Five Australian PMs, fractured political parties: tribal politics loses its flavour

Five Australian PMs, fractured political parties: tribal politics loses its flavour. By Troy Bramston.

Only 55 per cent of Australians under the age of 30 support democracy over authoritarian forms of government.

There are five key trends that help define and explain the 2010s: leadership instability; party dealignment; the impact of social media; the change in traditional activism; and the degeneration of the political class. …

Labor’s vote is in decline:

The 2010s saw four general elections: 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019. Labor did not win a majority of seats at any of them. Labor has won a major­ity of seats at only one election (2007) in the past 26 years. This is an appalling record. If Labor were a business, it would be in receivership.

The party’s primary vote registered 37.9 per cent (2010), 33.3 per cent (2013), 34.7 per cent (2016) and 33.3 per cent (2019) — a decline of 4.6 percentage points across the decade. Labor’s vote needs to be in the 39-40 per cent range to form ­majority government. Labor won with 43.3 per cent in 2007, 49.4 per cent in 1983 and 49.5 per cent in 1972. It is a long time since Labor got anywhere near this level of support. …

Labor has suffered a dealignment of voter support as non-tertiary-educated working-class voters have shifted to the Coalition and far-right parties such as One Nation, while inner-city progressive voters motivated by post-materialist concerns have shifted to the Greens. …

It will be difficult for Anthony Albanese, the most left-wing Labor leader in more than a half-century, to bridge this divide. …

Labor is struggling to reconcile its different constituencies: socially conservative working and middle-class suburban and regional voters with a wealthy progressive cohort of voters in the inner cities. The political divide in the next decade will be as much about culture and values as it is about specific policies. Labor, already breaking away from its historic moorings, will find the next decade more difficult.

Social media:

Radio transformed politics in the 1930s and 40s, TV transformed politics in the 60s and 70s, and the internet trans­formed politics in the 90s and 2000s. The defining technological change in the 2010s was social media. No politician can succeed without engaging voters via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. ..

Much political campaigning takes place on handheld devices away from the scrutiny of the media and most voters. Messages, often fake, are highly targeted. (Remember Labor’s “death tax” or the Coalition’s plan to privatise Medicare?) Divisions are exploited. Political debate is dumbed down. …

The political class:

The political class has continued to degenerate. Those MPs who have not worked as a political staff member, party or union official, or as a lawyer are few and far between. Labor has degenerated the most and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of sub-faction leaders and union secretaries with diminishing real-world authority.

The membership of political parties continues to decline and constitutes less than 1 per cent of the electorate. …

Labor has shifted leftward and the Liberal Party has shifted to the right. Populism, while not as prevalent as overseas, is evident on the fringes of the major parties and is the stock-in-trade for minor parties. …

The influence and authority of the public service has tumbled. It is now challenged by competing sources of advice, including the inexorable rise in political staffers. Public servants rarely offer, or are asked for, frank and fearless advice. The bureaucracy’s ­effectiveness has been sapped by cost-cutting, efficiency dividends and many bright young people preferring a more lucrative and rewarding career in the private sector.

Increasingly the country is run by ideological politicians, the Twitter mob, and a dumbing-down deep state. Too many of those in positions of influence believe a set of PC fantasies and persecute anyone who disagrees, but the money flows to the fantasists. Perfect.