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Tony Abbott still can’t see the man in the mirror

But rather than admit that he has been wrong about climate change, he suggested that Warringah was out of step with Australia.

“It’s clear that in what might be described as ‘working seats’, we are doing so much better,” said Abbott. “It’s also clear that in at least some of what might be described as ‘wealthy seats’, we are doing it tough, and the Green Left is doing better.”

Abbott is implying that the Liberals may no longer be the party of the better-off, but that it is growing in appeal as the party of the working class.

He is right that climate change is a higher priority in wealthier seats, and Warringah, enfolding Mosman and Manly, is one of the very wealthiest in the country.

So while he’s conceding that he’s lost his seat, Abbott is claiming to represent most of the rest of Australia.

He may not speak for the monied, post-materialist professional and investor class, he’s saying, but he does speak for the people who work hard for their wages.

“The fact that so many people in seats that might be thought of as doing it tough are now looking to our party for leadership is a great tribute and a great credit.”

He describes this as “something of a realignment of politics going on right around this country.”

Abbott is implying that the Liberals may no longer be the party of the better-off, but that it is growing in appeal as the party of the working class.

In other words, that the Liberals are usurping Labor among its heartland, and that seems especially true in Queensland.

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But while Abbott is partly right, he is willfully overlooking the other great factor in his defeat.

Many traditional Liberal voters in Warringah turned angrily against Abbott over his destabilisation of the Coalition government under Malcolm Turnbull.

They regard him as a traitor to the Liberal party. They still regard the Liberals as their party, but decided that it was no longer Abbott’s party.

They voted to force him out. If not for these angry Liberals, Abbott would probably still be the member for Warringah.

Why didn’t Abbott mention that in his concession speech? Because he has never conceded that he bears any responsibility for his relentless assaults on Turnbull.

He is too lost in his self-righteous anger.

So while Steggall claimed her victory was a win for “moderates with a heart”, she depended also on conservatives with a grudge. Against Abbott.

Peter Hartcher is Political Editor and International Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.

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