Bill Shorten energy policy
(Image: AAP/Paul Braven)

Should Labor prevail in this election -- which, thanks to a week of public holidays, currently hangs somewhere between phoney war and shooting match -- then Bill Shorten will continue his run as one of the luckiest men alive. That is not because he is not capable or intelligent, but because he is squeezing in at the very end of a historical period when a figure like Bill Shorten is acceptable as the "natural" candidate of a progressive political party.

Across the world, the "long compromise" in progressive politics is falling apart. The notion that left elements of such parties should accept a centrist and safe figure for the purposes of electability, in exchange for a few limited policy wins, is going out the door.

In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has seen off two challenges from the parliamentary party who largely hate him and his genuine social democratic program (so far from full or even part socialism, it isn’t funny). In the US, Bernie Sanders is the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, and his rival to the right, Elizabeth Warren, is wildly to the left of what was thought sellable even four years ago. In France, the Socialist Party (PS) collapsed because the insurgent candidacy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon quickly became viable (and Emmanuel Macron jumped in only after the PS had collapsed). In Germany, the Social Democratic Party has ceded about a third of its support to the Greens -- now on 20%. In New Zealand, Jacinda Arden.