Barnaby Joyce takes final tumble over affair, joins Tony Abbott on backbench

Barnaby Joyce takes final tumble over affair, joins Tony Abbott on backbench, by Chris Kenny.

The government’s troubles — personal, political and policy — are emanating from the conservative side of the Coalition. The most critical fracturing in the body politic is at the conservative end where the Liberals and Nationals are bleeding votes to One Nation and the Australian Conservatives.

While conservatives must shoulder their share of the blame for their woes — from their strategic decision to fight a same-sex marriage campaign they could never win to Abbott’s failures in government and Joyce’s personal/public overlap — the Coalition’s crisis stems more from the triumphalism of the moderates and the marginalisation of conservatives. The 2016 election results and subsequent polls prove that conservative voters have walked away. …

Many Liberal MPs seem to think the character of the nation changed when they switched leaders. It did not. When Abbott made mistakes and Liberals replaced him with Turnbull, the voters didn’t change. Moderates may want to present a kinder, gentler face, but they can’t alter the history of Abbott’s landslide win or the reasons people voted for the Coalition. The verdict on the softer version of the Liberals was delivered in 2016, all but wiping out the Coalition’s majority.

The Turnbull Liberals lack policy differentiation from Labor, reflecting the fatal flaw of the so-called Liberal moderates who tend to cede criticism from leftists in the media and opposing parties and shrink from tough debates. Be it border protection, climate policy, the Northern Territory intervention or tackling the Australian Human Rights Commission, moderate MPs seldom show a stomach for the fight. They want to be loved [by the PC media]. …

When Joyce lets down social conservatives, Turnbull talks up his Paris targets and cabinet ministers dismiss immigration concerns, it is Pauline Hanson and Bernardi who rub their hands in glee. The Prime Minister and his supporters can pretend otherwise — perhaps convincing themselves they will steal the middle ground from Labor — but the hard evidence shows the Coali­tion has crab-walked away from its conservative flank, which has turned to right-wing break­aways. Unsurprisingly for a market economy, the mainstream is weighted to the right of centre; even Labor leaders are most successful when they pitch to the right.

For 1½ decades One Nation had become a historical footnote in Australian politics. It was reanimated when Abbott was brought down. This was not a coincidence. From day one Turnbull needed to demonstrate he was not steering the Coalition ship to port. Instead, he has been lured by the siren song of the leftist political/media class …

Philip:

Yes, Joyce threw away his career and betrayed his family, but what I find far more disturbing is the fact that if it had been a man he had had sex with and moved in with, then he would have been lauded by the media for his honesty.

hat-tip Stephen Neil, Philip Barton