New Poll: Change Coming To The Red And The Blue

NOTHING LASTS FOREVER: today I advise readers that this column will soon change; since 2011, we’ve endorsed, analysed, criticised or blasted — in equal measure, with neither side of politics spared — and periodically, we’ve looked beyond Australia or past real politics. Just as “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans,” sometimes it happens when you’re making plans to shape it. In this sense, my column must change too.

I should be saying “12 down, 18 to go” (and it is) — for the Newspoll appearing in The Australian today shows that despite a high taxing, high spending budget that sells out to the bullshit Bill Shorten has spent three and a half years force-feeding the Australian public on, Malcolm Turnbull still can’t take a trick — but in reality, my post this morning is to share with readers the fact that my column at The Red And The Blue will…change…effective immediately.

There is change in the air, and it should be construed as change in a good way; I have always been extremely vague about what I do for a crust with readers, and I don’t propose to alter that policy of circumspection now.

But a redirection of focus in other areas of my life means that some elements of what I have traditionally presented in this column — direct, fearless and unforgiving analysis and criticism, be it of the Left, the Right, the lunatic fringe or the downright ridiculous — will shortly become a conflict, and as such, what is covered here will be adjusted as a result.

I will, in the short term, comment (as time permits) on the imminent election in the United Kingdom, where the Conservative Party under Theresa May is almost certain to record its biggest victory over Labour since 1935: it is, to be sure, the type of electoral contest over pure evil, given IRA-worshipping radical socialist filth like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell entertain pretensions of suitability to govern one of the greatest democratic countries in the world, whose probable outcome warms me to the very fibre of my being.

I will continue to post periodically in this column on issues — particularly of a psephological nature — that I am passionate about; parliamentary and electoral reform, for one thing, when the present system, evolved and fiddled mostly by Labor governments for decades, can hardly be described as either representative or particularly democratic.

And every so often, I’m sure something will happen outside of (but adjacent to) actual politics that will warrant comment: in the time we have been here, we’ve talked about the “St Kilda Schoolgirl,” Qantas, Kyle Sandilands, Muslim riots in Sydney — sometimes with unforeseen (and laughable) after-effects — and it may be possible to sporadically do so.

On a personal level, I have spent five years — ever since enduring a week on my back in 2012 in Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital with pancreatitis, a few months shy of my 40th birthday — just about killing myself to bring about fundamental changes of direction in my life, and that process, ongoing as it is (including a university graduation in five months’ time that will be a quarter of a century overdue) is finally producing the results I knew at the outset would take time to realise.

I would love to tell you what I think of last week’s federal budget; I know some readers were bitterly disappointed when I failed to publish comment.

I would love to tell you what I think of this morning’s Newspoll, although it probably doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots — not least on account of my remarks on the other 11 of the 12 down to date en route to a potential 30, so to speak.

But those assessments (welcome as they are, I am assured) will soon become confidential in-house advice in another place, and as such, I will no longer be publishing on the day-to-day minutiae of Australian federal politics, despite the hawk-like attention I have always paid to these goings-on (and will continue to do), and the analyses of them that I have been happy to share with readers.

There is a silver lining: a bit of a “writing addict” since I was a kid, I tried (twice) in the last 18 months to launch a second column focused on life, love, happiness and health — just a conversation space for stuff that happens every day that’s worth remark, or a story to tell (often from inane and arcane origins), and a dedicated retro segment for times past — and this change of focus means I’ll probably redirect my limited spare time in that direction fairly soon. I hope readers of this column, who have enjoyed (or been infuriated by) my thoughts in this column, will give me a go in the other.

And I will be back within a few weeks — British elections aside — to provide a final wrap.

But today’s post is to signal a change that I think some may have already guessed: after 1,272 articles, six years, some unlikely forecasts that I’m proud to say were bang on the money and an awful lot of controversy in places nobody expected blunt analysis to penetrate, this column is winding down.

I will be leaving the column live, and at some point down the track, it may resume, but that’s a question for another time.

For now, I thank readers who have supported me for a long time, and ask that you stick around just a little longer: I’m not quite signing off, and before I do, there are still a few things we are going to cover.

Those who wish to can follow me on Twitter @theredandblue: that presence will continue, and I hope the many of you who don’t currently use Twitter will rethink your aversion. It is an excellent social media tool — once you get to know how to use it properly.

It’s also a way people can contact me if they wish to.

And any comments posted on this website — even after I cease regular posts — will still be seen and reviewed.

John Lennon — a great, if improbably anarchic, influence on my life — once opined that life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans: seldom has a truer word been spoken.

But equally, sometimes life “happens” as a direct result of the plans you make to shape it, and it is this kind of change that informs my post today: in some respects, having published this column for six years, and received many thousands of comments (and made friends and professional associations from it) it’s a little traumatic to contemplate putting it in the deep freeze for a time, save for occasional outbursts on turf that is neutral in a partisan sense.

Yet I am moving in a predictable, if perhaps slightly unexpected, direction; and whilst this means an end to what was once a daily conversation that has become weekly under time constraints, it is a colossal step along the strategic path I mapped out from my hospital bed at the Alfred in April 2012.

So, there it is: should this change — well, change — I assure readers they will be the first to know; but in the final analysis, this is the early warning that we’re on borrowed time now, this time around at least.

I’ll be back later in the week, probably to talk about the UK. See you all then.

 

French Election: Macron “Landslide” Masks Growing Revolt

THE ELECTION of 39-year-old centrist neophyte Emmanuel Macron as President of France raises more problems than it will solve, and almost guarantees the continued growth in support for the far-Right Front National led by Marine Le Pen; Macron’s victory — whilst ostensibly convincing — portends ongoing instability whilst a reasonable slate of economic-based policies misses the point. A boilover, five years hence, is a virtual certainty.

About the nicest thing I can find to say of socialists who win elections in Western countries at the moment — or even, as in this case, those who call themselves “centrists” — is that their greatest impact is almost invariably to speed the election of their opponents, and to hasten the decline of their parties; today’s news is a little different, for France’s new President is yet to be tested on any meaningful level, and is yet to translate his support into a party structure at all, let alone kill it off on account of his actions.

But the news that “centrist” Emmanuel Macron has been elected overnight as President of France’s Fifth Republic is unremarkable, despite the 2:1 split of votes in his favour; newspaper reports crowing that Macron’s victory was the “second-largest win since 1965” ignore the fact that the largest was recorded by Jacques Chirac over the far-Right Front National’s Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002, and that yesterday’s triumph was over the same far-Right organisation, led by Le Pen’s daughter, which nevertheless doubled its support based on the 2002 result.

I’m not what one would ordinarily characterise as a supporter of the Front National, but quite literally — if forced to choose between Macron and Marine Le Pen — the latter would be preferable, even if a peg was required to secure my nose before making such a judgement.

First things first: readers may wish to peruse reports of the French election from other press sources here and here; I am also including a comment piece tonight from Robert Gottliebsen, for the itinerary of Macron policies it details are in fact a double-edged sword in terms of the new President’s likely impact — and his political fortunes henceforth.

But like Justin Trudeau in Canada — a barely reconstructed warrior of the illiberal Left who is, in any case, making a fine botch of his job — Macron arrives at the Élysée Palace with no appreciable political experience; briefly a minister under the outgoing Socialist regime, it is arguable the new President has fashioned himself as a “centrist” for no better reason than to run out on his old mates at the Socialist Party, and to distance himself from the wreckage of the presidency of Francois Holland for personal political advancement.

Even the lamentable Trudeau stands innocent of such a charge of political bastardry.

Macron will quickly find — especially if the centre-Right Les Républicains seize control of France’s National Assembly, as seems probable — that glib lines and a facile (if photogenic) media facade are poor armaments with which to fight the very real problems France faces as it marches toward the 20s: the high levels of immigration under the EU’s “freedom of movement” charter that, in turn, are fuelling social unrest and dislocation; resentment among the indigenous population toward France’s burgeoning Muslim population; the ongoing (and seemingly permanent) spectre of terrorist attacks; and growing hostility toward Brussels, as the anti-EU sentiment that led to Brexit in the UK gestates and develops across much of the continental mainland beyond Germany.

On one interpretation, scoring 65% of the vote in a two-candidate runoff is a landslide by any measure.

Yet the 35% scored by Le Pen, against a candidate untarnished by the scandals and controversy that dogged Chirac through much of his tenure, shows that not only has the Front National doubled its support in the 15 years since it last reached a runoff, but suggests its potential vote may even have been depressed by the resolute refusal of all other parties to endorse Le Pen against Macron — even those on the Right and/or of a similar anti-EU bent.

During the campaign, Le Pen suggested that France would be run by a woman irrespective of the election result: either herself, or German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It was a powerful line, and one that will resonate strongly in the years ahead should Macron falter, or fail to deliver as Hollande did, or if he is seen to be little more than the tail on Germany’s dog.*

The policies Macron has been elected upon — as detailed by Gottliebsen — are, in themselves, innocuous enough.

But the bulk of this program — tax cuts, strongly enforced borders, a smaller public service, reduced social security contributions (read: superannuation), and a raft of pro-business measures — would comfortably form the platform of a centre-Right government in most Western countries.

The problem is that most, if not all of it, is unlikely to ever be implemented: Macron’s old chums on the Left are likely to be disinclined to make a success of him, and his would-be mates on the Right (should they prevail in elections later this month for the National Assembly) are likely to want far stronger measures than Macron is prepared to offer.

One of the problems with standing as President in France without a political party (let alone one to hijack, as some claim Donald Trump did in the USA) is that if successful, one ends up with no power base at all: and if candidates from Macron’s En Marche! movement fail to make huge inroads, his presidency will be doomed before it even starts.

Such is the predicament of a 39-year-old kid with delusions of adequacy: the child President in difficult times, in a hostile and fast-evolving geopolitical landscape, is odds-on to deliver an absolute debacle.

Anyone who stands for office with failed socialist Barack Obama cheering from one corner, and unelectable megalomaniac Hillary Clinton cheering from the other, hardly constitutes an ideal candidate for anything.

But all of this aside, it is France’s social problems — not its economy, which Macron’s policies are squarely aimed at — that will form his greatest challenge, and his failure to offer more to address these speaks to an appalling naivety at best, or a culpable dereliction of responsibility at worst.

Echoes of the idiot-simple Obama creed of seeing the good in people, and focusing on the virtues of potential and achievement and striving for success, are simply not good enough in a country that at times has appeared primed to explode.

To the outside observer, France has become a powderkeg; unable to cope with the social stresses of integrating massive numbers of immigrants, and unable to resolve the dislocation and simmering tensions those who have already arrived have sparked, Macron’s is likely to simply be the latest in a procession of French administrations — from both the Left and the Right — that have, through reprehensible ineptitude on social policy, hastened the decline of France as a society, a state, and as a power.

Ongoing interference from the EU — especially if Britain is seen to exit the union on terms favourable to itself, and with minimal domestic fallout — can only spur the anti-EU sentiment that is already bubbling within the French population. If Merkel is seen to run France, as Le Pen suggests, the moderate undercurrent of demand for a “Frexit” will become a stampede.

All of this points to ongoing growth in the support the Front National is able to command: and in five years’ time Le Pen, who hasn’t been as badly beaten this week as a cursory inspection of the margin might suggest, will almost certainly stand again.

At that point, all bets would be off. If I were inclined to wager a tenner, though, I’d expect her to win: whilst we wish Macron well and hope he succeeds, the overwhelming likelihood is that he won’t.

If and when he doesn’t, France will turn Right. The question is how much damage the country will sustain in the five years before its next opportunity to elect its monarch.

 

*No implication that Merkel is a dog is intended. I am simply using the old “tail wagging the dog” analogy.

“Free Speech Award” For Gillian Triggs Is Obscene

WHENEVER the degree to which the Left has debased and shamed public discourse in Australia is in doubt, one need look no further for qualification than Human Rights bureaucrat Gillian Triggs; hot on the heels of lamenting her inability to control debate in private homes, Triggs is again basking in infamy, this time as the recipient of an award for her “fearless pursuit” of the right to free speech. The only such pursuit she has ever given is to kill it.

One one level, I’m amazed we’re even talking about this: the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs — a hyper-partisan socialist warrior who has arguably done more than any other public servant in recent Australian history to stymie free speech and distort public debate — has, incredibly, been feted with what ordinarily would be a prestigious award for “her courageous stand on people’s rights, especially free speech.”

But on another, public discourse in this country has been so shamed and debased by the insidious slither of the Left through its institutions — with the supposed conservatives currently holding office apparently unwilling and/or unable to stop it — that it ought to surprise nobody that not only is such an ideological menace able to freely embark on crusades against opponents at public expense, but that she should be lauded for it to boot.

The Australian is reporting that Liberty Victoria has gifted Triggs its Voltaire Award for “her fearless work in pursuit of people’s rights, and her courage and persistence under extraordinary pressure,” to which I can only remark that the courage of a pea-heart and the persistence enabled by a stipend of several hundred thousand dollars of misspent taxpayers’ money each year must place Triggs under great “pressure” indeed when it comes to spreading her abhorrent version of tolerance, fairness, and the advocacy of human rights.

This is the second time in a week we have spoken about free speech in this column; last week, of course, it was the tasteless and tactless antics of ABC darling Yassmin Abdel-Magied that occupied our attention, and I made the observation at the time that those in positions to influence such things ought to think long and hard about what kind of national “celebrities” they are creating.

I could just as easily make the same observation today.

Yet I also made reference in that article to Triggs, for early this year — in remarks that should strike fear into anyone flatly opposed to the notion of the Big State and its ability to regulate what its citizens think, and do, and say — the Human Rights Commission chief made headlines with a wailing complaint to decry the inability of the state to control the “free speech” that occurred around the kitchen table in ordinary family homes.

Almost as if on cue, here we are again: only this time, a prominent civil liberties body has chosen to fete Triggs for the very thing nobody with an IQ count in double figures would ever ascribe to her — being a fearless champion of entrenching and expanding the right to free speech in Australia.

This is a bureaucrat who has allowed the Human Rights Commission to be shanghaied for political advocacy purposes and used to prosecute partisan witch-hunts and sham inquisitions under S18c of the Racial Discrimination Act — often without basis or sufficient evidence to justify it — of which the notorious case against three QUT students, for the ostensible crime of disputing the exclusive allocation of university ICT resources to Aborigines, is but one example.

This is a bureaucrat who sat on a report into the detention of the children of asylum seekers during the Gillard and Rudd governments until after Labor lost an election, waited until more than 90% of those kids had been processed and released on the Coalition’s watch, and then tabled a politically biased report aimed squarely at damaging the Abbott government whilst making scant criticism of the role played by the ALP.

And whilst I am pressed for time this morning and must keep my remarks brief (for the list of examples I could cite is endless), the culture whereby “free speech” is enjoyed by anyone spouting the filthy babble of socialists and the broader Left, whilst anyone else must be slapped down, silenced and/or prosecuted “in the national interest,” is one that has been actively promoted by Professor Triggs and her QANGO with great enthusiasm and vigour. There is nothing laudable or worthwhile to be gained from such a vicious and divisive misappropriation of her brief.

The only pursuit of free speech Gillian Triggs has ever given is to aim to kill it: to advance precisely the warped, jaundiced and ideologically slanted culture that sadly infects almost every aspect of public debate and discourse in Australia. People might or might not have the right to be bigots — to paraphrase the poorly enunciated point of Attorney-General George Brandis — but they do have the right to be heard. Certainly, where hate or evil is propounded, it is entirely reasonable to shout it down.

But to control what people in a free country think and say in the first place, and then to progressively restrict and diminish the permissible subsets of beliefs that are allowed them, is a reprehensible abuse of power, and an abhorrence that no genuine proponent of free speech or human rights would ever dare to attempt.

That abuse, however, and that oft-attempted abhorrence, sit at the very heart of Professor Triggs’ activities at the Human Rights Commission. When her term shortly expires, no reasonable person will lament her departure.

The Liberty Victoria award to Professor Triggs is obscene; its Voltaire Award is looking considerably tarnished.

Far from lauding Triggs where the right to free speech is concerned, the only fitting rewards for her efforts are sneering contempt and ridicule — and the summary erasure, by any successor at the Human Rights Commission, of any lingering evidence of her tenure.