Victory, they say, has many fathers but defeat’s always an orphan.

So who will claim patrimony over Tony Abbott’s ascension, a triumph that, on almost any reading, represents a massive problem for the Liberal Party, at least in terms of, like, winning elections and stuff?

Amidst all the other architects of this Temple of Fail, spare a thought for the intellectuals of the conservative movement, who have been, whether consciously or not, building toward such an outcome for decades. That is, whatever purpose the Culture Wars were originally intended to serve, by the end of the Howard years, they’d spawned a generation of writers who would publish, write or say anything as long as it infuriated the Left. Hence the monthly provocation that calls itself Quadrant; hence the Opinion Pages of the Australian.

Climate change isn’t happening. If it is, it’s not caused by humans. If people do bear some responsibility, we can’t do anything to stop it – and, besides, any carbon reduction scheme would cost too much.

These positions might be mutually incompatible. But for the tribalist Right – the intellectuals who learned their craft in the wars over political correctness or frontier massacres – any position that opposes action on global warming deserves a hearing, because getting a rise out of inner-city liberals has come to be a victory in-and-of itself.

Did any of the Right-wing pundits who fostered the denialist cause ever sit down and decide that, in the wake of Howard’s defeat, the conservative movement would best counter Kevin Rudd’s steady popularity by installing the most ferociously reactionary leader the Liberal Party has ever seen?

Of course they didn’t! But such things have a momentum of their own. If you build up a cadre who identify political principle with instinctively and obsessively opposing anything that inner city electorates hold dear, it’s scarcely surprising that they can’t stomach Malcolm Turnbull.

In the wake of September 11, the conservative pundits threw themselves behind George W. Bush. The man might have been a dribbling idiot but, hey, he annoyed the Left, as the late Frank Devine once more or less explicitly put it.

So we had regime change in Iraq. And now we’ve got regime change in the Liberal Party. Somehow, one suspects they will work out equally well.

Peter Fray

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