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The loneliness of a long-term Opposition Leader

I suppose one could argue the point of the matter, but I find it difficult to see any reason to call the opposition leader the leader of the Liberal Party. Indeed, it fascinates me why journalists refer to this conservative party as liberal. On the contrary, a Liberal Party no longer exists in Australia.

One of the tenets of liberalism expressed on the so-called party’s internet page notes the following:

“In equal opportunity for all Australians; and the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice.”

This is a condescending way of saying that if enough people become rich, the poor who make them so will be looked after by the leftovers of their wealth.

I would dispute that every claim on the page is owned by liberalism. On the contrary, claims of ideological ownership often transcend parties simply because logic would dictate it so.

The LNP accepts Medicare, the NDIS and other social welfare policies based on necessity, not ideology. Conservatives would have none of it if they stuck to their philosophy. In other words, they are flexible when it suits them.

In his essay “Has Menzies’ Liberal Party Run its Course?” Greg Melleuish says that:

“Malcolm Fraser was the last Liberal prime minister in the style of Menzies. He is sometimes derided for not taking advantage of his control of the Senate between 1975 and 1980 to push through an economically liberal agenda. That only makes sense if one assumes that the Liberal Party was addicted to an abstract theory of Liberalism…

Howard’s genius was to redefine the Liberal Party as a ‘broad church’ and to argue that it had always been the ‘principal custodian of mainstream conservative values in Australia’, even if this had not been the case.”

Midway through his essay he quotes John Howard:

“There is nothing, either in the statements of Menzies when the party was formed, or in his subsequent conduct as leader, to suggest that he did not see the Liberal Party as inter alia the principal custodian of mainstream conservative values in Australia.”

While concluding with the question:

“Has the Liberal Party of Menzies indeed run its course?”

If one is conversant with the actions, deeds and leadership since and during Howard’s time, one could only conclude that the decline of liberalism started with Howard and ended with Morrison. During that period, the party became infiltrated with right-wing nutters who espoused a conservative worldview similar to Donald Trump.

So my point is that in the past, the Liberal Party accommodated both liberal and conservative values, and now in its makeup, it is entirely a conservative party.

Howard’s characterisation of the Liberal Party as a broad church had two dimensions. The first was the metaphor of the general Christian church, and the second was to take conservatism and its more extreme right-wing views under its wing.

The party’s current leader Peter Dutton insists that he isn’t of a conservative disposition, but his political record would suggest otherwise.

In the aftermath of their election loss he was off the blocks asserting his place as the next Liberal leader. He claimed Labor would be a “bad government“.

Dutton acknowledged that his reputation as a former copper and hardman came about because of his roles in home affairs and defence minister.

Did he forget immigration? Then he said he wanted to show Australians “the rest of my character, the side my family, friends and colleagues see.”

To say that you have to portray a specific personality for these portfolios is tantamount to admitting you’re a bastard. But then, he didn’t earn his dastardly reputation by being honest and trustworthy.

His wife Kirilly told us of his softer side; he was an “amazing ­father” with “a great sense of humour … an incredible compassion.” I note that before the 2019 election, she claimed that he wasn’t the monster people claimed him to be.

When he won the leadership of the Liberal Party after the May election he reassured his loyal base that:

“We aren’t the Moderate Party. We aren’t the Conservative Party. We are Liberals. We are the Liberal Party. We believe in families – whatever their composition …

Small and micro businesses. For aspirational, hard-working ‘forgotten people’ across cities, suburbs, regions and in the bush.

Things are going to be tough under Labor: higher interest rates, cost of living, inflation and electricity prices. Labor talked a big game on the economy. They now have to deliver, and we will hold them to account.”

Later he told Radio 2GB he believed the Coalition could win the next election.

“There’s a lot of work between now and then, and the Liberal party has to get back to being the Liberal party and being the broad church and making sure that we represent all Australians.”

Liberal moderates, including Simon Birmingham, Dave Sharma and Matt Kean had already been quoted saying that the party had gone too far to the right.

In response, Dutton said he wasn’t going to be radically shifting the Coalition but wasn’t “some extreme right-wing person… We’re a centre-right party.”

Did I hear a voice in the wilderness say; “Sit down, boofhead.”?

Can this party that was so institutionally and politically weakened by Labor, the Greens, the teals and independents structurally reform itself to become something other than what they have been in the past?

Labor now takes the space small “L” Liberals occupied for so many years, and if they decide to continue down the path of conservatism, they have no choice but to be more radical and extreme.

Former federal finance minister Nick Minchin was recently booed at a conference of self-styled conservatives for not being right-wing enough. He made the mistake of telling his audience that the Liberal Party didn’t need much change.

The booing went on for some time, I am told.

The event was CPAC, a globalised conference that caters for the brain dead. One of those occasions you would most definitely ignore if you could. When asked about CPAC’s view that the Liberals had lost their way, Dutton noted there were:

“… a lot of people who offer free advice at the moment” – people who had never formed government and never sat in the big boy’s chairs. People might have “all sorts of theories” about how to regroup after a flogging, but he intended to approach the leadership of his Party as a descendant of Robert Menzies and John Howard. The Liberals would win by articulating core values and “calling out Labor’s hypocrisy.”

If Dutton seriously believes that the Liberals would win by articulating their core values whilst carrying the luggage of his past, he isn’t a leader’s bootlace.

Articulating the difference between your and the other party’s ideology is obligatory if you want to win.

If you cannot do that, you will become just another lonely long-term Opposition Leader.

My thought for the day

A conservative outcry:

Poverty is the victim’s fault, but wealth comes from virtue, and both are the natural order of things.

 

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20 comments

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  1. L.S. Roberts

    Both major parties are oxymoronic. The Labor Party does little for the labouring classes and The Liberals certainly aren’t but The Greens certainly are, behind the ears! Call it Naivety.
    I will give Albo a chance; slowly, slowly, catchy monkey. Let’s not get too excited before the next budget.

  2. Steve Davis

    Liberalism is the political wing of the economics of individualism.

    It is therefore a mistake to assume, as many do, that liberalism has anything to do with generosity or compassion.

    The label comes from the latin root pertaining to liberty, i.e., in this case, the liberty to do as one wishes.

    To call their selfish anti-social ideology “liberalism” was the greatest propaganda coup in history, as commentators from the left still fall for the con.

  3. New England Cocky

    Once again John Lord, I find myself challenged by your assertions that there is anything of value in the Liarbral Nazional$ COALition of self-serving, generally incompetent, egomaniacs ripping off the common wealth for the benefit of themselves and their corporate mates. Your tacit support of the so-called ”moderates” is ill-founded because none of them should be picked up, even with sterile forceps.

    ”The LNP accepts Medicare, the NDIS and other social welfare policies based on necessity, not ideology. Conservatives would have none of it if they stuck to their philosophy. In other words, they are flexible when it suits them.”

    The COALition:
    .
    1) pays lip service to social measures like Medicare (tried to close it down once already);
    .
    2) the NDIS (slowed processing applications to sleeping snail pace for nine (9) years to reduce expenditure and increase personal suffering);
    .
    3) vigorously oppose any wage rises on the grounds that the bosses would lose profits created by the workers;
    .
    4) promoted Stage 3 tax cuts for the undeserving wealthy (including all pollies), and
    .
    5) continues to support the fossil fuel industry with tax concessions, rebates and the like while granting new licenses to pollute the planet against the best interests of Australian voters ….. and the list goes on …..
    .
    I agree with L S Roberts above; I am hopeful that the Albanese LABOR government will serve the best interests of all Australian voters. However, I am yet to be convinced that there has been any real change in COALition misgovernment policies. We live in hope.

  4. Terence Mills

    After losing his tilt at the Liberal leadership, that overturned the Turnbull government and set in motion the disastrous events that followed under Morrison, Dutton said :

    [Malcolm]Turnbull had brought about his own downfall because he “doesn’t have a political bone in his body”.

    “Malcolm had a plan to become prime minister but no plan to be prime minister,” Mr Dutton told Brisbane’s The Sunday Mail.

    Dutton could have been talking about himself !

  5. Canguro

    The leader of the Federal Opposition showing that finely-tuned political antenna that he’s so renowned for possessing…

  6. Phil Pryor

    Dutton, more coated in excrement than the original Nauru, is intellectually arid, saharan of heart, with halitisis of the “personality” (hah), emptiness of the empathy parts, leached of loving attitude to others who have water lapping near homes, a huge BLOT.

  7. wam

    Hell’s bells, lord, what a giggle today.
    Articulating the difference between your and the other party’s ideology is obligatory if you want to win.
    That is the only way the lnp has won in living memory.
    labor spends and wastes money and we manage the economy. Labor then demonstrates how they will waste money on the poor, disadvantaged and suchlike unworthies.
    teal is blue green is anti labor QED dutton could win

  8. Harry Lime

    The toxic poison that so insidiously pervades our politics, persists thanks to the egregious liar,Little Winston,and spread with alacrity by the clown Abbott, and the Liar Morrison, three of the worst,most incompetent and dishonest frauds ever to assail our polity.The fucking deluded dickhead that is (temporarily) the ‘leader’ of the Oppostion is responsible for a large part of their recent flogging,despite being returned in Dickson.He would struggle to garner a vote anywhere else in the country.It’s obvious that the so called Liberal Party only exists in the minds of those who have failed to read the death notices,and Dutton is really only the current bullet-headed version of Clownshoes,naysaying and braying like the jackass that he is.He should fuck off to America,join the GOP, and be a first hand witness to the destruction caused by like minded tossers.

  9. Stephengb

    Good article JL

    All you have to do to see how far away from Menzies Liberal party is to look at their constitution. It is actually more Left than Hawke and Keatings ALP. The current ALP could actually benefit from a few of their stated objectives.

    Look it up, the objectives make interesting reading.

    Meanwhile the encyclopaedia Britanica describes Conservativism as follows and not at all like the LNP of the last ten years.

    “conservatism, political doctrine that emphasizes the value of traditional institutions and practices”

    Which is certainly not the Liberal party nor the National party

  10. Kathryn

    Stephengb, I believe you are somewhat confused between left-wing (Democratic Socialism) and right-wing extremism (conservative, misogynistic and racist white supremacist fanatics). The FACT is that the worst, most depraved and inhumane governments in history were (and still are) RIGHT-WING extremists! Perfect examples of deplorable right-wing extremism are the smug elitists in the Tory regime in the UK and the corrupt, xenophobic capitalists and megalomaniacal narcissists in the Republican movement in the USA!

    The truth is that the highest achieving, egalitarian and compassionate nations on earth – like Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland – are ALL left-wing democratic socialist regimes! The NAZIS were NOT left-wing – they were far-right-wing extremist fascists. Furthermore, democratic socialism can NEVER EVER be compared to Communism – they are completely opposing ideologies and as different as chalk and cheese!

    Let’s hope and pray that the above-pictured corrupt, cold-blooded bald-headed badger – a disreputable and callously inhumane right-wing extremist – stays in OPPOSITION for decades to come!

    Any person evil enough to torture the innocent Tamil family from Biloela – including their two little daughters – by attempting to lock them up INDEFINITELY in an LNP-mismanaged off-shore concentration camp on Christmas Island, PROVES that Dutton ticks EVERY box as an unconscionably depraved political psychopath! The Tamils have long been persecuted in Sri Lanka and Priya Nadaraja, Nades Murugappan and their daughters Kopika, 7, and Tharnicaa, 4, the asylum seekers who were popular residents in the little outback Queensland town of Biloela, were turned into Morrison and Dutton’s “scapegoats” in relation to the LNP’s appalling and ILLEGAL “stop the boats” asylum seeker policy. Fortunately for the sake of humanity, the LNP succumbed to enormous pressure and justifiable public outrage and were eventually forced to relent and bring the Tamil family back to settle in Perth! However, Dutton fought against that move every step of the way because underneath his cruel, inhumane, xenophobic and racist “facade” lies a cruel, inhumane, xenophobic racist!

    The ONLY positive thing about the callously inhumane, xenophobic sociopath, Dutton, leading the most corrupt regime in our history is that he is so universally despised and unpopular, it is now HIGHLY UNLIKELY that the LNP will manage to crawl over the electoral line.

    https://www.hometobilo.com/facts

  11. Andrew James Smith

    The Liberal’s from the time Howard have promoted imported ‘liberalism’ or ‘radical right libertarian’ forms of economics, masking eugenics and the class order.

  12. Carol Taylor

    Howard made a decision to never promote anyone of any substance nor ability in order to shore up his own position. What was leftover after his departure was only ever Howard’s B Team. Which tells you a lot about ‘why’ the LNP has deteriorated to their currently existing low.

  13. wam

    lord
    long term federal opposition leaders of 5+ years
    Charlton,
    Curtin
    menzies UAP/LP
    Evatt
    Caldwell
    Whitlam
    Hayden
    Beazley
    Shorten
    All ALP, lord,
    To give a balance, at a pinch, I would offer you the duopoly of the lying rodent/colt from kooyong and Hewson as close contenders to the labor mob(NB Albo 4 years).
    ps
    kathryn says it all, lord, let us prey.
    The christian extremists, like the Struhs, are not only killing their own children but are close to ruining our society and the white world.
    I am weird but a natural abortion can only be blamed on god or the woman and it is not hard to guess the choice of christians?

  14. Terence Mills

    Carol

    Morrison followed the Howard tradition. Most of Morrison’s ministry were in witness protection and hidden from the media during his term and probably rightly so, they were completely inept.

    It has been refreshing to see how willing the new Labor ministry are prepared to front the media and be personally responsible for their portfolios.

  15. Gav

    Keith, you are right about smell: “Gag orders have been issued to prevent forecasters from speaking to journalists unless their comments are pre-approved” and “no meteorologists in management”. The BoM rebranding to ‘The Bureau’ sounds very George Orwell 1984. Would it have been better to rebrand BoM with something like this – ‘Bureau of Truth and Pre-Approved Comments, Meterology’? As far as causing angst in the workplace, that is the gestalt of the 2020s. I hope employees are keeping records.
    I read recently that long term BoM data is being ‘adjusted’ to fit with the official climate change narrative – but good luck trying to find that info these days as searches on the web are so sanitized it’s a joke. I had a quick look at BoM satview (Himawari) site just now (3.50am – 7.50am) and notice a large triangular cloud formation east of Fraser Island going nowhere (Low system) feeding into a square-center (cyclone?) east of Maroochydore, with a bigger triangular brother-cloud formation halfway between Gladstone and the Solomon Is. Square centers, triangles and straight edges all over the chart. Climate Change, really?

  16. GL

    “An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.”
    Simon Cameron.

  17. leefe

    Gav:

    “I read recently that long term BoM data is being ‘adjusted’ to fit with the official climate change narrative … ”

    Yes, I also occasionally visit conspiracy theorist sites for a laugh. It’s amazing how much illogical and inconsistent trash people are capable of believing.

  18. Keith

    Gav/Leefe Yes BoM data has been modified to maintain its accuracy, Gav. Data officially began to be taken in 1910, since that time many changes have happened near weather stations such as trees being planted, bitumen placed on roads, buildings built. The data would be inaccurate if such changes were not taken into account. Watts in the USA made such a complaint, he had a fairly large following of denialists (conspiriacy theorists) so the weather stations he had nominated were assessed by a skeptic of global warming, Professor Richard Muller. Professor Muller found the stations to be accurate! Berkeley Earth was subsequently created through Professor Muller, the global temperature graphs created by Berkeley Earth fit in well with those created by other Agencies from the USA, Japan and Britain.. Blog sites and Youtube are often not good places to get information from.

  19. Gav

    leefe and Keith, you are right about the quality of info on the web.
    I like to go to source and look at what is what.
    Right now SatView-bom-gov-au is showing 3 large cloud formations about 1000km direct east of Brisbane. Each cloud starts off as a smallish dot 20-30km diameter and within an hour each is about 100km+ across. These 3 clouds cast a shadow onto more diffuse cloud below. The first appears @ 08:50am, shadows can be seen about an hour later. As the 3 clouds also seem to be diffusing, they will likely join the lower level of cloud cover moving SW? The 3 clouds are moving in a SE at the moment.
    I’ll check in a few hours time to see if those 3 clouds combine and start streaming SW to help wet NSW even more.
    It was Qld Premier Anna P– who recently described heavy rain events in terms of ‘rain bombs’. Good to hear a politician give an accurate description now and again. I would like to know the mechanics of these ‘rain bombs’.
    Curious as to how a ‘rain bomb’ changes direction mid-ocean, or mid-land for that matter, try – www windy com. On the right hand side of the screen is a button ‘Surface’ indicator, this can be dragged to max height of 13.5km to match the ‘rain bombs’ height.
    An explanation from a meteorologist is welcome.

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