Features Australia

Conservatives and cojones

Peter Dutton must make the ‘right’ choice

30 July 2022

9:00 AM

30 July 2022

9:00 AM

I have come to the conclusion that the most important quality needed in right-of-centre politicians in today’s Anglosphere is bravery. This is a corollary of recognising that my side of politics has lost almost all the key institutions. The universities.The legacy media where the ABC is the worst of all but let’s be honest, the terrestrial TV channels, the Fairfax press and the Guardian give Ultimo a run for its money. Then there is the monolithically left-leaning public service. And don’t forget the uber-wealthy and big business. When was it exactly that HR departments became the power centre of big corporations, imposing every sort of woke orthodoxy on firms whose proper job, only job, is to increase shareholder value? Do I need to mention Big Tech? You get the idea. These are not institutions that have any time for conservative viewpoints and would happily cancel or suppress such views if the costs weren’t too high.

So, in that world, voters like me want bravery. It is the single most important quality of any right-of-centre politician, but also important in business leaders, lawyers, judges (another centre of lefty wokedom), the upper levels of the churches, the list goes on.

Now sure, brains would be nice. But the truth is, as former US Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia was wont to say, brains are a commodity. Really smart people are a dime a dozen. That doesn’t stop them from being some of the most censorious, sheep-like, incurious, cowardly people.

All of the above tells readers precisely why Donald Trump was, and is, so popular in the US. I know many ‘respectable’ types, even on the right, don’t see his appeal but it is precisely his bravery. He set out his manifesto and after being elected set out to do exactly what he’d promised regardless of the myriad attacks on him. Who else would have moved the US embassy to Jerusalem? Name one other conservative politician in the English-speaking, rich world who would have stood by Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh when three-decade old sexual impropriety allegations, with no corroboration, never before alleged, and on their face implausible, were trotted out? Go on. Try to name one.

Scott Morrison would have pronounced Kavanaugh ‘guilty’ and issued an apology before the week was out. If you think I undersell Mr. Morrison’s commitment to the presumption of innocence then think Christian Porter, think SAS soldiers, think Ms Holgate, think the Brittany Higgins accused, think Dyson Heydon, and try not to laugh.

Trump also pushed ahead with the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett when virtually all other Republicans would have caved in to the Democrats demanding he abandon her. And just think of the unbelievable attacks on Trump and his family. Most conservative politicians, understandably in some cases, will fold in the face of that onslaught. The boorish, crass, self-important Mr Trump did not, even when the Democrats engineered two-plus years of a Russia-collusion hoax that on any impartial scale looks far worse than Watergate.

I want that sort of bravery. Are you reading this, Mr. Dutton? Can you take these sorts of attacks, or do you prefer being loved, ever so temporarily, by the ABC, the public service, and the big business wokesters?

Or consider Boris Johnson. This is a man who wrote a book about, and loves, Winston Churchill. This is a man who had to fight two-thirds of his own Tory party to deliver a three-quarters Brexit. He was almost as hated in London as Mr. Trump in Washington. Yet when the true test came, Boris went weak at the knees. His hero, Mr. Churchill, was prepared to stand against all polite company, the BBC, the majority in his own party. Boris knew all that. So when the moment came to be brave, I thought there was a chance Boris would stand up to the public health clerisy, the modellers at Imperial College, the public service head honchos, most of those in his own cabinet – in short all the pro-lockdown types who bore none of its costs – and say, ‘No, we are not locking down; we’re going the Swedish route.’ From what one reads, Boris never wanted to lock down. But he caved in. He went weak at the knees. Had he followed the Swedes, the data would today show him to be wholly correct. And remember, it is precisely in times of great uncertainty when one’s core values and principles (did Mr. Morrison have any?) ought to guide the decision-making. ‘We don’t weld people into their homes, and we don’t ruin people’s lives when there’s a century of data saying not to, not until this is clearly equivalent to the Black Death’. Had Boris taken that principled position, a few stupid ten-minute parties here and there could never have seen him driven from office. Cometh the moment, and Boris folded like a wet noodle (though he did end lockdowns faster than almost any other politician).

Well, we’re seeing all sorts of brave politicians in the US now. Governor DeSantis is one of the stars. During the pandemic the man stood up to the entire public health caste, learned the data, took daily hostile press briefings, and governed bravely, based on principles, not locking down or imposing mask or vaccine mandates. With an older state population, Florida has outperformed California, New York and most of the big states. He also faced down the Disney Corporation over its objection to a law banning sex education to children in kindergarten and grades one and two. (You wouldn’t think a big corporation would choose to die on that particular hill, but such is today’s corporate wokeness that it did and has.) This has made DeSantis a certainty to win the gubernatorial Florida race in three months.

In Canada, look at the frontrunner to be leader of the opposition Conservative party. Pierre Poilievre has committed to taking one brave stand after another – he is going to cut CBC funding; sack the Reserve Bank board; unlock oil and gas exploration; end the carbon tax; oh, and he loudly supported the truckers. His popularity among the party membership, who will decide the leader, is sky high. If he does half of what he promises he’ll put the Australian Coalition to shame.

So, think about this Mr Dutton and choose. Either be brave. (I’m betting on a Republican president in the US in 2024, so hasta la vista net-zero folly.) Or be pusillanimous. (Any bets on how that plays out in NSW next year?)

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