left because they can afford to virtue-signal, to trumpet their supposed moral credentials on green or woke policies. They know they can afford their hefty costs. Who knows? What I will confidently predict is that in the near future the Libs won’t win inner-city seats, as right-wing parties now overwhelmingly do not in the rest of the Anglosphere.

At a lower level, think about lawyers. Forty or fifty years ago, as a caste, lawyers voted right. The median lawyer’s political views were to the right of the median voter’s.  Today the median lawyer’s views are far, far to the left of the median voter’s – lawyers are massively more woke, more in thrall to the latest HR fad and social justice worldview, unbelievably keener on judges being able to over-rule and gainsay the legislatures and make social policy from the Bench, more in favour of an international law that hasn’t got a democratic bone in its elitist body, and so on. And these are the people from whom our judges are chosen. Remember that! Same goes for the political leanings of the doctorly caste. And if the publicly available ‘donations to political parties’ data from the US is anything to go by, journalists as a caste or class may be the most left-wing of all these groups. Maybe that’s in part because fifty years ago they learned as apprentices, on the job, while today they go through university journalism degrees, aka a hard-left, group-think indoctrination program. (Query: Why is it that right-wing governments do absolutely nothing about the universities, places where conservative professors like me are fast becoming endangered species? Eight years of Coalition governments funding all the unis and things are far worse than back in 2013. No one ever asks any of us conservative academics what we’d do, but I promise you we have more than a few ideas.) Whatever the causes, journalists as a caste today lean left so much that a disinterested Martian would give dollops of credence to some of Donald Trump’s attacks on the legacy media. (Sidenote 2:  Here’s an oddity. The political donations data in the US shows political journalists give to Democrats over Republicans upwards of 12 or 15:1. But sports reporters are far worse, upwards of 27:1. Why, you might ask, in a world of woke, lefty journalists, would those covering sports be the worst of the lot? Remember, the main consumers of sports journalism are, as a generalisation, the most politically conservative readers or watchers of all. They’re middle-aged men from the middle and lower-middle classes. They vote conservative. The journalists servicing sports appear not to share any core foundational worldview or political sympathies with their customers. Heck, as a keen sports follower myself, I’ve sometimes asked myself if many sports journalists even like sports, so keen are they on the woke, virtue-signalling, critical race theory garbage, ‘is there any chance we can take a knee about something, chaps?’ side of things.)

The flip side of all of this is that the working class, and especially men but by no means only men (remember, Donald Trump won the married women’s vote in both elections, it is single women who lean left), vote right. No way was that true when I was a kid.

That is a long-winded way of saying that the political world has realigned in the Anglosphere and probably beyond it across the democratic world. Conservatives can win and form big governing coalitions, but not the same sort of coalitions as in the past. In fact, and say this sotto voce and only in non-polite company, it is precisely the coalition of voters that Donald Trump assembled and that the establishment wing of the Republican party hated so much. It is the one that Boris Johnson, somewhat inadvertently due to Brexit, forged in 2019. Forget the rich. Forget the public service voters. It’s the outer suburbs and beyond; it’s the middle classes who aren’t woke, who detest quotas and affirmative action, who don’t buy all the virtue-signalling around net zero, preferring low electricity prices, and who think – rightly – they live in one of the world’s most tolerant countries with a past overwhelmingly to be proud of, not disparage as implicitly worse than some Middle East dictatorship.

And a core implication or consequence of that realignment is that we will soon see a fracturing of the big tent coalitions that make up our two main parties. On the right, the Coalition will lose if it tries to cater to inner-city, woke greenies. It will lose if it continues to abandon freedom-related issues (and if there is a top politician on the right anywhere in the world with less interest in freedom-related concerns than Scott Morrison I don’t know who it is). Part of this new deal on the Right will involve a bit of compromise of course. The old comparative advantage free-traders (and I was one of them) will have to realise workers are not the easily shiftable cogs of theory who can be retrained from coal miners to IT code writers. And most of all, the right side of politics in this new realignment will have to stop the flood of cheap labour – mass immigration – into the country. It is never true when the rich mindlessly say ‘Australians won’t do those jobs’. What is true is that they won’t do them for the wages being offered. So let the market work. Pay what the market demands. And stop running the biggest Ponzi immigration scheme the world has ever seen, so you can say to the stupid ‘Hey look, our GDP goes up every year’ (without mentioning, or having the press mention, that GDP growth per person sucks and is no better than no-immigration Japan’s and that GDP itself is a rather worthless Keynesian measure anyway). That’s conservative politics in the not too distant future.

Or that’s my bet.

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