It’s time for Labor to become a broad church

It’s time for Labor to become a broad church, by Paul Kelly.

Over a generation, the Labor Party has been transformed by its embrace of progressive ideology. It is now a fusion of middle-class, tertiary-educated, progressive ideo­logues and old-fashioned social­ democrats tied to a union movement devoid of industrial power.

The problem for Labor is that progressive ideology is electoral poison. Its purpose is to subvert the values of nation and society and elevate those of group identity and individual self-realisation or narcissism. …

The more progressive Labor gets, the more its primary vote sinks. … Since 1996, Labor has won one out of nine federal elections as a majority government….

Labor bene­fited from the Whitlam revolution 50 years ago by expanding its ­support base but the party is now the prisoner of progressive special interests. Anybody who doubts this should read the ALP platform. It is a dismal, turgid document riddled with social and cultural rent-seeking. …

Progressivism … has been recast as a movement dedicated to radical climate action, identity politics and dismantling traditional cultura­l norms of behaviour and values….

Because much of the political media is progressiv­e, it cannot comprehend the problem with progressivism and cannot comprehend Labor’s defeat.

Progressivism has many manifestations: it wants individuals to change their lives and become virtuous­ to save the planet and repudiat­e the climate deniers. It is internationalist, wanting government to honour the human rights of non-citizens and asylum-seekers and deny border protection based on national sovereignty. Its historical vision is that of immoral Western societies founded on invasion­, racism, sexism and patriarchy that dictates a dismantling of existing cultural norms. And it champions identity politics where people should identify accordin­g to race, sex and gender, erecting a power structure of “victim­” and “oppressor” and creati­ng almost impossible patterns­ of community conflict. …

Progressivism has marched into the party’s culture as old working-class cultural­ conservatism is driven out. …

Because progressives seek to redefine what constitutes virtue, they unnerve and divide the community. Their message is: change your thinking and values. …

Australians have typically been pragmatic and incremental about change. But progressivism offends this outlook because it is self-righteous, self-obsessed and intolerant and, as a consequence, invariably divisive.

Intolerant progressivism will kill Labor as a majority party if it gets a tighter grip. It will narrow Labor’s cultural base but make that base more obsessive and utopian. It will win misleading praise from elites and media while expanding­ the number of hostile “quiet Australians”.

The Greens are the purist progressive party but they have hit a voting ceiling.

The problem is [the progressive] ideology and insistenc­e that people change their beliefs and their notion of a moral life. For many people, this is profoundly offensive. The harder progressives push — and they won’t stop — the more certain the grassroots backlash.

Too many Labor MPs, staffers and members are progressives. The party rank-and-file and its identity are entwined­ with progressive faiths. This is supposed to make Labor more successful but Labor is becomin­g less successful. At the recent election, the richest 20 per cent of seats swung to Labor and most of the rest swung to the Coalition­, evidence of Labor’s identity betrayal.

The progressives have lost Paul Kelly, who has been inclined to go along with political correctness and most leftist causes. In other words lefties, slow down.