A class war election

Until quite recently, any discussion of income inequality in Australia was met by howls of “class war” from the political right. Particularly under Abbott, the right wanted to fight on culture war issues, while treating economic policy as a matter of competent management, in which the conservative parties were assumed, by default, to be superior.

Suddenly, however, it appears we are going to have a class war election, largely because of the choices made by the Turnbull government.

The obvious starting point is the trigger for the (presumed) double dissolution, the bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission, a regulatory body designed to be more hostile to unions than the Fair Work Commission and related bodies. At the same time, the government has promised to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, a regulatory body established by Labor with the opposite intent.

While anything is possible, the most likely outcome is that the ABCC bill will be passed by the Senate with amendments calling for things like a Royal Commission into banks, an inquiry into corruption in business, tax evasion and so on. To get the double dissolution, Turnbull will have to reject those amendments. So, the big question arising from the putative basis of the election will be “who are the real crooks here?”.

Turning to policy, the tax reform fiasco has pushed Turnbull to a position where, according to leaks, the only tax measures in the forthcoming Budget will be a cut in company tax rates and the abolition of the budget repair levy on high income earners (despite the obvious fact that the budget has not been repaired. I have to say, I find this difficult to believe. Surely the government has some kind of rabbit in the hat to obscure the fact that they are giving only to the rich, while taking from the poor. But this is unlikely to succeed in deceiving many.

Then there’s health and education. Abbott was thrown out, in large measure, because he broke promises to match Labor on the Gonski and NDIS reforms. Turnbull was part of the LNP government elected on the basis of those promises, and is bound by them just as much as Abbott was. But, like Abbott, he is breaking his promises in a class-war fashion. In order to keep the (bipartisan) promise that no rich school would be worse off, he is breaking the promises made to poor state schools.

In all of this, the class war aspect is pretty much undisguised. The one issue where Turnbull wants to maintain the old rhetoric relates to personal background. According to his backers, it’s perfectly OK to attack Shorten on the basis that he is a former trade union official, but it’s class war to mention that Turnbull is a multi-millionaire advocating policies that benefit him and people like him. Good luck with that.

44 thoughts on “A class war election

  1. Prof John

    Since you wrote a few weeks ago that you felt that Turnbull would struggle to win the next election, matters have only deteriorated for the government making your implied forecast more plausible. The next rabbit to be pulled out of the hat seems likely to be cranes on the horizon: 30 year bonds to build new infrastructure. Yes, people stuck in traffic may welcome these announcements, but I have long held the view that you can’t bribe the electorate. The public expects governments to build things anyway and on average voters look beyond signature projects to general competence and decency. Those two ingredients are sadly lacking at present.

  2. JQ – excellent post.

    Re “competent management”, the usual right wing warriors are curiously silent on the massive blow out in the cost of MT’s MTM version of the NBN. From $23B “fully costed” before the election to now northwards of $56B. Given that MT was previously the head of the local arm of the Vampire Squid, you’d assume one of the core competencies of an investment banker would be to get these things correct, but apparently not, and the shock-jocks et al are silent. You can be sure if it was the ALP the Murdoch press would be merciless.

  3. Ultimately the liberal party’s scope for policy change is limited by the pretty clear fact that large swathes of the party membership, the back bench and even the cabinet are actually significantly mentally disturbed.

    I mean, seriously. Sophie Mirabella.

  4. In many ways Turnbull is trapped between two ugly realities. His background is very much tax cuts for the rich, shield the finance industry and similar class warfare, so we’d perhaps forgive him for doing that. But on issues where we’d expect him be be the liberal, Liberal PM he’s facing the pointy sticks of the conservative worriers, so he can’t cover the class war up with glorious gay marriage, “Sorry”, or similar distractions. And any substantive reforms on issues like gender equality or abortion sanity are right out.

    My sympathy is somewhat limited because he’s a toff and I’m much more sympathetic to just about anyone else. O woe, Malcolm doesn’t get what he wants for once, I hope the shock doesn’t kill him.

  5. “Abbott was thrown out, in large measure, because he broke promises to match Labor on the Gonski and NDIS reforms.”

    That is a dubious claim.

  6. Yes I recall Mathias Cormann crying class war over ALP’s opposition to superannuation changes.

    The ABCC exercise is 90% class war.

    However the current campaign to cut penalty rates is a greater example of class war as it is a direct example of capitalists needing to cut wages to maintain their own viability.

    As predicted by Adam Smith and Karl Marx.

  7. In ‘Insiders’ on Sunday they characterised it as ‘top hats’ versus ‘hard hats’.
    I agree that Abbott was thrown out largely because his popularity tanked because of broken promises, but a lot of the attempts to break promises eg uni fee deregulation, were blocked by the Senate, so in the end not many promises were broken. The NDIS funding promise has been kept so far. Still, he tried to break a lot of promises, and given his vitriol against Gillard’s so-called broken promises, and his promise to do better, any breaking of promises inevitably built into a fatal narrative.

  8. Neoliberal to the left, neoliberal to the right, neoliberals everywhere, every day and every night!!

    There are several big questions that need to be answered, indeed. As JQ asks “….. who are the real crooks here?”. The question may be better posed as: who are the bigger and better crooks? There seems to be fraud and corruption under all facets of industry at present and probably none more so than the financial industry.

    The struggle of class against class has been around as long as man has been upright, just ask Monty Py….. er Karl Marx. Political struggles are nothing new and will remain forever and a day. Whether the workers have the balls to deny the silver tails to dominate the workplace or they don’t is another question. And speaking of bunnies; who’s is trying to outfox who in this election as he who wins may not be the winner as the Australian economic climate continues to deteriorate rapidly!!

  9. Thanks to our sad excuses for media, the top-down class war has been normalised. The Libs have forgotten that they are at war. To them, it’s just the business as usual of the suppository of economic wisdom. No wonder they aren’t alive to the bad optics of their 2016 high baroque that grew out of their (well Thatcher-Reagan-Douglas-Hawke-Keating’s really) 1980s classical revival.

  10. Interesting to see the “value capture” notion raised again, as a proposed source of finance for a high speed rail project. I wonder how long this will last? Many will see value capture as another form of taxation… an undesirable impost on property. The idea has been proposed in the past as a way of getting money from property developers who benefit from public decisions, i.e., to rezone a precinct or a property in a way that makes the land more valuable, or to spend public money on facilities such as light rail or street improvements that benefit property owners. But when considered as a source of funds for, say, affordable housing projects, the property industry typically either opposes the idea, or actively subverts implementation. Meanwhile, planning approvals are widely used to deliver windfall gains to property owners and developers, while they also, not infrequently, impact adversely on people on low incomes who need access to affordable dwellings. The planning system is another arena in which the class war is constantly fought, and planning decisions are a weapon wielded primarily in the interests of property developers.

  11. @Collin Street

    I have known some people who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses, and I think this sort of pejorative reference to their condition stigmatises them in a cruel and unhelpful way.

  12. J-D that sort of blinkered apologism is what gave us a sociopathic, in my observation and opinion, Prime Minister in Tony Abbott. Such claims should be backed up with evidence so I invite you to apply the sociopath test to any person you are concerned about

    http://www.businessinsider.com.au/questions-that-diagnose-whether-youre-a-sociopath-2013-7#1-are-you-superficially-charming-and-intelligent-1

    When people in public office are considered “too important” to examine and challenge, democracy steps onto the slippery slope towards mass corruption. I do agree though that this should not become a weapon to win arguments, in the way that the LNP opened its “dirty secrets” files to crucify one of their own when he fell out of their fold, ie Peter Slipper.

    It will be to John Howard’s eternal condemnation in history that he elevated Abbott to the front bench, fully knowing of his condition (only a fool would not), because he was useful for his ability to brutally stare down opponents and blatantly lie with a straight face.

  13. While on that theme briefly here are several other links that everyone should copy and store away for reference, and self protection.

    http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15850/1/Characteristics-of-a-Sociopath.html

    http://www.decision-making-confidence.com/female-sociopaths.html

    Having had a psychopathic business partner I assure you all it is no fun. Foreknowledge will not necessarily protect you from becoming involved, but it will help for early detection and a minimum damage managed exit.

  14. @BilB
    Do your engineering qualifications and experience enable you to diagnose psychiatric conditions in people you’ve never met? Even psychologists and Psychiatrists don’t claim to have that ability.

    Also, do you seriously think that online clickbait test means anything? Seriously?

  15. @bjb
    How can the cost of a broadband network have gone up? IIRC the transmission capacity of optical fibre has gone up faster than Moore’s Law for transistor density. At all events the cost per MBS has certainly gone down a lot.

  16. TimM, there are several other tests there in another comment (in moderation), not click bait, they all say exactly the same thing. But they also go to some length in the extraction process for recommending warning others, which is what I am doing. Am I qualified? It is like the law,….ignorance is no excuse or help, when it comes to dealing with sociopaths.

    As far as Abbott is concerned it is, as I say, my opinion. I first noticed Abbott’s behaviour in the 2003 election where he, as minister of health and the LNP looked like they might go down to Latham’s Labour, made the election promise to match Labour’s “Gold Card” for the over 75’s. Labour failed and so three months after the election I just happened to be listening to Laurie Oakes interviewing Abbott and challenging him on his announcement that the LNP would not create the “Gold Card” after all. Abbott claimed that the reason was that they “did not know of cost blowouts in the scheme before making the promise”. Oakes corrected him, and just a few sentences later Abbott said” well OK we did know about the blowouts but we are not going to implement the scheme anyway”. The way he said it was clearly the manner of some one comfortable with lying fluently. Abbott has just gone from strength to strength with such personality traits that consolidate his position in this profile. Do you remember Abbott blasting Gillard mercilessly for supposedly breaking an election promise?

    And then he became Prime Minister.

    You don’t have to agree with my observations, but I think the outcome speaks for itself. Fortunately Abbott is history. I am really more interested in the personality traits of Libertarians. Are you one of those, Tim?

    again

    http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15850/1/Characteristics-of-a-Sociopath.html

  17. The winners of Federal elections like to state that elections are won or lost on federal issues and ‘the public is smart enough to differentiate between state and federal issues’. I think this maxim may go out the window this election. I think this will be particularly true in NSW.

    NSW is on the precipice of a major revolt (by Australian standards) due to state issues including; forced council amalgamations, lock out laws, CSG protest laws, westconnex, the relocation of the powerhouse museum and the desire to build a new stadium at Moore Park all feeding into voter confundity and the perception that the coalition government either does not listen or does not care and that PM Turnbull only compounds this voter disappointment and angst. If it was a Labor State government I can only begin to imagine the backlash from News Limited et al – but even then, Premier Baird has Alan Jones and The Telegraph against him on a number of different issues.

    I still think that the Federal election will end up with a hung parliament, however if the ALP get over the line, I think it could be in large part due to people protesting against the Baird government and therefore the ALP winning an unexpectedly high number of seats in NSW.

  18. @BilB

    I made no reference to people in public office being ‘too important’ to be scrutinised. As far as I can tell, you just made that up. On the contrary, I fully endorse the view that respect for institutions of power is anti-democratic. You’ll notice that I make no objection to your describing John Howard’s actions as foolish. If the actions of people in public office are foolish, or petty, or narrow-minded, or nonsensical, or vicious, or cruel, or ludicrous, or mean, or ignoble, or venal, or corrupt, or rash, or ill-considered, they absolutely should be so described. There is no shortage of pejorative descriptions that can be applied to the actions of people in public office, which is all the more reason not to resort to ones whose pejorative use can stigmatise a group of people who are already among the most vulnerable, stigmatised, and poorly understood in our society.

  19. @BilB
    I think Abbott is obnoxious, and I also think he was easily the worst Prime Minister in my adult life and perhaps my lifetime. But I also agree with J-D that using accusations of mental illness as a type of insult against politicians you despise is highly offensive to the mentally ill, as well as completely unnecessary.

    I think online tests for sociopathy and similar traits are a sort of parlour game which can be fun, but it is foolish to take them seriously.

  20. OVeseas we have interesting disruptions to the status quo by Corbyn (UK) and Sanders (USA). Both have yet to make significant changes however they are making their presence felt.

    With a wealthy merchant banker heading our country should we also be alert and alarmed? Or perhaps we be more concerned with the piper who appears to be paying for the tune.

    “Tax havens perform an important function by putting downwards pressure on domestic tax rates”. Chris Berg IPA

  21. James, Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure, the phone lines, were very old. The government decided to replace the replace the copper wire with optical fiber. The Coal-ition came into power and decided the internet was “just and audio visual entertainment system” and decided that long distance optical fiber lines plugged into a mass of copper fuzz was just as good. Keeping that copper fuzz operating is really expensive and getting more expensive all the time. But it has the advantage of not giving lazy bludgers decent internet for free. For example, a small business owner who oddly enough actually depends on the internet asked how much it would cost to get optical fiber from the main line about 100 meters to his house. He was told $3,000. And $24,000 a year in line rental. Now just imagine how much harder he is going to have to work if he wants to afford that. Nope, no lazy bludgers getting decent internet here.

  22. Perhaps I was a little harsh, J-D. But then Collin S’s comment was actually….”mentally disturbed”, which does not necessarily involve illness. It can mean “distressed”, “conflicted”, “angry” or even “aggravated”, and I can see how the LNP would be all of those things given the election promises they made and their total failure to achieve any of them other than kill the carbon price (a brief state of affairs soon to be reversed). I suspect we may well see many more such symptoms as the election approaches and the LNP support slides under the rug. As desperation sets in we may well even see a number of “political suicides” as the old attempts to “Trump” the new.

  23. Tim Macknay,

    The country dodged a bullet with Latham only to fall on its sword with Abbott. You may want to delude yourself about such people but casting ones eye around the world should alert one to the destructive nature of extreme personalities in power and politics.

    And it is extreme personalities that are very much the hidden substance of this thread.

    Why are we even talking about class wars…in Australia……in the twenty first century?

    Well it is all about Neo Liberalism / Libertarianism. Libertarianism is about developing a community devoid of Empathy, and it is Empathy, or rather the lack of it that is the connection to the “class war”. If you have empathy for your fellow citizens then how can you wish less for them than for yourself? To want to be above your fellow citizens then there must be a lesser degree of empathy, so how much less empathy does a Neo Liberal have or a Libertarian have for his fellow citizens?

    From CorpWatch.org

    “The main points of neo-liberalism include:

    THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.

    CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

    DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.

    PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, rail roads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

    ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”

    How thin is that line between social harmony and chaos? Here is the Bolivian water story to ponder in conjunction with the fate of Whyalla Steel in the framework of the TTP and loss claiming against other countries

    http://democracyctr.org/bolivia/investigations/bolivia-investigations-the-water-revolt/bechtel-vs-bolivia-details-of-the-case-and-the-campaign/

  24. Class war election is a good and sadly accurate portrayal of where we are at. The “lifters and leaners” speech was so offensive on so many levels, I could have punched a wall. Watching them smoke cigars as so many people were getting sacked around the country—Man!

  25. That…

    ““Tax havens perform an important function by putting downwards pressure on domestic tax rates”. Chris Berg IPA”

    …is a real gem, Rog. Grammatically correct, and that is all.

  26. J-D
    I have a mental illness and I was not offended. My impression was that Collin was suggesting psychopathy not an actual mental illness.

    And while I don’t speak for all mentally ill people we aren’t delicate little flowers that have to be treated with care all the time.

    I am medicated primarily to protect me from myself. The modern conservatives needs to be medicated to protect society from them. They become lethal when they’re anywhere near the seat of power.

    Also, you remind me of this guy.

  27. In general, commenters should avoid the use of terms implying mental illness in political opponents, and I absolutely ban any such use in relation to other commenters.

    There are some serious issues that can’t be avoided, such as the prevalence of sociopathic traits among leaders, the role of psychological defence mechanisms in climate denial, and so on. But I’d prefer that these issues be dealt with in specific threads, rather than being used as throwaway lines.

  28. Class war appears to have recurred throughout history. It is not at all difficult to find examples of slave revolts, plebeian revolts, peasant revolts and worker revolts down through the ages. In these revolts, the hidden social and economic war breaks out as open war, as revolt and reaction. I guess in discussing “class war” here, we are discussing the latest modern phase of the hidden social and economic war against the poor and the weak. We are discussing also the concomitant amassing of more wealth and power by the already privileged.

    Inequality and and class war, hidden or open, seem to occur under a number of different power systems and economic systems. Inequality itself must be the predisposing factor for open rebellion. That would appear to be a constant throughout history. Raise rates of inequality and injustice high enough and open rebellion will occur. What is different, over time, are the ways inequality and injustice are generated. Each political-economic system, especially each more evolved and developed political-economic system, finds innovative ways to conduct the hidden class war.

    Any class conflict of interest must be about the extraction of a surplus from production. The emperor’s granaries must be kept full. The billionaire’s off shore accounts must be kept bulging. The surplus essentially funds two things, opulence and security. Opulence is easy enough to understand but security is complex, multi-level undertaking. Maintaining the security of opulence and privilege is the really expensive part.

    There are some systems under which inequality and injustice will never be overcome. The ills are inherent in the system. A slave system is one example. Autocracy is another. Plutocracy under capitalism is yet another. Inequality and injustice will never be overcome under capitalism, especially not under corporate capitalism. All the observable trends are running the other way and have been since the neocon revolution commenced about 40 years ago. Piketty demonstrated the inevitable logic of capitalism when returns on capital are greater than growth. He demonstrated that for much of capitalism’s history returns on capital have been greater than growth. It took world wars and world depressions to temporarily alter this fact (by provoking a period or two of atypical high growth after capital destruction). High growth has been shown to be a temporary condition of the system never likely to return again. Capital destruction now is unlikely to provoke high growth due to resource and biosphere system constraints as limits to growth or at least limits to rapid growth. We appear to have entered a new era of long-run stagnation, sometimes called “secular stagnation”.

    I used to be a supporter of the Keynesian style, mixed capitalist economy. I used to think it was a tolerable compromise. Now, the plutocratic and corporate powers have shown that they are not interested in compromise. They are not interested in letting the people have a fair share. Class war is going to be continually intensified under this system, especially under stagnation conditions. This is very clear from recent history. The facts have changed, or perhaps they have been better elucidated by the progress of history since the collapse of the “Golden Era” of Keynesian Capitalism and the recognition of limits to growth or at least limits to growth rates. Since the facts have changed, or been thrown into better relief by the economic events of the last 40 years, I have changed my mind.

    To call “class war” with intellectual consistency one must first critically evaluate and reject the system which generates the class war. One cannot consistently call for an end to this particular class war (the one of late stage corporate capitalism) without calling for an end to capitalism itself.

  29. Some have argued for a class war for many, many years.

    Class war in the public service?

    Unfortunately their Trot-antics have devalued their contribution.

    John Passant is another ANU-trot, who is also making useful theoretical points but also steeped in trot-antics.

    In general the class warriors are mostly trots-on-campus not class conscious workers in the workplace.

  30. Given that the ‘workers’ side of the class warfare is no longer something widely felt as applying to ‘us’ – less identifying by ordinary Australians with socialist type values and certainly less Union membership than ever – the perception for the other side may be that they are in a better position than ever to win a class war. I suggest the low income types that vote for conservative parties tend to do so on the basis of hot button/ dog whistle politics that aim to get emotions running high – and if the pollies can press the right buttons people to get them “worked up” they are likely to stop taking in information and stop thinking and evaluating their options rationally -and will be induced to vote against their own broader interests on issues that they are not so engaged with.

  31. @Ivor

    I will have to plead my own ignorance here. I don’t understand your point. When you say “some have argued for a class war” do you mean they have argued for the view that class war is occurring or they have argued for a class war to be begun? (I would argue that class war is always going on under capitalism and other exploitative political-economies. It is just a matter of whether it is hidden or open. Wars do have truces, accommodations, lulls and new outbreaks too.)

    Also, what are Trot-antics? I don’t know what these are. I mean I have heard of Trotskyites. I assume their “antics” must mean their tactics. I infer this since you indicate some of their theoretical points are useful in your opinion. I am not a Trotskyite BTW so anything critical of Trots won’t offend me.

  32. As Donald Oates pointed out Hockey has already named the war and the players.

    This is the battle of the “Lifters and the Leaners”.

    I suspect to be a respectable class battle we need another class and in view of the Panama papers that other group could be called Launderers (taking everyone else to the cleaners). So we have the class struggle of the…

    “Launderers, Lifters, and Leaners”

  33. @BilB

    Sounds about right. Lifters are the people who actually do the paid work or would do it if there was enough paid work for everyone. Leaners are those who lean on the lifters and take a cut for doing nothing. That is the leaners take a cut for the difficult job of “owning”. Launderers help the non-working leaners increase their cut further.

  34. @Ikonoclast

    I suppose you need years of experience to recognise Trot-tactics. However as a thumbnail sketch:

    IN a union or social movement – the trots will organise separately typically as: the Left Opposition or camouflaged as “rank-and-file” opposed to reformists.

    In a Left Opposition – the trots will organise separately typically as: the Radical Left Opposition opposed to collaborationists.

    In a Radical Left – the trots will organise separately typically as: The Militants opposed to Stalinists.

    Even in an organisation of “Militants” the trots will organise separately typically as: True Revolutionaries opposed to sell-outs.

    And in revolutionary mass movements – why even here the trots separate themselves telling all that their organisation is the – wait for it – “The Vanguard”.

    They will split every organisation they join up with, and when all the damage is done – they will then start splittig amongst themselves.

    When unions take combined action to defend working conditions – the trots will be those with banners and leaflets calling for a General Strike.

    They are very, very, slow learners.

  35. @Ken Fabian

    Different categories of low-income people have different reasons for voting for conservative parties, but you’ve missed at least one important one.

    The strongest single indicator of how people are likely to vote is not the size of their incomes but the source of them. People whose incomes come from an ownership interest — whether that’s in the form of shares and other investments or in the form of being proprietors of their own businesses — are the ones most likely to vote for conservative parties. Some of those people have high incomes but some of them have low ones. This is the main factor in explaining why some of the parliamentary seats with (statistically) populations with the lowest incomes are among those that most reliably elect members from the conservative parties: they are rural seats where there are lots of people who own their own farms or small businesses without necessarily making a lot of money out of them.

  36. @Ikonoclast

    Obviously there can only be conflict over inequality if there is inequality. In the absence of inequality there can be no conflict over inequality, but that doesn’t prove that in the absence of inequality there will be no conflict at all.

    Also, even if it is plausible to suppose that the frequency and intensity of conflict within society vary with the degree of inequality within society, it does not follow that the degree of inequality within society is the only variable that affects the frequency and intensity of conflict within society. History does not support that conclusion.

    Finally, since the degree of inequality can vary within the context of the same system, it is not correct to conclude that the only way to reduce inequality is to get rid of the whole system; to insist on getting rid of the whole system as the only method or only object is likely to hinder the reduction of inequality.

  37. Makes me think of Les Miserables…….(wo)man the barricades and all that.

    (Facetiously) I blame those economists and social scientists who peddled the ‘rationalization’ and end of history lines.

    Which is only equalized in silliness by socialism/communism leading to the state melting away leaving a kind of Arcadia.

    Did/do people like Malcolm believe their current tosh/version of Land of Cockaigne? or was it all a cynical dead end con which is really running out of steam as evidenced by continued use of the old methods ….. like appeals to the nation.

  38. @J-D
    Alternative or perhaps complementary theory: people vote according to tribal loyalty, without much regard to whether their favourite’s policies are actually in their own interests. ‘I vote for the X party because they’re my kind of people/ the people that I aspire to emulate.’

    I wouldn’t expect that too many of Trump’s poor white male supporters are struggling small capitalists. Or as Paul Krugman put it in his New York Times blog recently, the modern Republican party is a ‘giant bait and switch exercise’ *the aim of which is to con poor whites into voting for the interests of the one per cent* (the words in asterisks are mine, not Krugman’s)

  39. My Dad had a favourite saying at election time: ‘The Liberal Party believes in class war and the Labor Party doesn’t.’

  40. @john

    It’s not an alternative theory but it may be a complementary one.

    I was commenting on the empirical facts about who votes for which party. If it’s true that self-employed people are highly likely to vote for the Coalition parties (which was my observation), that raises the question ‘Why do self-employed people tend to vote for the Coalition parties?’ Your theory that self-employed people tend to vote for the Coalition parties out of tribal loyalty is one possible response. Obviously that in turn raises the question ‘Why do self-employed people feel a sense of tribal loyalty to the Coalition parties?’

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