Pepsi v Coke - How to tell Labor from Liberal
If you ever suspected that our major political parties got their leaders mixed up on the way to Question Time, this week’s Essential Report will come as no surprise.
In a sign of life catching up with the punch-line, half the nation now thinks that our political parties are becoming closer and the majority of them think it’s no bad thing.
The convergence of our major parties has not happened overnight, the rise of centrist politics around the world has been a hallmark of the post-Cold War consensus. But in Australia it has reached its zenith, where the last two leaders of the Liberal Party both openly flirted with their political opponents.
In the case of Malcolm Turnbull, 63 per cent of voters say this revelation makes little difference to their attitude to him - a sign that either we either no longer value Party loyalty, or that Malcolm has totally bottomed out in our estimation.
At the same time, the Labor Party has attempted to distance itself from its union base, making high drama of any opportunity to stand up to union “muscle” even if it means jailing workers for attending a union meeting.
In NSW, the Liberal Party is attempting to outflank the ALP from the Left, opposing the privatisation of the power industry and positioning itself as the champion of public services, while the besieged Government pins its hopes to its AAA credit rating.
It’s enough to squeeze what little passion remains out of the political debate - if everything tastes like cola, who cares if its Coke or Pepsi?
So, as a special community service, we today unveil The Punch’s Definitive Guide To Telling The Difference Between Operatives from the ALP and the Liberal Party.
1. Labor operatives flaunt their business credentials while Liberal operatives flaunt their working class credentials (including the fact they once rented!)
2. When someone from Labor talks of values they are grasping for their Light on the Hill. When someone from the Liberals talks of values, they are grasping for their stock portfolio
3. Labor identities have nicknames that involve the unimaginative shortening of their surname; Liberals just go by their surname
4. Liberal identities have three properties; Labor identities have three chins
5. Labor characterises Liberals as social vandals, while Liberals characterise Labor as fiscal vandals
6. Liberal figures seek closer ties with the Chinese; Labor figures eat Chinese
7. The Labor Party battles branch-staking, the Liberal Party doesn’t have branches
8. Labor women wear faux furs and animal prints while Liberal women wear real pearls and twin sets
9. Liberal ex-leaders are statistically more likely to live out their days with their wives. Ironically, Labor ex-leaders are statistically more likely to keep their pants on in public
10. Labor ex-leaders are more likely to write books that people will read
The last point is significant for me. Labor’s rich history of ideas and idealism means that despite the closing of the ideological gap, there is still a difference for me.
And every now and then, leaders like Paul Keating and John Howard come along who actually shift the axis from the centre and attempt to write history in their political favour. In doing so love them or loathe them - they give politics back its meaning.
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