How to destroy ScoMo in eighteen months


Via the AFR:

Scott Morrison’s shock win in the federal election may have been delivered by the “battlers” – non-university educated voters in lower income brackets – and Christians.

ANU professor Ben Phillips found that electorates with a lower percentage of persons with bachelor degrees and income greater than $100,000, and a higher percentage of persons identifying as Christian, positively correlated with a swing to the Coalition.

Overall two-party-preferred swing to the Coalition was modest at less than 1 per cent since 2016. Falling primary votes for both major parties suggest that preference flow from minor parties like One Nation significantly contributed to the swing.

Here’s what Chris Bowen said yesterday when announcing his candidacy for the Labor leadership:

Mr Bowen, a member of the ALP right, formally announced his bid on Tuesday morning in front of the house where he grew up in Sydney’s Smithfield.

“I think the party does deserve contest. I think that the party deserves a choice,” he told reporters.

He took ownership of Labor’s franking credits policy which was devastatingly described as a “retiree tax” by the coalition during the campaign, but said the party would start with a blank policy slate for the coming term.

“No political party ever takes to the next election, exactly the same policies they took to the last. That would be dumb.”


Yes it would. So what to change? I have a suggestion, courtesy of the Social Democrats in Denmark, previously via The Guardian:

She marked her return on Facebook, with a video straight out of a Quentin Tarantino film, buttoning her jacket, arranging her hair and slipping on stiletto heels to heavy metal music. “I’m ready again,” she declared to camera. “Let’s get this bus rolling.”

Mette Frederiksen, leader of Denmark’s opposition Social Democrats, was in hospital with food poisoning when the prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, called a general election last week, and was two days late joining the campaign.

But the 41-year-old has all the momentum, with her left-of-centre bloc starting with an eight percentage point lead, and few doubting that she will become Denmark’s youngest-ever prime minister after the election on 5 June.

“I’m super excited because we so desperately need a change of government,” said campaign volunteer Malou Astrup Clemmensen as she prepared to hand out roses on the streets of Copenhagen for Frederiksen’s campaign launch.

A victory for Frederiksen would be a boon for Europe’s social democrats as they gaze across the continent at a dispiriting political landscape. But it would not be without controversy, for under Frederiksen the party has been ruthlessly reshaped: dragged to the left economically – and sharply to the right on immigration.

“For me, it is becoming increasingly clear that the price of unregulated globalisation, mass immigration and the free movement of labour is paid for by the lower classes,” she said in a recent biography.

Denmark’s current right-wing coalition government last year enacted the most anti-immigration legislation in Danish history and, rather than position her party in stark opposition, Frederikson has embraced much of it.

Under her leadership, the SD have called for a cap on “non-western immigrants”, for asylum seekers to be expelled to a reception centre in North Africa, and for all immigrants to be forced to work 37 hours a week in exchange for benefits.

She has reached out to the populist Danish People’s party (DPP), doing a series of joint interviews with its leader, Kristian Thulesen Dahl, and discussing cooperating with them in government.

But it is the government policies her party has supported or failed to oppose which have been most alarming for her allies in the left-of-centre red bloc. The Social Democrats voted in favour of a law allowing jewellery to be stripped from refugees, and a burqa and niqab ban, and abstained rather than voted against a law on mandatory handshakes irrespective of religious sentiment at citizenship ceremonies, and a plan to house criminal asylum seekers on an island used for researching contagious animal diseases. In February, she backed what the DPP has branded a “paradigm shift” – a push to make repatriation, rather than integration, the goal of asylum policy.

“I find it odd that it’s possible to make such a shift, not just in your policy but also in your fundamental values,” Morton Østergaard, leader of the centrist Social Liberal party, told the Observer. “What’s different in Denmark is that we’re seeing parties coming out of a Liberal or Social Democrat value base eating into national conservatism in a race-to-the-bottom contest, because they’ve decided that the marginal voter can’t get tough enough on immigrants.”

Many believe her party’s new populist profile is a pure power play. The Danish People’s party has slipped from 21% in the 2015 elections to below 13%, according to a poll of polls by the Berlingske newspaper.

An internal Social Democrat survey of the party’s core voters carried out last autumn found that 37% of loyal Social Democrat voters thought immigration policy was too lax. And this was after three years of the most anti-immigration government in Danish history.

There is no reason for Labor to adopt the social conservatism expressed by Frederiksen. And it could and should sustain a helpful stance to refugees (though continue with stops the boats).

But the rest is pure gold for Labor. If it were adopt a platform of cutting immigration to historical average levels at 80k per annum it would:

  • massively wedge the LNP Government which is hopelessly in thrall to corporate Australia on huge influxes of foreign workers to crush wages, lift house prices and deliver stupid growth via more warm bodies and rent-seeking infrastructure opportunities;
  • it would immediately recapture the nationalist imaginations of One Nation and and United Australia Party (if it still exists), ie QLD;
  • it gives Labor a huge edge in managing climate and all other green issues;
  • it positions Labor as the party of housing affordability which is still popular;
  • it would throw the inner city dwelling left to the Greens, which is fine given the preferences flow back anyway;
  • it would immediately recapture the crush-loaded suburbs in the west of both Sydney and Melbourne;
  • and it would massively boost Labor on national security grounds.

There would be debates around the budget and how to grow the economy with a lower immigration intake but those can be won. The narrative writes itself. The China and housing booms are slowing. We need to get smarter about how to grow while lifting not lowering living standards. That should be via innovation, competition, productivity and participation, a lower dollar and energy prices, not crush-loading everything in sight, including universities.

It de-emphasises climate change policy while also making it much easier to manage.

Most importantly, Labor would implicitly become the Australia First party, not the globalist elite flunky, listening to its traditional constituency, speaking their language and delivering on their views.

The wedge into ScoMo would be epic. He would be forced to defend the indefensible even as the evidence mounted everywhere that their is no reprieve coming for wages, house prices are still far too high, the economy weak and overloaded service delivery crashing all around, especially for the aged.

ScoMo’s surplus obsession would also become a millstone around his neck as he refuses to invest enough into infrastructure.

If ScoMo answered with immigration cuts he would only confirm Labor’s leadership while wearing any adjustment costs. If not, his weak polls will put all kinds of pressure on him from the party, threatening another spill.

Classic “blue ocean” strategy.

All of that said, I suspect that if there is anyone left within Labor with the sense to go this way, it would probably break the party in half as the fake lefties had a breakdown.

About the author
David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal. He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.