South Australia. The nation’s North Korea. A one-party state.

South Australia is becoming the nation’s own little North Korea.  A one-party state. Sure, we go through the process of having elections. But like North Korea, the result is never really in doubt. There was a shock last year in the North Korean poll when some official candidates received less than 100 per cent of the vote.

In South Australia, the shock that Labor looks likely to win the seat of Dunstan is a bit less. Most everyone thought it was a 50-50 call before Saturday, but in reality we were giving the Libs a bit too much credit.

That a government hadn’t taken a seat from an opposition party in 116 years was never likely to be an impediment. That is the sort of history the modern day Liberal Party in South Australia is built to overcome.

In South Australia, politics is a clash between amateurs and professionals. It’s the Keystone Cops taking on the mafia. It’s the desperate-to-rule against the born-to-rule.

The numbers tell their own tale.

Dunstan is likely to be Labor’s 28th   seat in a 47-person House of Assembly. The Libs will have 14 and independents five.  It also means that since the last state election, when the Libs ran the worst campaign seen in modern political history, they have lost another two seats. Nick McBride has become another Lib-turned-independent and now Dunstan as well.

More numbers. Since 2002 when Mike Rann became Premier, the Liberals have won one election. But even when they won one in 2018, they lasted a meagre one term.

There is no prospect the Liberals will win in 2026 on current trends. Indeed, it could get even worse from here.

Even at a federal level, the Libs are sliding further into irrelevancy. Labor holds six seats, the Libs three and there is one independent. At the next federal election, based on the Dunstan results, Labor would be hopeful of picking up the Liberal-held seat of Sturt as well.

The party is a shambles. From the outside, it is defined by infighting and incompetence. They seem more focused on internal power battles than on the main game of developing policies and winning elections.

Its problems go way beyond whether David Speirs is a good leader or not. They could change Speirs and it would make very little difference, unless they sort out the basics.

Within the Labor Party, there is also enmity, hatred and contempt. But they are smart enough to keep a lid on it. The decision in the week before the Dunstan by-election to install Alex Antic as the party’s number one pick on the Senate ticket was comical. Antic, a backbencher, was preferred to former Cabinet member Anne Ruston.

Antic is a curious case. He wants to drive the party further to the right in search of the mythical “Liberal base’’. Maybe he’ll find it out there in the wild, on the fringes. But he’ll also lose the vast majority of regular Australians. You know, the ones that tend to decide elections.

I don’t want to get all sentimental and talk about how good governments need good oppositions. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But surely some kind of basic competence is required.

We have seen this before in Labor, but it has an unpleasant tendency towards arrogance when left to its own devices. It has a glass jaw if criticized. It has an unhealthy confidence in its own abilities. It comes up with ridiculous excuses when caught out, like it’s ‘check the small print’ defence on ramping.

After two years, there are still many questions to be answered. Is hydrogen an expensive folly? Will the uni merger work? How much can it really spend on promoting itself with taxpayer-funded advertising before the North Korean comparisons become even more applicable?

Anyway, reading update.

Finished Alasdair Gray’s Lanark. Yes, took me ages, but the longer it went on, the more I loved it. Funny, weird, beautiful. A remarkable book, like nothing I had read before. Also watched Poor Things since then, which is based on another Gray book. He certainly had a take on the world, did Alasdair.

Now reading something I will review for The Advertiser. Crime novelist Val McDermid has done a take on the Macbeth story, where she is attempting to change perceptions of Lady Macbeth.