Australian Conservatives were told by Liberal Party pollster Mark Textor they had nowhere else to go when they expressed their dismay at the overthrow of PM Tony Abbott. This was despite Conservatives being incensed that a duly elected Prime Minister was taken down during their first term in a startling repeat of Labor’s arrogant hubris.
Whatever the flaws of the Abbott government, I remarked at the time of the coup that the transaction cost of such a move would be felt for a long time to come. That warning fell on deaf ears in the media and the Party as the opinion polls jumped in our favour.
However, a political campaign clicks everyone into gear and causes the voters to carefully weigh up their options. The result was a win for the Coalition, but a poor performance by the Liberals.
The National Party gained one seat whilst the Libs look to be losing thirteen. Over one million votes were cast for conservative alternatives One Nation, Christian Democrats, Australian Liberty Alliance, Family First and assorted others. According to Mark Textor, these people don’t matter. I disagree.
A strong Australia requires a strong and principled centre right Conservative party. For over 70 years that Party has been the Liberal Party, founded by Sir Robert Menzies in 1945.
By historical and contemporary standards Menzies was undoubtably a Conservative. His memoirs are even recording him as voting outside his own political creation due to the lack of conservative principles of the Victorian ’wets’.
The success of the Howard era was characterised by the electoral support of the ’Howard battlers’ – a group of working class conservatives – despite the disapproval of his agenda by the bedwetters within the Party and the external elites.
Rudd claimed those working class conservatives as his own pretending to be one of them whilst Tony Abbott won them back when they realised the deception of the Rudd/Gillard governments.
Despite Mark Textor’s insistence, Conservatives do matter and they felt betrayed once more by the conduct of the Liberal Party over the past nine months. In their eyes, the Party of principle had become the party of political opportunism. Their response has been swift and defining.
More Conservatives are now seeking political solace in the hearth outside of the house that Menzies built. Over 1.2 million cast their votes in favour of conservative alternatives rather than the Turnbull Liberal Team.
As someone who believes a strong, conservative Liberal party is good for Australia, the challenge is to win those voters back.
The rise of minor parties is not unique to Australia. Europe has battled with disgruntled voters for many years and America has seen the Trump phenomenon crystallise the lack of faith in the political establishment. In Australia, we need to reclaim the faith of the Conservative base.
Conservatism isn’t a specific doctrine and thus individuals are always more likely to be loyal to an idea or philosophy rather than a political brand. That’s why bringing Conservatives together is best done through an organisation outside of the body politic.
The elements that unite Conservatives may be as disparate as the parties they vote for but its time for a united conservative voice. Hence the birth of Australian Conservatives – an alternative to the George Soros funded left activist group Getup!
Australian Conservatives is about bringing together every Australian that identifies as conservative. Whether they see economic, social, cultural or constitutional conservatism as the basis for their belief, we need to bring like minded people together.
That means compiling a knowledge base of those who identify as Conservative and the reasons for their support. This will allow each of us to support others who share our views through public and political advocacy. It will also provide for focussed and strategic campaigns against those who seek to undermine conservative interests and thus the national interest.
Providing a method for self-identifying Conservatives to record their priorities will ultimately allow individuals to provide targeted activist and financial support where they will have maximum effect.
Australian Conservatives is an idea whose time has come.
After the cavalier dismissal of Conservatives by the right of centre political elite, we need to reclaim the voice of the silent majority. That process will require a professional and well supported organisation untroubled by party politics.
A number of quality conservative candidates came under siege by left political activists and union funding at this past election. Good Conservative MPs like Andrew Nicolic lost their seats whilst others held theirs despite the well-funded army against them. The Liberal base had nothing to counter the activist brigades.
They lacked communication, co-ordination and the authority to encourage others into action. The price of such flat footedness is incalculable. Good people and great representatives have lost their seats at the hands of incompetence and intransigence whilst the elite bask in their narrow victory.
It can never be allowed to happen again. That’s why Australian Conservatives must band together. We need to unite our funds, our ideas and our political clout to effect meaningful change and to support like minded candidates. If we don’t, we will only further diminish the ability to have our voice heard.
Right now, over four million Australians expressed their first preference faith in the Liberal Party. More than a million Conservatives chose to vote differently. If the Government are serious about remaining a sustainable right-of-centre force in Australian politics, they’ll recognise and respond to the growing concerns of their Conservative base who will always hold them to account.
The Australian Conservatives seeks to do exactly that. Please join us at http://www.conservatives.org.au/