Morrison and Dutton: jackals of the ruling class

Submitted by martin on 23 August, 2018 - 6:55 Author: Martin Thomas
Morrison, left, and Dutton, right

"The silent minority" - minority, yes, that's what he said - "are fed up with bodies like the Civil Liberties Council and the Refugee Action Collective, and certainly the dictatorship of the trade union movement".

That was Peter Dutton in his maiden speech, who on 24 August forced Malcolm Turnbull to resign as Liberal Party leader. Dutton wanted rid of Malcolm Turnbull because Turnbull, though solidly right-wing on all the core economic issues, is a social liberal of the sort commonplace in most richer capitalist countries.

In the final party room vote, Dutton failed to become the new Liberal leader and prime minister. But his defeat was by Scott Morrison, an only slightly more smoothed and polished representation of the Liberal right.

Dutton opposed same-sex marriage. He boycotted the parliamentary apology to the Stolen Generation. He opposes a republic. As a minister dealing with health and with immigration, he has been stridently right-wing even in Liberal terms. His politics are what you would expect from an ex-cop.

Morrison is the son of a cop, rather than an ex-cop, and more polished in manner. But he too opposed same-sex marriage. He too has been an especially mean-spirited immigration minister. He too tends to climate-change scepticism. Unlike Dutton (as far as we know) he is a full-on religious devotee, a member of a Pentecostalist sect.

Compared to British Tories, German Christian Democrats, or pre-Trump US Republicans, Australian conservative politics is shifting to the aggressive right wing of that ruling-class spectrum.

The move is similar to that with the US Republicans with Trump, or the French mainstream right (Les Republicains) with Laurent Wauquiez. It is internally generated, rather than coming from the pressure on the mainstream right of maverick forces (Trump, or Marine Le Pen's FN/RN in France: One Nation is not in the same league).

It offers hard-faced, illiberal, free-market policies, with little of the demagogic social-populist tone of Trump or the FN/RN or Salvini in Italy. The drift is reflected not only in the federal Parliament, but in the conservative press, like The Australian.

There is, as of now, no economic crisis pushing the Australian ruling class to more aggressive policies. The driving force here seems to be a long-term truth: if the labour movement quivers and retreats, that will make the ruling class want to come after us, rather than become generous and accommodating. If we're on the ground, they will enjoy kicking us.

Dutton is demagogic about the supposed "dictatorship of the trade union movement" - a trade union movement struggling to stop 15% density dropping even lower, legally banned from using industrial action except once every few years after EBA negotiations, and maybe not even then - he is demagogic about that precisely because he knows the real dictatorship is of the rich and the profiteers, and they can bash the unions with impunity.

Dutton and Morrison are jackals of the ruling class, feeding on the wounded.

The unions need to drop their modest, plaintive tone, and start rebuilding aggressively.

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