May 11, 2011
Australian social democracy is in urgent need of a period of renewal and reconstruction. It has to confront the fundamental causes of its vulnerability, loss of trust and élan in past years, reconnecting with both the contemporary challenges of government and a more educated electorate. Thus public concerns over migration, identity and culture loom large in Australian politics. Social democrats appear to be paying a heavy price in this regard, losing ground to parties on the centre-right and far right. They have lost trust and support across the social spectrum to a resurgent right.
Tim Bale in Exploring the cultural challenges to social democracy says that the right – helped by its friends in the media – seems to be able to supply answers that resonate with, and solutions which cut through to, ordinary people, be they working or middle class.
perhaps you’re feeling like you don’t belong in your own country, like you’re losing out to foreigners when it comes to getting a job, a home, a doctor’s appointment, a place for your kids at a good school – or at least one in which most of the kids can speak the language? The answer is equally obvious: the liberal elite has let us all down, made us part of a multi-racial, multicultural experiment that none of us ever voted for but that suited them perfectly, providing the nannies, the nurses, the builders and the barristas that make their lives easier but keep our wages down and render some parts of our towns and cities unrecognisable or even turn them into virtual no-go zones, fit only for scroungers, criminals and even terrorists. The tide has to beturned, borders have to be closed, rules have to be obeyed, political correctness and this human rights nonsense has to end. Those who don’t like it know where they can go.
He adds that the most viable option for the centre left, which usually tries to meander and muddle through, is to bite the bullet, namely, social democrats may have to admit that there are limits to the tolerance and understanding of ordinary people and recognise that it is fundamentally undemocratic, as well as unrealistic, to stretch things beyond that limit.