The ‘shy conservatives’ sang out loud and clear

The ‘shy conservatives’ sang out loud and clear, by Greg Sheridan.

A definitive interpretation is elusive, but it is part of a big trend in the West. Consider the election results it most resembles, in particular David Cameron’s unexpected majority win in Britain in 2015, the Brexit referendum the following year and Donald Trump’s victory in the US later that same year.

One common feature of all of these was that the polls under­estim­ated the actual conservative vote by 1 or 2 per cent. This is a striking commonality. The Coali­tion hadn’t won a poll in Australia in three years. Were the polls alway­s inaccurate or did a couple of per cent of people turn conservativ­e at the last? …

Why?

Here are four clear factors: clim­ate change policies, religious freedom, cultural conservatism, patriotic identity. All these put together can produce a syndrome of “forgotten people” given a rare chance to have their say. …

Don’t tell us how to live. Don’t tell us our lives are inferior to yours. Don’t take away our livelihoods. Don’t patronise and belittle us, then expect us to vote for you.

Adani, the epitome of moral-vanity posturing for inner-city elites:

The Brexit symbol of this elect­ion was the Adani coalmine. This mine means tens of thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly, and a great deal of new wealth for Queensland. Affluent public sector­ employees and the new wealthy in secure service jobs in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, having abandoned religion, oppose the Adani mine with religious fervour. It’s easy to oppose something when that costs you nothing.

If the Nationals could get Bob Brown to tour all their seats regularly, preferably with some inner-city celebrities, opposing mining and farming, they could form governmen­t on their own. …

Hillary Clinton lost all the coalmining states to Trump, having told left liberal audiences she wanted to shut coal down, then trying to say in the affected states that she was their friend. …

Religious freedom:

Modestly observant or even vaguely traditional Hindus, Bud­dhists, Sikhs and Muslims all feel culturally more at home with a relaxed Christian atmosphere than in a militantly atheist zeitgeist. They often pay a lot of money to send their kids to Christian schools, where they respect the schools’ Christian identity and their own religious identity is respected in turn. And when they do get the resources together to run their own schools, they want to be free to teach their beliefs. …

As big as Gough Whitlam’s win:

The Liberals should not over­interpret this result. Morrison campaigned brilliantly, with mag­nific­ent energy and discipline, and won a famous victory, but it was still only 51 per cent to 49 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis.