I used to think that the worst part of attending an event run by the Mad Right was the need for strong liquor. But now that I know about Cambridge Analytica, whisky will not suffice. Thanks to hearing Miranda Devine use the alt-right term “cuckservatives” last night, my Facebook feed will likely now feature gun-toting bikies and tattoo ads.

Miranda was speaking at a debate entitled “Do We Need a Trump?” organised by a fringe Liberal Party group called the Menzies Research Centre, whose executive director is one of the those ubiquitous transplanted poms/News Ltd columnists/Sky News ranters we seem to attract: Nick Cater. Miranda and Daily Telegraph opinion editor James Morrow were arguing for the affirmative, with journalist and foreign policy analyst Tom Switzer and PR Parnell McGuinness (daughter of Paddy) for the negative.

The problem for Switzer and McGuinness, who both actually spoke quite convincingly, was that they were up against a pair of seasoned show-offs. Although Miranda has now fallen out with Tony Abbott, describing him as a “delcon” (deluded conservative), she has mastered his ability to find a few key phrases and keep repeating them. Most of the current Liberal government were “cuckservatives” she said a few times, to the vast amusement of the audience. It’s a loaded word – a combination of “cuckold” and “conservative”; coined by the alt-right to describe a conservative politician who, once elected, embraces progressive values. Miranda was using the term, which first appeared on websites such as 4chan in 2015, to describe moderates like Malcolm Turnbull. It’s also very popular with white supremacists, who use it to describe white politicians who promote the interests of Jews and people of colour. Just using it has probably earned me a lifetime membership of Reclaim Australia; by next week, I’ll have a date with Geert Wilders.

Switzer, whose ABC Radio program Between the Lines is actually very listenable, said the reaction to Trump’s election by the “metropolitan sophisticates” had made him anti-anti-Trump.

Trump would never happen here because the pre-requisite poor economic conditions didn’t exist, he said. Australia has had 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth, no dramatic increase in inequality and no backlash against globalisation. And, thanks to John Howard (his name was invoked several times in hushed tones), we had a great immigration system, Switzer said.

Conservatives can even go on campus here to give a lecture, he said triumphantly, unlike universities in the US.

Miranda said that she was probably the only person in the room to have met Donald Trump and that he is “taller, better looking and less orange” than he appears on television.

She asked rhetorically, “Do we need to make Australia great again? Is the Pope a Catholic?” Mentioning the Pope caused loud booing from the audience. I’m an atheist but even I find that offensive, what’s wrong with the current Pope? But it was your standard audience at a conservative event – overwhelmingly male, fairly old and only one person who wasn’t white. Ladies, if you want to pick up a suburban lawyer with a penchant for slip-ons, join up now and take your pick.

Miranda said that she wanted “our own personal Visigoth” to “stand up to identity politics, stand up for free speech”. She said she was “fed up with politicians who kowtow to the new McCarthyism” and wants someone who “doesn’t care about fainting-couch feminism and does not care about tut-tutting media. Only a barbarian can defy political correctness.” What Australia needs is a leader who cares about “faith, flag and family and the dignity of every human life,” she declared.

The three older ladies in front of me were having a great time, chanting “30 Newspolls”, like the witches’ chorus in Macbeth, every time someone mentioned Turnbull. Is that horrendous event really due next week? Cambridge Analytica take note: I’m having the week off.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey