someone asked me yesterday.
It was the Senior Cat's birthday yesterday and he had a number of phone calls, cards, and presents. People called in. We escaped it all late in the day and went to Middle Cat's place for the evening meal.
But, before that happened one of the Senior Cat's younger friends asked me, "Is the country leaning right?"
He had just asked me whether I had heard the White House spokesman call the Downunder Prime Minister "Trumbull" rather than "Turnbull".
I had heard that. It didn't surprise me. It was "President" too rather than "Prime Minister".
Downunder likes to think it is rather more important in the scheme of things than it actually is. The size of the land mass seems to be something to do with it. Is it the "smallest continent" or the "largest island"? It makes no difference really.
Is it "leaning right"? Or is it "leaning left"? The questioner meant politically of course. He had raised the prospect of a rather conservative politician leaving the ruling party and setting up his own party.
Downunder already has a rather radical party on the right. It's called "One Nation". More people are voting for it than once did. That does not surprise me. It could do rather better than many other politicians are hoping for in the next Queensland state election. It may get more votes in the next election. People will also votes for it ahead of many "fringe" parties because they see it as more mainstream.
But there are groups on the other side too. The Greens may yet split into something more radically left than they are at present.
I don't think the country is leaning right or left. I think the two major parties are ill-defined. It is difficult to see the differences between them in some of the major policy areas. People who have voted one way or the other and who don't have a great deal of interest in politics will go on voting the way they have always voted. Because Downunder has a system of "compulsory voting" which actually means "compulsory attendance at the ballot box" the major parties know they don't have to work too hard to convince the majority of their supporters to vote that way again. They just need to concentrate on the "swinging" voters - people who might change their minds.
I am wondering whether that might be starting to change. If it is then it could be dangerous. People could start to look for "alternatives" and some of those alternatives are going to be more radical.
A little bit of tension on both sides might be a good thing but if it becomes too great then yes, the country could learn right - or left.