Australian Conservatism is Finished


Last week the Australian senator Cory Bernardi formally resigned from the Liberal party in protest at conservatism having lost its way and the party’s leaders doing nothing to halt the slide into irrelevance. His decision was not surprising at all, considering that he had been hinting about it for months. He has formed a new party called Australian Conservatives. From an email he sent out to supporters on the day of his resignation announcement, we can gleam some idea of its agenda:

“Australian Conservatives will stand up for the principles that have made Australia such a great place and which have been abandoned by the political class beholden to half-baked solutions, costly fads and the sound of their own voices.”

Bernardi organized a press conference where he spoke for over 30 minutes, which I presume was less about wanting to deliver new and startling pronouncements but more about wanting to maximize his air time before he slides into total irrelevance.

Watching the video, I was struck by how badly he managed the assembled media. For someone who claims to have been inspired by Trump (and Bernardi was even in New York during the US election where he met with key Trump campaign coordinators), he seems to have learned nothing from Trump’s own example. The US president would have made mincemeat of the reporters that badgered Bernardi with inane questions, misdirections, non-sequiturs, and straw-man arguments. But Bernardi merely attempted to parrot his stock lines while meekly attempting to steer the journalists back to his core arguments. It just went in circles the entire time which is situation completely normal here in Australian politics.

It used to be the standard situation in US politics until Donald Trump arrived and blew up the entire media edifice. He got them to dance to his tune. Trump is not a Republican and nor is he a conservative. He is something entirely new, and that was what was needed because conservatism has failed, and it cannot be resurrected because it has been failing for fifty years. You can’t fix that amount of failure. You need to start again with something completely new. You need to blow up the system.

So I watched Bernardi’s performance with a heavy heart. But I still gave him some measure of hope to succeed. That hope lasted for a whole five days. At the end of last week, conservative opinion pages exploded with the terrible news that a conservative cartoonist had made a nasty and horrible joke against gays and Muslims at a private function. I mean, who needs the Left when we do their own dirty work for them? But then Senator Bernardi dived head-first into the action, damning Pickering and former conservative politician Ross Cameron who was present at the function.

“Outspoken independent senator Cory Bernardi has hit out at cartoonist Larry Pickering and former Liberal MP Ross Cameron for delivering an ‘own goal’ against conservatives by making ‘totally inappropriate’ comments at a controversial fundraising dinner.”

Bernardi has learned nothing from Trump. He believes that we can save conservatism by damning conservatives in our midst for saying things that are deemed unacceptable by the Left. Conservatives have become so inured to the progressive Left political agenda that they parrot it as their own and use it to police their own ranks. Australian conservatives cannot be trusted to undo the damage done by progressivism because they themselves have been infected by the same virus. Conservatism is dead in the water and Bernardi’s new party is a dead man walking. It is over even before it has begun.

Contrast Australian conservatives’ performances with the release of Marine le Pen’s first campaign advertisement.

A commenter at centre-right blog Catallaxy files took issue with the clip.

“Interesting Le Pen had wall to wall whiteys.

You think she’d have a least a few tokens from the colonies — most of them are productive, industrious Frenchmen.”

This is completely incorrect and misleading. No natives from French colonies are Frenchmen, productive or otherwise. A native Algerian is no more a Frenchman than a native Frenchman is an Algerian. This is the great lie of multiculturalism that has been swallowed and is now regurgitated by conservatives, which has resulted in an appalling level of cognitive dissonance.

But Le Pen knows and understands this. It is no coincidence that there are only white people in that video because only white people are French, just as only black people are Ugandan. Three decades of identity politics has resulted in the inevitable push-back. If you make everything about identity, don’t be surprised when the people that you hate go and reclaim their identity for their own.

We had our own version of Le Pen in Australia. Unfortunately, she was twenty years early. In 1996 when Pauline Hanson warned that we were in danger of being swamped by Asians she was laughed off the national political stage. But anyone walking around an Australian city today who is intellectually honest and who has the power of sight must concede that she was correct.

Hanson is still on the political stage and she is back stronger than ever. Only she has the potential at this stage to turn the rot around. Conservatives have ceded the playing field, and while they do not admit it yet, their actions betray their obsolescence.

This article was originally published at where Adam Piggott writes regularly and brilliantly.