Look, a record-breaking swing in the axed PM’s old seat, costing the government its majority, was always going to unleash a torrent of ink akin to the blood surging from the elevator doors in The Shining, and become something of a political pareidolia. So a few weird takes from our political pundits were always going to get through. But this has been particularly true for the hard right of the media — who had spent three years baying for Turnbull’s blood, and, finally having got it, became furious when he quit parliament.

Crikey has identified four main ways those conservatives are using analysis of the byelection result to vent their anger.

Well, that went well…  sort of

Not quite as bad as the others, this still manages to be a very odd take. NSW political editor for The Australian Andrew Clennell surveyed the wreckage of Wentworth and concluded, along with the government, “phew, that could’ve been a lot worse”.  

Scott Morrison knew the government was in dire straits in Wentworth early last week — about the time he made his Jerusalem embassy announcement — and felt the Liberal Party actually clawed back ground in the by-election battle, leading to Saturday’s close result.

Why would Malcolm Turnbull do this?

Goatee-sporting toddler Chris Kenny has been spouting this line even before the defeat was confirmed: axed prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is a raging narcissist whose reputation will never recover from his nihilistic decision to do as he had promised and leave a party that had made it exceedingly clear it didn’t want him, bringing this byelection about. And if that weren’t enough, he didn’t even campaign for the man who would replace him. An absolute dog act from the former PM. 

The Oz then rounded up a few senior conservatives to say the same thing on its front page this morning. 

Of course there is no chance that, had Turnbull shown up, the same people would’ve claimed his distracting presence, a wordless reminder of the chaos in the Coalition, was equally culpable. 

Wentworth is a stupid seat anyway

Rowan Dean, continuing to be completely relevant, trashed Turnbull before concluding, “Good riddance to Wentworth and Malcolm Turnbull and the lot of them. [The Liberals] don’t need Wentworth.” 

Relentless self parody Nick Cater took this a step further, describing Wentworth as removed from the mythical “real Australia”: 

Wentworth is a land removed from the daily struggles faced by other Australians, a place where rising electricity prices barely touch the hip-pocket nerve, where God’s own airconditioner blows gently off summer waters, and ‘action’ on climate change, by which they mean ‘subsidies’, boosts the share portfolio.

Presumably these toffee-nosed, Chardonnay-supping dandies don’t represent “real” Australia — which an English expat and think tank employee like Cater knows better than anyone.

Grievance salads

Almost nothing Piers Akerman has been paid to write down by the Tele has made any sense — beyond being written in English — for quite some time, but even by his standards, his piece from yesterday is a profoundly unpalatable cocktail of half-formed ideas and bitterness.

Noting the high proportion of university-educated people in the electorate, he said “arguably, the more time you spend in an Australian university these days, the greater the likelihood that you’re actually not very bright at all, at least in terms of common sense”, before enumerating a shopping list of grumpy Tory grievances: uni teaches people to accept gender fluidity, prefer totalitarianism to democracy and think renewables are anything other than an expensive and unworkable waste of time. 

Of course, Akerman then fails to explain why these Islamo-fascist latte-guzzlers voted for a demonstrably conservative independent like Kerryn Phelps.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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