While handing out how-to-vote cards at the recent Federal election, my overall impression of Liberal voters was that they were angry. And rude. How did I know which voters were Liberals? Because they were angry and rude, and usually brusquely refused to take the Labor how-to vote-card that I politely offered them. I was even told to fuck off by one of them.
The booth I was working on was in a well-off area of Adelaide. One of the most well-off areas. Most of the angry Liberal voters were driving expensive cars and wore designer clothes. But they weren’t acting like the gentile middle-to-upper class which they no doubt think they belong to. They were acting like angry bogans.
When I thought about it harder, I realised that, for the 6 years of the Labor government, all we really heard from Liberal supporters was anger. Ranting and ravings, modeled on shock-jock rage. But why were they so angry? When you asked them why, you just got more bile, so it was never clear what they were angry about.
Some people have suggested to me that Liberals will always be angry when Labor is in power. It upsets their sense of entitlement. It upsets their belief that they were born to rule. I guess it’s the same anger that rich bosses feel when their workers unite to negotiate a wage rise. The boss doesn’t like to have to negotiate with his underlings. It makes him (usually him) feel very nervous. His outrageously overinflated share of the profits earned through the work of his employees is threatened. This overall ‘vibe’ of anger was probably at the heart of most of the anger we saw from Liberal supporters during the last two terms of the Labor government.
Add to that the anger about the government’s work to protect the community from the catastrophic effects of climate change. Apparently trying to do something about climate change makes Liberals very angry. Especially if this action is taken by a female leader. And the anger about the government spending money to protect the economy from falling into the panic of the Global Financial Crisis. It seems the strong economy Labor produced made them even angrier! This is the sort of anger which I put in the ‘loony’ category. The very same category for the anger from Republican supporters in the US who are happy for the government to stop working altogether, as long as they don’t get universal healthcare. ‘How dare you try to help us!’ they all scream in an unhinged chorus. Then there’s the standard old misogynist anger that a woman was put in charge in the first place. How dare she tell us what to do! We’ll show her! (And they did).
Abbott capitalised on this unwarranted anger. He encouraged it and controlled it, like a conductor directing a choir of whiners. He told them he was angry too. But never really explained why. Now he’s in government, he’s quickly backing away from all the promises he made to reduce the anger, which wasn’t necessary in the first place. One might even see this as a clever move, if he wasn’t making such of hash of it. He just looks weak.
And this is where I get to the reason for this post. Surely Labor supporters were the ones who should have been angry? Surely what we went through for the last 6 years was the sort of experience which would give any person a murderous rage?
As a Labor supporter, I watch Liberal supporters frothing at the mouth, and I wonder how on earth they would have survived the recent experience of a Labor supporter. I don’t think they would have. I think they would have exploded in a fit of rage had they gone through what we have gone through. How would they feel about the mainstream media campaigning against their government, with Murdoch taking the lead and the ABC and Fairfax following suit? What would they do if their party’s successful policies were painted as failures, and the only thing they read in the paper was about Kevin bloody Rudd? How would they react to the abuse hurled at their first female Prime Minister, a woman of incredible heroism who maintained her dignity throughout? How would they react if one of their MPs was stalked by the media for an alleged crime committed long before he was an MP, while at the same time Abbott was hypocritically allowed to pay back thousands of dollars of tax-payer money that he spent promoting his book for private profit, and it never got any coverage at all? How could they live with the inaccurate perception of ‘chaos’ and ‘dysfunction’ for their party while in government, when in actual fact the government was incredibly successful at passing progressive reform through a minority parliament? What if they had to experience Ashbygate and the injustice of the scandal around Slipper, who was a Liberal to begin with! And what would they do if they saw their favourite progressive reforms – the NBN, the Carbon Price, the Mining Tax, Gonski school funding and various other achievements of the Labor government now being torn apart by an inept Abbott government? What would their reaction be to see the new government hide while in office? To run away from public statements? For the Prime Minister to embarrass the country every time he opens his mouth?
The difference between the anger of Liberal supporters and Labor supporters is that Labor supporters know why we’re angry. We have justifiable reasons for our anger. And we know how to turn this anger into a productive rage. I don’t think progressive voters worked it out early enough, and this is why the Labor election campaign was so lacking in passion. But we understand now. It took the shock of seeing Abbott declare himself Prime Minister for our anger to crystalise into action. Look at how quickly we came up with a million dollars to keep the Climate Council running. We don’t become a rabble when threatened, like Liberal voters do with their shock-jock training. We become more focused. We become a people’s movement. Unlike Abbott, who relies on votes from people far too stingy and selfish to put their hand in their pocket, and instead has to promise policy favors to mining and media billionaires to get the funds he needs, Labor supporters will be funding the 2016 campaign ourselves. And using our passionate, committed anger to make it a success. The Labor leadership vote is just the beginning of this movement. We will unite to make sure Abbott’s angry supporters feel the disappointment of losing government. And we will make sure this happens in just one term. The #OneTermTony campaign has already begun.Follow @Vic_Rollison
i handed out how to vote cards for labor and i too was treated rudely..the most astonishing was when a man was loudly asking where the commies are the well groomed upper middle class lady handing out the how to vote cards for the nationals pointed at me and in a loud voice said there she is…????
I did not hand out how to vote cards as I knew it would end up with me being arrested for assault
yes I was angry
yes I get angry when someone driving a $100,000 luxury 4×4 complains about how hard their life is an how the government is stealing all their money
excellent article; perspectives spot-on. Also galling the way The Entitled ‘Class’ co-opted the word for their own use, using it against those who get bugger-all, compared with their own lurks and perks and endemic protection!
I was in Qld when the ’74 State elections routed Labor and Joh Bjelke-Peterson won. What struck me was that the Polling booths in Ipswich and I presume pretty much all over Qld was that the people handing out Labor how-to-vote were tired, aged war veterans in pin-striped suits (the old type) whilst the Liberal camp were decked out in blue/white clothing; young energetic people with enthusiasm and charm. Straight away, I knew Labor was doomed.
Progress to today – the same tactic deployed – offer a fresh start after denigrating Labor with negativity for years. Enough voters bought this; enough to give Abbott power – but in my view – no mandate to which they claim. Certainly no mandate to implement actions we were not told about. Certainly not to sign away our Sovereignty by signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) with the clauses that would allow overseas Big Corporations to sue Australia if our legislation ‘harms the brand’. I’d like to see more understanding of this issue, more discussion (there’s not much time – Yanks want it signed off by this month. Victoria Rollison, pursue this issue at all cost – please!
I too handed out how to vote cards for Labor in Qld. It was a very blue ribbon seat. There were voters who politely didn’t take any, those that politely refused just Labor cards and those nutters who directed their venom at me. I can’t understand why these seemingly normal people thought it was acceptable to swear and abuse volunteers.
I didn’t see anyone being rude to the Coalition volunteers but many Liberals were very nasty to the Greens too. Read in to that as you will. I know the conclusions I came to.
What a great article. Thanks for continuing to write great articles
Great article Victoria. I also handed out how to vote cards. I live in a small Rural area already knew that Liberals would have more votes in my area. Which they did. You can tell a Liberal voter they are very serious over their voting and life in general whilst handing out how to vote cards in another town for early voting I was not suprised at the people who I had know for over 35 years that were hanging around the woman who was running for Liberals. You could just pick them, no smiles, nothing, one Lady yelled at her son “no we only take these ones Liberals”.
One of the reasons I find Liberals, do not like Labor is that they are angry that people can get welfare. After all it is their hard earn money. Labor gives it away far too freely. So they are really angry and frustrated. I think they are mostly all just frustrated with life not a happy lot at all.
Anger can be a wonderful tool if used in a productive way so dont waste it,harness that anger and energy into a concerted and productive campaign to get rid of this awful pathetic excuse of a Government and turn this One Trick Pony into a ” One Term Tony”.
You are totally on the ball again Vic. We only have to take a long look at Angry-Joe, who cannot add on his fingers, let along subtract his toes without making some type of political error. And Yes!!! We are still waiting to see his balance sheet prospectus on Abbotts election promises that will never add up to anything positive. So we will probably have that village idiot Hall reverberating his spur in reply to this reply as usual.
Abbott will never be able to stop the refugee boats from coming to Australia.
Please change ‘gentile’ to ‘genteel’.
Nice work, Victoria. I hope you can maintain this level of energy and enthusiasm for the next 3 years (and beyond).
The boats have been coming to our northern shores since 1975, the end of the Vietnam War. No side of politics has ever been able to stop them. Rather than stop them spend money on processing claims quicker, i.e put more people on it, and he Government expense of housing, clothing, food etc will diminish as they will either returned to their coutry or assimilated into Australian society.
I see more than a bit of projection in your characterisation of liberal supporters on their way to the Polling booths. After six years of internal crisis within Labor while they were in government why on earth do you think that those on the conservative side of politics should be at all pleased or respectful to those from your side of the fence? That said I saw none of the antagonism you cite at the polling booth I attended. In fact the party faithful doing their duty all had a far more friendly attitude to both the voters and each other.
That said I can’t help wondering if the reaction that you got was a consequence of your own demeanour because you must have known that Labor was toast even before you started.
On the issue of climate change what makes people angry, besides the cost is the utter futility of the carbon tax which does noting at all to change the climate and when it comes to it being legislated by Gillard, it was not her gender that earned our ire it was the simple fact that she swore that there would be no carbon tax and yet to get into bed with the greens she enacted one and thus forever destroyed her own credibility. Man or woman you just can’t treat the voters like that without them hating you.
Iain Hall, you sound just like all the LNP supporters I know.
Yes Joe you have hit the nail on the head without bending the nail. Great Stuff.
Well Joe there were more of us than there were Labor supporters which is why Labor is now in opposition and why they will stay there for a long time…
I don’t really believe that LNP supporters are in the absolute majority. It is more that so many otherwise sane voters were convinced to be ANTI the Labor govt. How did that happen and what can we do to bring these people back to reality?
Good question for those who swing on the drop of a hat, when it comes to voting governments in and out of a job. Abbott has definitely done a good job on coning those swinging fools this time around and they in the end, will have nobody to blame for the mess they find themselves in than Messes Abbott and Co will eventually stuff the economy up completely.
About will never be able to Stop the Boats.
I feel like crying when I read your article. I agree totally with your sentiments. I don’t know how I am going to cope with the next three years. We just have to keep repeating OneTermTony, PhoneyTony, Joeliar and this is the worst government ever. Apparently, this is what wins government, not having a vision for Australia. Just slogans, just three words and that does it. I really hope that Abbott stuffs up big time. Can anyone tell me why there hasn’t been a Newspoll out yet and do you know that they don’t have to go to an election until the new government is in the house and then it is three years from then. Abbott is playing it for all its worth. God help us. I just hope also that something comes out about the Ashbygate saga, because I believe there could be ramifications for the LNP from that. I am hoping. I also hope that the rorts scandal just keeps building. How can Abbott go after Slipper when he himself used for more tax payers money.
Please give me some good news soon. Also, in answer to an above blog, apparently on The New Matilda blog someone wrote an article that it only needs 30,000 votes and Abbott is gone. So maybe there is hope. I also hope that Clive gives it to him big time, because he deserves everything thrown at him. I will never forgive him for insulting Bernie Banton, putting Pauline Hanson in jail and treating Julia Gillard disgracefully. Shame Australia shame for voting for them. Also, I wonder how the Nationals will feel when they allow coal seam gas to go ahead in their electorates. Will Barnaby save them!