The Liberals are totally rooted
12 August 2022
I’ve been a member of the Liberal party for over forty years. In that time, it’s known great highs, and it’s known great lows.
But it has never been as f***ed as it is now.
Let’s run over the current sorry state of affairs, division by division.
Federal: Have lost office after being flown into the ground by Malcolm Turnbull and then Scott Morrison, two Prime Ministers who saw the Liberal Party as a vehicle for personal ambition and took from it far more than they gave.
New South Wales: In office, but not in power. In the process of imploding under incompetence while boasting a new deputy leader who celebrated the federal election loss with luvvies at the Peter FitzSimons-Lisa Wilkinson election night ‘do’. Unreturnable.
Victoria: Campaigning against Daniel Andrews’ lack of integrity while the Liberal leader is dogged by integrity issues. His office is a shambles and the party organisation has become a factional vipers’ pit. No coherent policy platform put before the voters three months out from an election. A rogue MP wreaking havoc on his own side. Unelectable.
Queensland: Annastacia Palaszczuk, a third-rate Labor Premier if ever there was one, could get away with murder against her opposition and still win the next election. Bunch of incompetents. Unelectable.
Western Australia: All but wiped out in 2021 by a Labor Premier whose modus operandi involved heavy-handed isolationist authoritarianism. The Liberals are at least two elections away from viability. Broke. The only place left for their power-players to play politics is the party organisation itself. Unelectable.
South Australia: Lost office in March after trying to outflank Labor from the left. They are poisonously factionalised, facing a Labor premier who could be at home in the traditional Liberal Party, and bereft of talent. Unelectable.
ACT: For two decades, the Liberals have failed to make an impression in a Labor-Greens company town. Unelectable.
Northern Territory: Who leads the CLP? What impression have they made? Unelectable.
After the New South Wales election next March, there will be only one Liberal government in this country, Tasmania’s. It presides over a mendicant state utterly dependent on public sector employment and a highly favourable federal GST carve-up. Accordingly, it governs like a Labor government in all but name.
The Liberal Party, nationally and at state level, is failing both its supporters and the Australian people who need – who deserve – a strong, viable, mainstream, centre-right alternative to a now-rampant Labor-Green-Teal hegemony. It’s a shambles.
Modern Liberals fail to believe in anything. They have allowed factional and personality politics to trump policy. Incompetent state divisions and parliamentary parties destroy their election prospects. Parliamentary benches are filled with time-servers, has-beens, passengers, and leaders unwilling or afraid to preselect or promote genuinely talented MP contributors.
The World According to Rowan Dean and mine rarely overlap, but on one thing we are as one. The Liberal Party has become a belief-free zone. As Dean wrote on federal election night in May:
If you stand for nothing, you lose. That is the message from this campaign.
If you betray your base, you lose.
If you follow the siren calls of focus group researchers, you lose.
Whether you like or loathe the Teals, the point is they fought from a position of conviction. They stood for something, and they won.
It is time for the Liberal Party to rediscover its conservative convictions and stop pandering to the woke, touchy-feely Left.
Until Liberal leaders and party organisations heed that message, the party will remain effete, irrelevant, and effectively moribund.
It is trapped in a web of its own making – totally unfit to fulfil its existential purpose of attaining and retaining governments that deliver policies and administration reflecting values of the great, centre-right, silent majority of the Australian people. There is no incentive for its rank-and-file members and supporters to do the grunt work of stuffing letter boxes, buying raffle tickets, and manning polling booths in the cause of electing people who, all too often, patronise them and despise the values they embody. They will either go left and join the likes of the Teals, or go right and align themselves with more populist, radical alternatives – in short, what we saw in May, but permanently.
That needs to change, and fast. It’s a forlorn hope, but the post-election review being conducted by Liberal frontbencher Jane Hume, and election-winning former federal director, Brian Loughnane, must tell a few home truths and make some sweeping recommendations – that are implemented – about how to sweep clean the stinking Augean stables the Liberal party has become.
For if they don’t, the Liberal party just won’t just be f***ed. It will be dead.
Terry Barnes writes the Spectator Australia’s Morning Double Shot newsletter