ACRIMONY has greeted moves by Victorian Liberal president Michael Kroger to seek preference deals with the Greens; it is not credible to oppose the idea by saying Labor is the lesser evil: it is an economic vandal, addicted to fuelling recurrent spending with high debt and taxes, and obsessed with chasing the hard Left vote. Easily as bad as each other, anything Kroger can do to play the Greens off against Labor to advantage the Coalition is laudable.
For long-term readers of this column, I offer the assurance that I haven’t taken leave of my senses, and nor am I softening in my trenchant distaste for the party I routinely characterise either as Communists — which is what they are — or as socialist filth, in a reflection of my contempt for them.
And for the benefit of those who are newer to this forum, in the runup to the 2013 federal election this column exhorted voters to preference the Greens out of existence in the national interest; this closely followed a piece recommending that people should vote Liberal or Labor per their preference, but to avoid the Greens at all costs; more recently, the possibilities of tactical preferencing have grown more appealing, and with Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger copping undeserved flak over his plan to recommend preferencing the Greens above Labor in some of their target seats in return for open tickets in a selection of Liberal targets, I wanted to publish on this subject once again.
The trigger for my remarks today has been an article appearing in the Weekend Australian, which details the apparent move by Liberal Party advisers to circumvent the members’ elected president in Victoria and overturn his preference plan, to which I can only stress that Kroger is the servant of the members — and that the advisers are largely unaccountable employees with no right to do anything of the kind.
But before we progress further, let’s spend some time assessing exactly how the ALP and the Greens are constituted these days.
The stereotype of average Greens voters — broccoli-munching vegan gnomes singing kum-ba-ya, cycling barefoot through their compost-powered homes and proudly boasting their hearts bleed for asylum seekers arriving by boat who are trying to illegitimately jump the queue — sits at odds with the platform of the party itself, which (and this is an old story) is anti-family, anti-industry, anti-agriculture, anti-mining, anti-business, anti-enterprise, anti-car, high tax, open border, anti-democracy, anti-Australia, anti-America, anti-Israel, pro-CND, militarily pacifist, illiberal, statist, doctrinally socialist, and resolutely committed to the de-industrialisation of Western society and to the destruction of the values that built and sustained it in the first place.
In other words, the Greens have developed into the public menace they represent through the exploitation of compassion-babbling Chardonnay drunks who are stupid enough to believe they are working to build some kind of socialist utopia on Earth through their support: and in my view, a useful idiot is a more valuable commodity than one who is simply an idiot and no more, and this underpins the change in my assessment of the Greens’ fitness for purpose — but not of the party, or the insidious agenda it represents.
These bleeding-hearted, compassion-babbling bullshit artists and so-called SJWs — now steeled by what they think is a ticket to Nirvana on a vessel with more in common with the USSR than the land of Oz — used to be called something else: the left wing of the Labor Party.
Over the past quarter of a century (and especially in the past 15 years), Labor has haemorrhaged more and more of what was once the support on its left flank to the point it is no longer capable of winning elections on its own without torrential flows of Greens preferences or even — as has now happened once federally and twice in Tasmania — formal power-sharing and Coalition agreements with the so-called environmentalist party of the certifiably lunatic hard Left.
Yet in response, the ALP has — like a spurned adolescent youth chasing haplessly and hopelessly after the first girl he ever went to bed with — given chase after the former constituency spirited away by the Greens by repositioning itself further and further to the Left, as if by eschewing its mainstream base and masquerading as hardened pinkos, the lunatic Left might re-embrace its sometime flame and live together happily ever after once more.
Carbon taxes: not one now, but two, as if such a ridiculous act of economy-killing overreach might impress the socialist maiden who spurned it.
Unreasoning and unreasonable renewable energy targets of 50% — certain to cripple Australia’s economy — that put even the nutty aspirations of the Greens themselves into the shade.
An aspiration to abolish the private health insurance rebate: long hidden from view, of course, but an early initiative of the present ALP “leadership” designed to tip the balance away from the private sector and toward the state.
Everyone knows the ALP doesn’t really believe in the Coalition’s tough border policies — irrespective of Labor’s “commitment” to them — and everyone knows that that “commitment” is bitterly opposed by more than a handful of Labor MPs, and by perhaps an overwhelming majority of the ALP rank and file.
The outbreak of defiance and dissent over the issue that hit Labor’s campaign this week is proof of it.
On asylum seekers and border protection, the Labor head knows that an untrammelled influx of asylum seekers, replete with hundreds of deaths at sea, is electoral cyanide; the Labor heart, however, beats very closely with that of the Greens, which is ruled by the conviction that Australian taxpayers should fund whatever expense is incurred by throwing open the country’s borders.
These are but a few of the crossovers between the Greens and the ALP; there are plenty of others.
But as time has passed in recent years, the Labor copybook has grown increasingly blotted with other stains that mark the party out as equally unfit to ever hold office as the Greens.
These stains also round out the process of qualifying the ALP to jointly share equal billing in terms of just who the Coalition’s ultimate political adversary is: it’s no longer an automatic case of just putting Labor last.
It was Labor which was responsible for the moral and social abomination that is the so-called Safe Schools program, which those inside the tent freely admit has nothing to do with stopping bullying but everything to do with destroying traditional social values, with its emphasis on indoctrinating primary school children about alternative forms of sexual contact, “gender fluidity,” and the merits of leading deviant sexual lifestyles.
It was Labor that made a naked and unapologetic attempt at media regulation and censorship in its last period in office, seeking to legislate to enable the neutering of those organs of the press that opposed it: a measure cheered by the usual suspects at Fairfax and the ABC, but advocating only for the contraction of the diversity it champions whenever convenient to it, and happy to wipe out a large component of the traditional position of scrutiny the press sector performs.
It was Labor — in slashing military spending to divert money to foreign aid and other social schemes so beloved of the politically correct Left — which allowed Australia’s defences to run down to the point this country would be virtually defenceless in any medium-level conflict it found itself engaged in, the prospect of US assistance notwithstanding.
It was Labor which, in the last term of the Keating government, left $100bn in debt behind as it shovelled out largesse to the arts community, to ATSIC, to a plethora of social minorities to purchase and seal their allegiance, and to any other rent seeker offering votes in return; it followed this up with a record of economic vandalism that would make Jim Cairns blush, leaving behind $300bn in debt and the legislated but unfunded recurrent expenditure of hundreds of billions more; and it now seeks office with a slate of big-spending social programs, backed by a regime of tax rises totalling a purported $102bn, which leading economists have already indicated will fall far short of its expected yield.
And it was Labor — in cahoots with the Greens and the odious Clive Palmer — which spent three years marshalling the numbers in the Senate to attempt to destroy an elected government by making the Parliament unworkable to the Coalition.
Fellow conservatives, in all seriousness — can you really say Labor is the lesser of the two evils? The ALP and the Greens are now every bit as bad as each other.
When Kroger first outlined his plan last year to deal with the Greens on preferences — exchanging preference recommendations on Liberal how-to-vote cards in selected seats in return for the Greens issuing open tickets in others — I was ambivalent; the Greens really are evil, with their hardened socialism masquerading sickeningly as tree-hugging harmlessness. But possessed of a strategic bent and having considered the notion at length, I think it’s high time the Liberals started playing the preference game just as its opponents have always done.
The ABC’s election analyst Antony Green — publishing on his blog yesterday on this subject — makes the point that allocating preferences to the Greens on a seat-by-seat basis requires the Liberal Party to make preference recommendations based on strategy rather than ideology: something he points out (and which I acknowledge) some in the party are extremely resistant to doing.
Yet the ALP has always preferenced based on self-interest: one of the reasons for the lengthy analysis of the Greens and the ALP in this article is to illustrate that even on ideological grounds, Labor today is no better — and should be regarded as such in Liberal eyes — than the Greens.
Labor has spent years fuelling friction at three-cornered contests for vacant Coalition seats by generally allocating preferences to whichever of the Liberal and National Parties is not incumbent: hardly the basis for kind treatment of the ALP in return, as the growing siege it faces in some of its seats from the Greens gathers pace.
It was complicit in Tony Windsor’s election to the seat of New England in 2001, complicit in keeping him there for 12 years, and is now readying to help him reclaim it at the expense of deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce with a solid bloc of preference votes.
It was not only complicit in the election of Clive Palmer — at tremendous cost to both his own community and to the national interest — to the safe Liberal seat of Fairfax, but delivered the decisive bloc of preferences to take the seat from the Coalition.
There are other examples I could cite, of course, but the point is that in all of these cases the only principle involved was to weaken the Coalition as far as possible: and in drawing preference strategies at this election, the equivalent Coalition principle must be to weaken the Left commensurately.
If we take five electorates — Melbourne, Batman, Wills, Grayndler and Sydney — at present, all five are held by the Left in a 4-1 split in Labor’s favour.
If the Liberal Party recommends the Greens be preferenced ahead of the ALP in all five, it would guarantee the re-election of Adam Bandt in Melbourne, but potentially transfer at least some of those Labor seats across to the Greens.
Has the Left been strengthened in this process? Absolutely not.
Can the Greens be satisfied with such an outcome? Absolutely.
And were the Greens to issue open tickets in five marginal seats either currently held by the Liberals or targeted by them — we’ll call them Corangamite, Deakin, Chisholm, Melbourne Ports and Bruce — the likely reduction in preference flows to Labor from their usual 80-20 split to a level in the order of 60-40 could well make the difference in the Liberals holding Corangamite and Deakin, and picking up some or all of the other three.
Has the Liberal Party gained something? Absolutely.
And where this plays out is when down the track — perhaps even on 2 July — the ALP and the Greens collectively win 76 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.
From a strategic perspective, what would be better for the Coalition — a 75-1 split in Labor’s favour, giving it the whip hand, or something in the order of 72-4 and shackling it to the insanity and ambit demands of lunar fringe socialists?
Remember, ideologically, Labor is no better than the Greens nowadays: it wasn’t always so, of course, but today it’s a fact.
And as Kroger himself noted recently at a meeting I attended with him, anything that might trigger a fight among the Liberal Party’s enemies is no bad thing.
The Liberal advisers — who continue to do things the way they have always done them, and who as a group have consequently engineered the relative decline of the party across Australia from its Howard-era heyday — would do well to heed the insight and strategic bent of the Victorian chief.
Those in the party’s branches who genuinely continue to believe the ALP is the lesser of two evils should reacquaint themselves with the modern Left and take note of its contemporary methods and “principles:” and this means accepting that Labor is no better now than the Greens ever were.
Those members who say they can’t support preference deals with the Greens on “principle” must reflect that if the principle that moderate conservative governance is infinitely better than anything dished up by the hard Left is valid, then there’s no conflict of principle for them to even reconcile themselves to.
If the Liberal Party is to progress as a truly professional and effective political outfit, the evolution of it personnel, its methods and its strategic bent (such as it is these days) must evolve to recognise that when it comes to the raw politics of elections, the party has been comprehensively outclassed now, on balance, for many years.
And this brings me back to the broccoli-munching gnomes who probably mean well, but who are mostly the unwitting instruments of the slow march of the Left into illiberalism, hard socialism, and the eventual dismantling of the liberal democratic institutions we are so lucky to enjoy in free Australia: freedom that can easily be undone in even short bursts of governance by the Left, as the Gillard government neatly proved.
A seat-by-seat appraisal of all 150 lower house seats by the Liberal Party — identifying which of the Greens and Labor is likelier to unsettle the cohesion of the Left if victorious, and directing Liberal preferences to that party — is now a no-brainer, when even a few years ago it would and should have been avoided like the plague.
If there are to be idiots voting for the Greens at all, they may as well be useful idiots: and if the recommendation that broccoli munchers and Chardonnay drunks put the Coalition ahead of Labor weakens the balance of the Left and/or gains the Liberal Party even a single seat, the exercise will have been well worth it.
All power to your arm, Mr Kroger.