Queensland Labor’s lessons for state politics

Why is Labor’s era in Queensland coming to an end? The short answer is that Queensland is a naturally conservative state. I argue that different states may have a natural propensity to support Labor or the Coalition, levels of unionization, manufacturing employment, educational levels and ethnic diversity are significant here. However this does not imply that the natural minority party will never win an election. Queensland is a notable example Labor has dominated state politics for two decades but at the federal level Labor has only twice secured a majority of the two-party vote in this period. Continue reading

Labor without heartlands?

Been looking over Antony Green’s recent report (pdf) on the 2011 NSW election and inspired by comments from Penny Sharpe thought it was interesting to consider what it reveals about the disappearance of Labor’s heartlands and how 2011 compared to Labor’s most severe previous defeat in 1932. For 2011 Green provides lists of the best and worse polling booths for registered parties. There were six (!) booths where Labor polled over 60% of the first preference vote. Green doesn’t say how many polling booths there were across the state but a rough estimate suggests well over 2000. Three of the 60%+ Labor booths are rural indigenous communities (two in the ultra-safe National Party electorate of Barwon) the others are areas of extreme poverty and social exclusion. There are almost no Labor heartlands left where the party can rely on huge local majorities and were Labor is the hegemonic local force, even when the party does very poorly elsewhere. Some research I have done on the 1890s illustrates this: Labor had a low statewide vote during its first decade, there was no inevitable march to power, but the party did develop core regional strongholds from it advanced outward after 1901. Continue reading

Libertarians for sexual assault?

Why are libertarians so conservative? Libertarian intellectuals usually deny this insisting that they are beyond left and right, but libertarianism as a mass movement sits squarely on the right of the political spectrum as demonstrated by Ron Paul. One noteworthy example has been in debates about legislation proposed in Virginia to require women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion. Proponents of the legislation claim that this is not an assault: Continue reading

American persistence and the future of social democracy

It has been a popular meme in recent years that American power is in decline. China’s rise is impressive, although some predict a Chinese crash. However a recent report by HSBC on the world economy in 2050 casts doubt on the assumption of American decline and sheds some light on the prospects of social democracy. It predicts that by 2050 the US will indeed be the second-largest economy in the world, about 10% behind China. Continue reading

Why the 1967 referendum would be defeated in 2013

Recent analyses of public opinion In the United States have confirmed the significance of racial resentment for evaluations of Barack Obama. The report of the committee on the constitutional recognition of indigenous people has revived discussion of the lessons of the 1967 referendum. Unfortunately this discussion has ignored the significance of racial resentment in Australian politics.Recent Australian history demonstrates that the 1967 referendum would have been defeated if put to voters now.

The ‘no’ vote at this referendum was 9.23%  was small but significant. The ‘no’ vote was highest in rural and remote areas with a large indigenous population. It was over 18% in Moore, Canning and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, Leichardt & Kennedy in Queensland and Gwydir in New South Wales. The far right campaigned against the referendum, in particular the League of Rights. David Kemp, Monash political scientist and later Liberal MP and Minister under Howard, explained the ‘no’ vote:

The intensity of racial feeling is related to the extent of contact between the races and…the proposed constitutional amendment was identified as a proposal favourable to Aborigines. Continue reading

A French left without workers?

The rise of the French National Front evokes alarm on the left. Actually I think Marie Le Pen is unelectable whoever she runs against. The Presidential system in France was introduced to marginalize the Communist Party which could never secure a majority in a Presidential contest. Now the system works against the National Front. Whoever runs against le Pen is assured of victory. My concern is somewhat different. The National Front attracts increasing support from manual workers, Arthur Goldhammer in April: Continue reading

From Freidrich Hayek to Ron Paul & Rick Santorum

How are we understand divisions in American conservatism? Of the top three candidates in the Iowa caucuses two, Ron Paul & Rick Santorum, have expressed dissent with aspects of contemporary American conservatism. The key to understanding conservative politics is that conservatism is a disposition, conservatives know what they are against rather than what they are for. A substantial number of self-defined conservatives in the United States hold liberal views on economic and social policy. Continue reading