Labor’s post-material push cannot conquer the nation

Labor’s post-material push cannot conquer the nation, by Paul Kelly.

Early data suggests the great paradox of the election — richer suburban and inner-city seats voted Labor against their class interests while poorer outer-suburban and regional seats voted Coalition against their class interests, ignoring Labor’s “soak the rich” appeal.

So what is happening?

There are three trends at work. First, occupational-based class voting is dying, which means more low-paid workers are ready to vote for the Coalition. Second, wealth­ier and highly educated people attuned to progressive norms vote on a post-material basis for Labor (and the Greens) because of climate change, refugee rights and cosmopolitan values. Third, as Australia becomes a broader asset-owning democracy — think family home, investment properties, superannuation, share ownership and retirement assets — any conflict over tax treatment of assets becomes a test of aspirational values and a potential vote turner. And this election saw Labor’s tax assault on the asset class. …

Labor got it wrong in 2019. Denial is strong among shocked progressives who say Scott Morrison is a scaremonger and there was nothing wrong with Labor’s policies. It is true Morrison ran a scare campaign. But Labor invited this campaign with a deeply flawed agenda the public did not want anyway. …

Labor offered radical change: higher taxes, bigger spending, more redistribution. It shifted decisively to the left. This strategy would work only if Australia was also shifting to the left. And there were signs of change. A conservative nation had voted for same-sex marriage, was worried about climate change, loathed the banks and was concerned about losing the “fair go”. It was becoming more progressive. …

The problem with radical change is that it inspires opposition. Shorten gave the right something to fight. He believed it was “down and out”. But Shorten re-energised the right under a new leader in Morrison, who knew how to fight. ..

Shorten ran on redistribution, not aspiration. But he left the impression of redistribution instead of aspiration. It was a divisive agenda — creating the perception of a line of people Labor would scorn or de-prioritise: miners, tradies, investors, believers and people from the regions. …

This election exposed Labor as the party of the urban cultural dynamic. … Ultimately, the primary vote tells the story — Labor’s 33.3 per cent compared with the Coalition’s 41.5 per cent. Labor’s urban success is partly a function of the Greens, and the Greens tie Labor to values that limit its ­nationwide vote.

Political tragics will find the whole article pretty interesting.