Will Bill Shorten be PM before Christmas?

Our next Prime Minister

Malcolm Turnbull is exiting his political career with all the class and poise you would expect of Kevin Rudd after receiving the wrong cheese and wine from a hapless air force stewardess.

And it could possibly even lead to an earlier than expected change of government.

Back before he was challenged for the leadership (when he thought he was still going to win) Turnbull’s office assured his constituents that if he were defeated he would remain as their member until the next election.

Like so many statements made by Malcolm, that one turned out to be misleading, disappointing and the complete opposite of the truth. In the wake of his defeat in the party room Turnbull has indicated that he will resign from parliament shortly with the expected by-election to be held in early October.

Normally this wouldn’t be a problem. Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth is absurdly wealthy and has voted for the Liberal Party since almost before there was a Liberal Party to vote for.

But ReachTEL polling from this week indicates that this isn’t necessarily the case anymore.

Australia in its short history has had one hell of a lot of very short term Prime Ministers and with a majority in the House of Reps of only one it’s entirely possible that Scomo may be about to join that list.

At the last election the well-heeled wealthy folks of Wentworth gave Turnbull a gigantic 62 per cent slab of the primary vote, but according to the poll released Monday the primary vote without Turnbull may well slip to 39% with a two party preferred vote of 50%.

In other words simply being wealthy doesn’t automatically make you a Liberal voter anymore, over the last four decades or so things have changed.

Once upon a time back during the Cold war your voting intention was usually pretty easy to guess. Rich folks, small business owners, social conservatives and people who understood basic economics voted Liberal while working class folks, recent immigrants, public servants and union members voted ALP.

But after forty odd years of the more wealthy sections of society being educated in extremely left wing universities the situation has changed somewhat. Now being well off is far more likely to indicate that you care deeply about refugees, immigration, climate change, multiculturalism, homosexuality, transsexuality and (occasionally) trees.

You might still preference the Liberals out of a sense of taxation related self-preservation but increasingly your first preference vote is for the Greens.

The Liberal party candidate to replace Turnbull in the seat once held by the equally leftist Liberal leader John Hewson has yet to be chosen. The word around town is that NSW Left faction powerbroker Michael Photios is trying to parachute former Israel ambassador Dave Sharma in over the wishes of local party members. Some local Liberal Party branches are indicating that they prefer gay marriage campaigner Andrew Bragg to some outside interloper.

Regardless of who is chosen the eventual candidate is likely to be well to the left of the mainstream of their party on social issues. They will need to be, since the electorate is full of rich people and rich people are now considerably to the left of the working and middle classes on those same social issues.

If the Liberals did make the mistake of trying to run a conservative in Wentworth they might find themselves out of office before Scott Morrison has even received his monogrammed Prime Ministerial coffee mug.

John Howard was the first Australian leader to seemingly understand this gigantic demographic shift in Australian voting opinion and as a result was able to win four elections, becoming the second longest serving Australian PM.

The next leader from either party who can tailor their message to suit this new reality might be the first since Howard to be able to survive long enough to contest two elections in a row.

So will Bill Shorten be PM by Christmas?
Probably not.

But judging from the complete inability of the leadership of the Liberal party to deal with Australia as it is rather than as they might wish it to be he won’t have to wait much longer than that.

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