Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon says Labor’s Bill Shorten “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory” because he pandered to inner-city elites at the expense of ordinary Australian families.
Mr Bannon, who was the architect of Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential triumph, said Scott Morrison won because, like Mr Trump, he spoke honestly to the “little guys” who saw through Labor’s “utopian” policies on climate change, its class-warfare tactics and use of identity politics.
“It’s the little guy who is the backbone of civic society but who is not outspoken … they don’t demonstrate but they pay attention,” Mr Bannon told The Australian in an exclusive interview from Paris. “That’s what the elites have forgotten — they think these people are stupid.
“They are not stupid, they are very savvy about how they get on in the world.”
He said there were similarities between the Prime Minister’s victory and that of Mr Trump because, like Hillary Clinton’s Democrats in 2016, Labor was “in the bubble” rather than on the side of ordinary workers.
“They (Labor) came out and gave this big sweeping utopian vision of climate change and they were hailed by the media and by the urban elites, but it’s the little guy that knows it’s all going to roll downhill,” he said.
“Once again, the left oversold climate change (policies) and the practicality of it.”
Mr Bannon said there were clear parallels between Mr Trump’s “forgotten people” and Mr Morrison’s “quiet Australians”.
“Many of the people who voted for Trump were reluctant to tell (pollsters) because there were a lot of working-class Democrats and I think it was the same thing (in Australia),” he said, adding these silent voters were wary of “big sweeping utopian visions”.
“I don’t think this was an enthusiastic vote or mandate to the Coalition but it was certainly a feeling of ‘at least I know what I’ve got here, I may not love it but there is too much uncertainty (with Labor)’. This was stunning. (Labor) basically snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”
Mr Trump won the presidency in part by winning over Democrat voters who thought their party had drifted from its working-class roots.
Mr Bannon said he believed many Australians were uncomfortable with Mr Shorten’s assessment that China was not a strategic threat. “He was clearly going to go into a more open relationship with (China’s President) Xi Jinping, which I thought would be disastrous for the alliance, particularly with the South China Sea,” he said. Mr Bannon is widely seen as the most important architect of Mr Trump’s victory, driving the populist “America First” vision that has dominated the President’s policies in international relations, economic policy and trade.
He was one of the President’s closest advisers but was fired in August 2017 after the two drifted apart and when Mr Bannon publicly disagreed with the President on North Korea and other issues .
Mr Bannon said this week that a victory for the right in Europe “will energise our base for 2020”. Although he is no longer working for Mr Trump, Mr Bannon will play a key role in mobilising American conservatives ahead of next year’s presidential election.
Since leaving the White House, Mr Bannon has encouraged nationalist, anti-establishment sentiment in the US and globally, and is in Europe ahead of European parliament elections.
By Cameron Stewart