Labor as the natural party of government

The title of this post may seem strange when the Federal Labor Party is in such a dreadful mess. But the very fact that a party consumed by leadership brawling, facing a united government with a competent leader, a relatively strong economy and the kind of international tensions that favor governments, can still manage 50 per cent of the two-party preferred vote in a number of opinion polls is revealing.

Over at Crikey, Owen Outsider argues that there has been a long term trend towards Labor dating back to the Menzies era. I put forward a rather similar argument here, observing

In the past fifteen to twenty years, Labor has rarely lost a state election, except when it has displayed high levels of incompetence, arrogance or both. Even in the wake of fiascos like the Victorian and South Australian bank failures, the Liberals have struggled to gain a second term, and have never managed a third. By contrast, all the Labor governments on the eastern seaboard have won re-election by landslide margins, and all look set for extended periods in office.

In my view, the electorate is well to the left of the political elite (that word again!) on most domestic issues, so the Liberals can only win if attention is focused on foreign policy and (an important qualification) things turn out well for that policy.