Now before you start screaming, and wondering what kind of drug is this stupid bastard on, let me take a moment to explain.
Yes, it’s true I have been mainlining schardenfreude and it’s heady
stuff, the real deal, not that synthetic crap you’d score from some guy
called Sir Rupert behind the dunnies at the Melbourne Club.
Happily, there are many more like me and it’s all due to the efforts of Tony Abbott.
You see without Tony Abbott, the Left in Australia would still be languishing somewhere in the 1990s.
Abbott has been able to unite the Left including the more moderate
sections of his own party in a way that no other Conservative politician
including Menzies or Howard could ever do.
What may be termed as the ‘traditional Left’ with its union
affiliations and working class support base had been in steady decline
during the Hawke-Keating years and all but disappeared during the Howard
regime aided and abetted by the ‘small target’ stance taken by Beasley
Generational difference also played its part. Generation X, “bred in
modest comfort and now housed in universities” felt no affinity with
unionism nor with being ‘working class’ but rather were drawn toward
Howard’s promises of a ‘relaxed and comfortable’ middle-class.
Who need unionism with its connotations of entrenched corruption and
grimy fingered belligerence? Middle-class welfare and family tax
benefits A and B were the go, and access to easy credit provided the
lubricant for purchase of the house, the 4WD, and those oh so important
private school fees.
No one wanted to question what the price would be for this bourgeois bonanza least of all Howard and Costello.
Generation Y followed dutifully in Gen X’s footsteps.
This is not to say that Leftist activism ceased, but the younger
generation were drawn to the Greens rather than the ALP, and while the
traditional unionists fought and won their last great battle in 1998
against Corrigan over the Wharf dispute, they also saw the writing on
the wall, took their redundancy packages and got while the going was
Nor did the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years see any revival of the Left’s
fortunes and arguably the continued vacuum allowed on one hand, the rise
of a meglomaniac with little talent and on the hand, a competent
politician hamstrung by an appalling sense of timing.
Enter Tony Abbott.
Abbott’s short-comings have been well documented on this site and in
the MSM over the past few days so there’s no need to regurgitate them.
What Abbott has done from the outset of his government, is to provide
the impetus for the emergence of a new and most significantly,
Almost single-handely, Abbott has provided the glue for the cohesion
of young and old, middle class and working poor to unite in opposition
to his government’s policies.
The fact that a Conservative politician rather than a Progressive has
been able to tap the vast well-spring of voter dissatisfaction and
frustration with Neo-liberalism which has been building steadily over
the past decade and a half is a delicious irony. (note to self: no more
schardenfreude this arvo or you’ll have to go and have a little bit of a
Moreover, this new and united voice has served as a clear prompt and reminder to the minor parties.
For the Greens it’s an indication of continued and growing support
and this is evidenced by the outcome of the recent Victorian state
For Palmer United and the independents its a firm reminder not to
waver in their opposition to the LNP’s deliberate determination to
destroy the very foundations on which Australia has been built, for to
do so is political suicide.
The emergent New Left bears little resemblance to the traditional
Left save for its concern with social justice. As argued above, it is
intergenerational in a manner that the old Left could never achieve.
It is new media (social media) savvy and it has found its found its
voice, one which carries across the globe in an instant, and more
importantly it is the voice of a collected people from all walks of life
as they unite in concern for the fate of their society and of the
While its likely that a new Left would have emerged in the near
future, under a more moderate leader it is unlikely that it would have
occurred so swiftly or with such determination.
So as the Wreck of the Hesperus that has been Abbott’s leadership
sinks beneath the waves, let us give a brief moment of thanks to the
individual who, in his determination to divide the nation unconsciously
provided the tinder to the flames which are now engulfing him.