October 15, 2007


Influence will live on after PM's gone (Phillip Adams, October 16, 2007, The Australian)

[E]ven in the event of the predicted Labor landslide, Howard is triumphant. He has changed this nation irrevocably, caused damage beyond repair. And he'll be replaced by a Labor government of impeccably conservative credentials.

You see the same phenomenon in the US. Yes, the Democrats surprised themselves in the mid-terms last November. But any analysis of the modest victory shows it was driven by a new style of Democrat. Not a pectoral-thumping liberal but a cautious, conservative and (frequently) emphatically Christian Democrat. Iffy on abortion, hostile to gun control, ready to soft-pedal on withdrawal from Iraq.

Although the Democrats may claim control of the Senate and Congress, their performance has been woeful. And their leading candidates in the race for the White House fall over themselves being tediously moderate.

The US is sick to death of George W. Bush, just as the Brits were of Tony Blair and we are of Howard. But this is not leading to a rampaging era of reform. Rather, it's a time for political overcaution, for fiddling at the margins. This in itself is not new. Thatcherism didn't end with Margaret Thatcher or with the defeat of the Conservatives by New Labour.

Blair accepted, far too readily, that history had moved on, that Labour had to keep its distance from the Left and the trade unions, that privatisation was a fact of life, that an era of right-wing radicalism had remade Britain and much of the wider world. Nor did Bill Clinton repudiate Reaganism. Rather than drive a stake through its cold heart, he warmed it a little.

And never forget that the transformation of Australia, the privatisations and deregulation, began with Bob Hawke and Paul Keating in the 1980s. The so-called Third Way is as much their invention as anyone's: letting capital off the leash while reining in the unions predated Howard by many years. Blair and Clinton watched Hawke and Keating with fascination.

We live in the Anglosphere that Augusto Pinochet and Margaret Thatcher bequeathed us. Whichever party is more closely identified with the Third Way--though folks prefer to dress it up in different names--will win the elections in Australia, Canada, England and America.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 15, 2007 6:52 AM

Therefore you're expecting Hilary to win?

Posted by: Genecis at October 15, 2007 2:30 PM

Not if the Republican advocates personal SS, expanded HSAs & school vouchers, none of which she can touch because of the Looney Left.

Posted by: oj at October 15, 2007 2:48 PM

This is Phillip Adams; he's the aussie version of Krugman, Friedman & Rich combined.

Posted by: narciso at October 15, 2007 5:23 PM