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Nov 30, 2009

Sensible and silly … time for a Liberal split

Moderate Libs should jump ship or be ready to turn into a genuine liberal party -- the only chance that moderate liberals would have to fight such a battle from a position of incumbency.

If there isn’t a bunch of metropolitan Libs with a blueprint for a split in a desk drawer somewhere, they aren’t doing their job.

Given the last week’s performance, that probably means there isn’t.

But there should be of course. There’s up to 20 sitting Liberal MHRs who would have nothing to lose from a sudden split should Krudd bring down a double dissolution.

Should a Hockey-Dutton ticket be established on a deal with the Right to reject the ETS, the power of the irrationalist Right to dictate policy and leadership to the party will be laid bare for all to see.

At that point, urban Lib MHRs are effectively being asked to commit to the political equivalent of the Somme, Day 1 – marching towards the enemy guns led by an amiable fool and a man about to lose his seat (having, unbelievably switched back to it after trying for a bolthole), for a cause they don’t believe in, to defend a faction that many of them quietly loathe.

Rural Libs will survive to continue their diminished careers as the bench warmers of a long-term opposition. Meanwhile the Liberal Leninists – Minchin, Abbott et al – will have at least one scenario they wanted, come to realisation, that of a party they control, more moderates driven out, lurking in Opposition for 12, 15, 20 years if necessary until the Ellis-Soutphommasane Labor government is so tired and bedraggled that the voters are willing to make Alex Hawke prime minister.

Yes, it’s not their plan A. Their plan A is the delusional idea that the Australian public will emerge from hypnosis and vote for the true Australian knights of Christianity etc. If not, they will.

Minchin said, in response to Turnbull’s Dr Strangelove act on the weekend, that he had been in the Liberal Party too long to want to destroy it.

Maybe, but he’s also a stalwart Right-wing warrior, the Bill Hartley of his team. For the Liberals to win in their current constellation, or even for it to become the standard set-up, would be to cement in a politics that excludes the world-vision ably expressed by Minchin’s remark that climate change politics was “communism by other means”.

So the moderate Libs should jump or be ready to turn into a genuine liberal party – the only chance that moderate liberals would have to fight such a battle from a position of incumbency.

The great strength of such a party would be that they would get preference flows from both the other major parties – the existing Libs, who might well merge with the Nationals – and they would be in a position to negotiate with the Greens, who would then have someone they could first preference to ahead of Labor.

Quite aside from holding a fair brace of their own seats, they would be real competition for the ALP in a number of metro seats – especially if, freed of their country cousins, they could offer a more genuinely liberal social policy. That would scoop a bunch of prosperous social liberal voters who continue to vote ALP despite the party’s increasingly socially conservative rhetoric and appetite for state censorship and repression.

Will they do it? Do they dare disturb the universe? History to the defeated may say alas but cannot help nor pardon, and there will always be children who do not particularly want it to happen, and they fuck you up your mum and dad they don’t mean to but they do, they … (that’s enough poetry – ed).

They probably won’t.

And what would you call such a party? Moderate Party (a la Sweden)? Sensible Party (a la Python)? The Real IRA (may lead to misunderstanding)? Touching Cloth? Answers on a postcard please.

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20 comments

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20 thoughts on “Sensible and silly … time for a Liberal split

  1. robbi64

    Well written, Guy, you are such a Hero with a Pen.

  2. Simon Rumble

    Bligh’s Serious Party.

    There’s gotta be a gag in the fact Turnbull has historical family links with William Bligh. Is Turnbull the red under the bed that Minchin fears?

  3. John Reidy

    they won’t do it, it, as you say now is the time to jump, while they have their seats, but they won’t do it..

    Re a name:
    I’m thinking the ‘progressive conservatives’ or the ‘conservative progressives’ it worked well in Canada didn’t it

    (Oh I remember they introduced a GST and then went from majority to a phonebooth.)

  4. caf

    I’m convinced – such a party is definitely worth a red hot go.

    But do they have the minerals?

  5. Liz45

    All this proves to me, that none of them give a damn about anyone or anything but their own selfish pursuits, either personal or extremist views. Pox on all their houses I say! I’ll stick with the Greens 1, and Labor 2! The conservatives go to the bottom of the pile – this only reinforces the fact, that I’ve been correct(not right) for years. Selfish bastards all!

    GST – the first time in this country, that those on the bottom rung of the income ladder were forced to suffer the most! I’ll never support the conservatives – ever! I’ll never forget either! Struggling women on sole parent benefits were pushed near the bottom, without the subsidies Howard gave to the more well off pensioners – those of us without savings got almost zilch!

  6. robbi64

    Bligh’s Revenge?

    Wentworth’s Folly?

    How about the … Whigtory Party?

    (The Judean People’s Front also comes to mind … but we don’t have a Judea in Australia. Am certain of that, almost as certain as I am that climate change is … something that happens on earth from time to time … not necessarily our fault … but something that happens and needs to be planned for if you live in a vulnerable place, irrespective of who’s fault it might be.)

  7. Andersson

    They don’t have the bottle to do it.

  8. The Zebras

    If Turnbull founded the Australian Republican Party I’d give them a red-hot go. But yep.. fat chance.

  9. baal

    Sorry this hissy critque was mistakenly posted as a comment on Mungo McCallum’s piece: Heavens, another overlong and digressive history lesson which would have been much better had its insights been fewer and pithier. C’mon editors, can’t you tap Rundle about the need for incisive brevity?

  10. wyane

    History to the defeated may say alas but cannot help nor pardon, and there will always be children who do not particularly want it to happen, and they fuck you up your mum and dad they don’t mean to but they do, they

    Sounds like Ron Hitler-Barassi. Call it the Bounce Party.