It’s been only twenty-five days since Craig rose to speak in parliament of the accusations against him, but in that time the shape of our democracy has altered considerably.
The Liberal Party no longer holds the high ground, as they did for nearly a year. They are seen as feral whingers, persecutors of the weak, defenders of Gina’s two million dollars an hour, fellow travellers with Murdoch’s interference in two democracies, and, lately, cheats with numbers. Two of their Premiers have gone into deficit when they said they wouldn’t, and one won’t say where his cuts will occur. Joe Hockey won’t either. They seem like amateurs, to almost everyone who cares to look them over. They are going, like their heroes the Tea Party, into a kind of self-lacerating road rage, refusing even to discuss the economy, and hiding their plans from the nation, lest they be shown up for what they are.
Labor, meanwhile, has contrived a booming economy, one quite unlike the shambles that is Europe, or the job-scarce high-debt race-to-the-boneyard that is the USA, and is envied world-wide for its numerate calm and civic good manners. It has attacked Big Tobacco, protected the Reef, made war on the big polluters, given money to pensioners and employed Bob Carr, the best Foreign Minister on earth, to free, if he can, imprisoned Australians overseas, and bring to our shores the interesting women Schapelle Corby and Aung San Suu Kyii. The Liberals’ view that Julie Bishop would do all this better seems idiotic by now, and so does the premise that Joe Hockey knows what he is doing.
That high ground, once lost, is hard to reconquer, and cannot now be regained by Tony Abbott, who is rightly regarded by most people as a busted flush and a bruised and crumbling bully. He is highly intelligent, and philosophically acute, but fatally impatient, and did not understand that his true opponent was something more than Gillard’s plasticine personality and Rudd’s pert, proud indecisiveness. It was also a hundred years of the Labor Party getting things done, and seeking, with some success, a better world.
And this, in the last few weeks, has become plain.
And the Liberal Party has been shown for what it is, and it isn’t pretty, and, failing a Turnbull resurgence, it is gone for all money.
And will never rise again.