Federal Liberal Party president Chris McDiven is under threat, stories that appear to be coming out of NSW say today.

Appear to be coming out of NSW as they reflect NSW Liberal tensions. The Taliban have the numbers in that state, but moderates (notional and otherwise) have the powerful positions: federal president McDiven, federal leader Dr Brendan, state leader Barry O’Farrell and state party president Geoff Selig.

John Howard turned a blind eye to the rising power of the religious right. He could. He was in office.

Now that the Liberals need to make themselves electable, they face significant challenges. Taking the power of the Taliban is just one of these. That may rule anyone from NSW out of the job.

The party needs a major constitutional overhaul. The federal executive needs the power to intervene in state divisions and a power of veto over the preselection of Michael Towkes (and Alex Hawkes, for that matter).

Michael Kroger pushed through significant reform in the Victorian division in the eighties. Some say he could tackle the job.

In contrast, Alexander Downer appears not to have the stomach for the fight.

In the immediate aftermath of the election loss, he indicated an interest in the federal presidency.

Since then, he appears to have read his party’s federal constitution. It specifically precludes a parliamentarian from serving in the president’s role.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey