Many commentators made the mistake of assuming what is going on in the world today (with Trump, Brexit, Hanson, Wilders, Le Pen etc.) is a swing to the right because the right is the answer to everyone’s prayers. It is not a swing to the right, it is a swing away from politics as usual and ‘trickle-down economics’, which has given rise to the rapidly increasing disparity between rich and poor. The reason the right have been adept at vacuuming up so many votes from mainstream parties is that they have always been there, if in various disparate, often bigoted guises, otherwise spouting platitudes. They pander to bigots and religious nutters, but have views which, to their respective claques, seemed to indicate that they were concerned about the wellbeing of the populace. They were not, however, and Hanson’s party is a case in point. It has voted with the Coalition most of the time, the party from which it has vacuumed up most of its votes. The parties on the left were perceived to be mostly ‘single issue’ parties and it seemed that these parties were not so much concerned with economic policies as environmental policies. Also, they had been tarred as tree-huggers or socialists, or worst of all, commies. Many gullible Americans who supported Trump think there is no difference between liberals, socialists and communists (believe me, I have spoken to them). One of them was so out of touch with reality that he thought republic and democracy were antonyms. People like that have the vote.
The trumping of Wilders1 and Le Pen2,3, and Theresa May’s near-death experience in the UK election which she called to consolidate her power, all give the lie to this supposed worldwide drift to the right. Whether May’s near-fatal car-crash of an election was due mostly to the Trump example or to her reputation as ‘the submarine’, because she cannot be found when a difficult topic arises4, is still open to interpretation. One thing is certain, and that is Jeremy Corbyn understood the mood, particularly of younger people, and effectively jumped on that bandwagon, such that he came closer than many pundits expected to gaining government. To stay in power, May has had to go into some sort of loose coalition with the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party. This party seems to be one for the religious nutters as they have repeatedly vetoed same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, and some members have branded LGBT people as ‘disgusting’ and an ‘abomination’ and asserted that a child brought up in a household in which the parents are homosexual “is far more likely to be abused or neglected” (this is a lie). It also has supported Northern Ireland’s ban on abortions (for having one, women can be imprisoned). The party has also appointed a climate change denier as the Northern Ireland Environment Minister, and some senior members of the party are creationists. Clearly, the party is from the religious nutter end of the conservative spectrum. Whether the Conservative Party can stay attached, even loosely, to such a bunch of fruitcakes remains to be seen.
In Australia, the far right of the Liberal Party, miffed at the demise of their star idiot, Tony Abbott, in 2015, started meeting for lunch in the Monkey Pod room in Parliament House, with people like Abbott, Dutton, Sukkar, Seselja, Taylor, Kelly and Goodenough and, before they left Parliament, Griggs and Nikolic in attendance. This crowd was termed the ‘Monkey Pod Group’ by the media, after the timber used in the table occupying the room5. This group was the beginning of the resistance to the Turnbull ‘group’ who had organised the dumping of Abbott after his many laughable transgressions. The Monkey Pod group seems to have fragmented now, with the electoral demise of Griggs and the unpleasant Nikolic and the buying off of Dutton with a new blackshirt department (How long will it be before Dutton starts wearing a uniform, demanding to be called Il Duce?). Abbott is now simply running interference against Turnbull, largely on his own, believing that his only road to redemption, in his own bitter and twisted mind, is to somehow destroy Turnbull. Ideally he would want the Liberals to commit seppuku by re-electing him to be Prime Minister, but deep down he knows this is unlikely. The second best would be for the Liberals to commit seppuku by going to the next election with Turnbull as Prime Minister while Abbott snipes from the sidelines. The only way the Liberals can save themselves is to give Abbott a job he would dearly love, such as equerry to the Queen, or boxing coach at Oxford, his preferred High Commissioner position having been given away to George Brandis.
The right in Australia is an odd mixture of libertarians, religious nutters, economic bastards (Delcons), middle of the road conservatives and racist halfwits. It makes for interesting reading and televisual entertainment, and makes the more erudite of the general populace feel like geniuses by comparison.
The libertarians are people like Senator David Leyonhjelm who thinks everyone should have a gun, preferably a lever-action shotgun and that the nanny state is out of control (it isn’t)6. The religious nutters are people like Abbott, Abetz, Andrews and Bernardi who are obsessed with sex and cannot understand why people attracted to the same sex are not worthy of at least some form of discrimination, either by them or by people in cake-shops or churches. Many of the religious nutters are also delcons (delusional conservatives) who actually believe that: Abbott was not a disastrous Prime Minister; CEOs and senior managers are deserving of tax cuts; the poor should be screwed because they are lazy bastards; the middle classes should pay more tax because they don’t work hard enough; education should be for those who can afford it; health care should be for those who can afford it; climate change is a hoax; evolution is probably a hoax, and the planet is here for us to exploit, and the measure of a person’s worth is in how many dollars they have. The racist halfwits mostly belong to One Nation and believe that we are in danger of being swamped by Asians, or Muslims, or gay people, or possibly scientists, or maybe people who actually know things, rather than just believing they do. Lastly, occupying the ‘sensible middle’, are people like Turnbull, Frydenberg and Birmingham who realise that they are in government, but because they are surrounded by morons, can do little about it. The funny thing is that their economically ‘sensible middle’ comprises the trickle-down model, which has been shown not to work, and is now being superseded by a more socially oriented model. Their ‘sensible middle’, is now being shown to be the right wing nonsense that unionists have long maintained. This opinion is now being embraced by people such as the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney7, and Reserve Bank of Australia Governor, Philip Lowe8, who both understand that the trickle-down economic con has damaged nations by increasing inequality. Turnbull’s mob do not yet seem to have realised this, because the donations keep coming from large corporations.
So, the Conservatives in Australia are a fractious and fractured bunch, with those who actually have a modicum of understanding of economics, being held by the delcons in an economic model that is rapidly and rightly being abandoned, while those who do not understand economics simply railing against people who either know more than they do or are a bit browner. It will be fun to watch as these anachronistic buffoons tear themselves apart.