But Saturday’s election suggests that the Melbourne Anglo upper middle class has now switched to the Labor Party and the Greens. You can check the voting at the Australian Election Commission website not just by electorate but by individual polling booths, and this gives a good indication of the demographics of the results.
For instance, in the Camberwell booth the results were 646 for the Liberals, 562 for Labor and 338 for the Greens. So that’s 646 vs 900. In the Hawthorn booth, the results were 655 for the Liberals, 682 for Labor and 392 for the Greens, which adds up to 655 vs 1074. In Ivanhoe, it was 599 for the Liberals, 921 for Labor and 354 for the Greens, which is 599 vs 1275.
The leafier parts of Melbourne are becoming increasingly left-wing, with both Labor and the Greens picking up much of the vote.
Should we be surprised by this political realignment? I don’t think so. There are at least two reasons that would lead you to expect these wealthier areas to trend to the left.
First, the justification for wealth in a liberal society is the claim to be inclusive and egalitarian. A “progressive” leftism therefore fits the mindset of the “new aristocracy” much better than the Liberal Party’s appeals to lower taxation or to law and order. Similarly, the aspiration now within the upper classes is to belong to the higher echelons (the analytical/managerial level) of a globalised workforce (this is what the literature of private schools, even Catholic ones, promises to parents). Liberal Party appeals to small business values and good economic management won’t resonate much with people with global managerial/financial class aspirations.
Second, the schools (including the elite private schools) have been dominated for at least 20 years now by radically left-wing teachers. If you hand your children over to be educated by passionately left-wing women, then it’s not surprising if political values move to the left, particularly among the more intellectually oriented social classes.
So what we have now is red Melbourne. The upper classes and those in the middle classes who aspire to upper class status vote left. The welfare classes, and various special interest groups, also vote left. That leaves the Liberal Party with the more socially conservative parts of the working and lower middle classes, as well as independent tradesmen and small business owners.
It’s likely, if these blocs hold, that the Labor Party will be the natural party of government in Victoria. The question, then, is how the Liberal Party responds to this.
For decades, the Liberal Party strategy was successful. At election time, the Libs would make appeals to socially conservative voters, but when in office would run things mostly along big business, right-liberal lines.
One option for the Victorian Liberals would be to follow Labor in pitching their campaign rhetoric more to the left. In other words, they would no longer try to draw in socially conservative voters.
If they take this option, it will open up a large political space on the right. It could be an opportune moment for a genuinely non-liberal, right-wing party to build a voter base.
There are other scenarios. If there’s an economic crash, then voters might turn to the Liberal Party as better economic managers. Possibly, too, as the Anglo upper class recedes demographically, other political configurations might emerge.
And for traditionalists? We are clearly on the outer of upper class culture right now. The important thing is that we make ourselves known as an alternative and that we continue to develop our organisation on the ground (part of the appeal of which is simply providing an alternative space for people who have to endure politically correct workplaces). Perhaps we could also think of ways that we could encourage the formation of a genuinely non-liberal electoral party, one with relatively broad appeal (i.e. not the full traditionalist program) but that would represent socially conservative voters on issues such as family, nation and culture.