On the weekend, Graham Quirk led the LNP team to a massive victory in the Brisbane City Council with a significant swing to the LNP. At the same time, Jackie Trad came very close to losing the South Brisbane by-election with a further swing to the LNP on top of the massive swing at the recent state election.
The results from those two elections destroy any theory that the electorate might snap back after giving Labor a kicking. There appears to have been a significant shift in voter loyalty.
There are only two states in Australia – South Australia and Victoria – where Labor has any realistic expectation that it might win the next state election. It is still behind in both of those states according to Newspoll, just not so disastrously far behind as it is everywhere else.
The Gillard Government is terminal. Those who think otherwise are kidding themselves. The results in Queensland and Brisbane make previously unthinkable results possible. There is a real possibility that the ALP is headed for something similar at the federal level. There is a real possibility that it will not hold a single seat in Western Australia or Queensland at the next federal election.
So what’s next? If the Labor Party is wiped out at the federal election as seems likely, it will have major structural problems. It won’t be able to raise money because no one will seriously entertain the possibility that they will be in government any time soon. They will not have the infrastructure that comes from having a critical mass of elected officials.
That lack of infrastructure will put the Labor Party in an historically weak position. It has been in a similarly weak position, but not in competition with another serious left-wing force. Now the Greens are devouring the Labor Party from the left and represent serious competition for the left wing vote.
So, before long, the opposition to the Coalition, now increasingly identified by the Queensland moniker “LNP”, will consist of the of two parties, the ALP and the Greens, neither with the wherewithal or the popular acceptance to make a go of things alone.
Where does all that lead? My guess is that within this decade, we will see the left have its equivalent of Menzies’ 1944 conference that saw formation of the Liberal Party. It’s at least a couple of elections away, I think. The Greens will not be able to accept for a while yet that there dreams of governing in their own right will not come true. The Labor Party has a lot of baggage of which it must let go before it could subscribe to it.
What will be necessary (and what I think likely) is a couple of big drubbings in a row at the federal level, and continued bad results in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. After that, the left will not be able to bear things any longer. They won’t be able to bear what I suspect will be an extended Abbott supremacy. That is when the re-alignment is likely to happen.