The Murdoch empire has been notably soft on the performance of former Prime Minister John Howard in taking the Liberal Party down with him at the 2007 election. Howard, you may recall, gave as his most compelling reasons for not implementing an orderly succession plan a) not wanting to look like he wasn’t a fighter, and b) his wife and children told him they wanted him to stay as PM.

But the grande dame of the empire, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, who turns 100 next month, is wise and worldly enough to go where the empire’s editors fear to tread. She regards the former Prime Minister as a destroyer of the Liberal Party — and she said so again in a big interview in The Weekend Australian Magazine on Saturday.

“I could never quite forgive Howard for insisting on going on and destroying the party and himself”, she said as bluntly as any editorial would put it in one of her son’s newspapers. You don’t need to be 99 to know that she’s absolutely right and that Howard has never been held fully accountable for his behaviour, for heedlessly going on and destroying the party and himself.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey