More about the election and politicians

May 29, 2019 by Professor Bill Rubinstein
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More evidence can now be given about the likely direction of the Jewish vote at the recent federal election.

Professor Bill Rubinstein

Virtually complete statistics from the three seats with many Jewish voters  ̶Goldstein and Macnamara in Victoria, and Wentworth in NSW  ̶ are now available.  For each seat I have listed the number of Ordinary (i.e., cast at polling stations on election day), Absent, pre-Poll, and Postal votes for the major parties, together with the percentages of Ordinary and Postal votes for each:

Seat                              Ordinary           Absent              Pre-Poll            Postal

Goldstein

ALP                              22,845  29%      243                  142                  2712  25%

Liberal                          41,633  53%      326                  222                  6707 61%

 

Macnamara

ALP                              22,834 33%       505                  884                  2737 27%

Liberal                          24,090 35%       650                  1157                 5438 53%

Greens                         17,665  26%      545                  700                  1312 13%

 

Wentworth

ALP                              7993     11%      142                  60                    592  8%

Liberal                          34,552  47%      237                  159                  4737 61%

Independent                 24,307  33%      191                  103                  2001 26%

 

It will be seen that the percentage of Postal votes cast in all of the seats for the Liberal candidate was far higher than among Ordinary votes, cast on election day at the polls.  Many, perhaps most, of these Postal votes were cast by Jews, who declined to vote in person on a Saturday.  Again, it seems to be a reasonable inference that most Jews in these seats voted for the Liberals.

At the present time, the two-party preferred vote is 51.75% for the Coalition and 48.25% for the ALP (5-10 per cent of the total vote still remains to be counted). This is the precise opposite of what the polls all predicted, and it is likely that the remaining, uncounted votes from outlying areas, will raise the Coalition’s majority still further.  Why all the polls were so wrong remains unclear, but it should be noted that they all went wrong in the very same direction  ̶ all of them predicted an ALP win, none a Coalition win. The view I expressed in my last posting, that pro-Coalition preferences were underestimated, remains my view now.

Another matter of interest is the fact that Anthony Albanese has now become Leader of the ALP. He certainly seems to be a flexible and engaging moderate (although he belongs to the Left faction in his party), and anything but an extremist. But some of his comments on Israel give cause for concern. In July 2014 he strongly criticised Israel’s air strike on Gaza, saying that “What we saw this week [was] the bombing of a school where people essentially had gone to seek refuge. That is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for Hamas to fire rockets into Israel, but the collective punishment is against all the rules of engagement and Israel must stop these actions. At the moment we are seeing a child killed every hour in Gaza.”  In May 2018 he stated that if the ALP had been in power, it would have split from the US and backed a UN investigation into the killings of dozens of Palestinians in Gaza. At the time, he had no responsibility in the Shadow Cabinet for foreign policy.

A widely reprinted photograph showed Albanese meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party in Britain, probably the most dangerous and extreme leftwing politician in the English-speaking world, who has often been accused by the British Jewish community of (at the very least) acquiescing in anti-semitism, and of being deeply hostile to Israel.  Mr. Albanese represents a seat in western Sydney with many Muslims, and, as Leader of the federal ALP, will almost certainly move to the middle of the political spectrum, especially after the party’s upset loss, but his statements on the Middle East should certainly be closely watched.

A final political occurrence worth noting is the very strong performance by the Brexit Party, headed by Nigel Farage, in Britain’s vote in the European elections last Friday.  It won about 32 per cent of the vote (= 37 per cent in England outside of London),  more than the Tories or Labour. The party, founded specifically to get the UK out of the European Union, was established only seven weeks before the election. There is almost certainly no precedent in any democratic election in modern history for a party to go from non-existent to securing more votes than anyone else in so short a time.  In Australia, for instance, Robert Menzies founded the Liberal Party in 1944, but it took five years to win government.

In 1975 there was a referendum in the UK on staying in the European Economic Community (EEC, as what became the EU was known then), which won with 66 per cent of the vote. Since 1975, the EU (to use the current title) has morphed from a customs union with free trade among its members to a super-state, intruding into every aspect of life and governed by a remote bureaucracy in Brussels which is invariably liberal on issues like mass immigration from the Third World.  The UK has only 12 per cent of the total  EU vote, and the average British citizen is powerless to influence it.  An opposition, nationalistic but democratic, has emerged in Britain and elsewhere to exit from the EU. This opposition is not dissimilar to that which supports the BJP in India, Trump in America, and Netanyahu in Israel (and perhaps the Coalition here) and will only grow in future.

Professor Bill Rubinstein taught at Deakin University and at the University of Wales.

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