“No one was expecting this result,” said a stunned David Speers, signing off from his on-the-pulse Aston by-election coverage, utterly bewildered that the thing happening an awful lot recently happened again.
As with the Victorian, NSW, and federal elections, Australia’s highest profile political commentators appear flummoxed by politics, defaulting into perfuming the stench of the Liberal Party’s bloated corpse, unwilling or unable to accept the reality of the rot, the depth of the decay.
The Liberal Party’s run of recent blows now encompasses election defeats in Queensland (2020), WA (2021), SA (2022), Australia (2022), Victoria (2022), NSW (2023) and this weekend’s Aston by-election. I am a Leeds United supporter and intimately familiar with losing streaks: this is a bigggggggg one.
Peter Dutton’s party – that phrase in and of itself illuminating – holds just 14 urban seats. Greens and Independents hold 12. It’s even worse than that sounds though. As Kos Samaras, director of Red Bridge Group and former Victorian Labor deputy campaign director, points out, this tally drops to just eight seats if you eliminate those also encompassing semi-rural areas. There is no heartland anymore. In Sydney, they do not hold any seats with Harbour views; in Melbourne, just two seats remain, Team Blue being chased into the hills by Victorians with too much self-respect to vote for their abusers.
This crisis is existential for the Liberal Party. Wedged to the right by semi-sentient, wholly-drunk Akubras in the National Party and blood-thirsty psychopaths at News Corporation, and neutered in the centre by the Labor Party’s own enthusiasm to enact Liberal policies – stage three tax cuts, AUKUS and the offshore Gulag thing – there is presently little reason for the ‘party of Menzies’ to exist. It is today less a ‘broad church’ and more a support group for assholes.
Only one in five Millennials support the LNP. Amongst Gen Z that figure is even lower. And it’s not fucking suprising, David Speers!! By targeting older people almost exclusively since the Howard era, the Liberals have acted as antagonists to the young, actively working to undermine the things they care about most: social inclusion, the ability to afford somewhere to live, life on planet Earth, the arts, and decent fucking Internet. Somehow this approach did not pay off in the longer-term, the existence of time and death ultimately undermining this particular negatively geared strategy.
But this is horse before the cart stuff, because it was all inevitable. The Liberal Party’s unelectability is not really about shifting demographics. Or fatigue. Or bad luck. Or poor leadership. Or impotent talent pools. Or the quirks of preferential and compulsory voting, as they are now arguing. All of that is applicable, absolutely, but none of it would matter if not for the two related main points: (1) the Liberal Party fucking sucks, and (2), this has become increasingly obvious of late.
The sheen enthusiastically applied to the shit – media myths like the LNP’s “superior economic management” and that they quote-unquote “aren’t monsters” – is fading away, less mesmerising with every dwindling NewsCorp readership, less plausible with every Liberal Party stance against inclusion, every piece of disingenuous bad faith fuckery, every war of American aggression enthusiastically paid for in Australian blood, every lie or cover up or portfolio of seven secret ministries. We have seen too many instances of “foreigners are going to take your jobs” or “African gangs are making restaurants in Melbourne unsafe” or “refugees throw kids into the sea” to collectively fall for it anymore. Their contribution to the nation, since the mid-90s, is almost exclusively appalling, a series of deliberate and devious ratchettings of the nation’s macro anxiety, fear and hate levers.
Consider Dutton opposing the Voice, standing there yet again in the face of history and asking it to pass him the fuck on by. Disingenuously insisting on “more detail” for months, to confuse, to muddy waters, to create a myth that the ALP’s cack-handed approach to messaging played right into. A man literally fleeing Parliament to avoid voting on how those details work does not appear genuine in his quest for more details!! Anyone with half a brain knew Dutton was always going to land on the side of White Right and Might, and I do not understand why you do not understand this, David Speers.
Routinely and reliably, over three decades, the Liberal Party has favoured the wealthy over the poor, the old over the young, the callous and scared over the empathetic and kind. And they were fucking awful to Victorians during the early pandemic period, creating yet another cohort of people that will never even consider voting for them, a fact rarely acknowledged in Medialand – the only realm in which the Liberals make any sense. Political cynicism and opportunism is the party’s North Star.
The Liberal Party does indeed have a perception problem, but that problem is that the country perceives the Liberal Party accurately. It is unelectable because the electorate at large has a clearer picture of what they stand for (money, and not much else), what they are capable of (distraction, and not much else), and the types of people they attract (self-interested assholes, and not much else). It is decrepit, corrupt, devoid of good ideas and fundamentally obsessed with stupid bullshit, like which persecuted minority is waiting for you in the bathroom this time around. David Speers, please talk this through with the other kids on the monkey bars.
It really is quite simple: the Liberal Party is unelectable, not because of any unknowable mystery or demographic shift or quirk of the electorate, but because it fucking sucks and has fucking sucked uninterrupted for three decades now. In 2023, its remaining core beliefs deserve to be fringe. The decline is about what they stand for. It is not the party’s messaging that needs tinkering – its soul needs an exorcism.