So Cory Bernardi has finally done it. Today he leaves the Liberal party for his own vanity project, taking the six-year Senate term his late party gifted him to be yet another self-deluded messiah in the loony bin that is the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Good riddance to him.
By leaving the Liberals, slamming the dunny door on the way out, Bernardi may think he’s striking a powerful blow for his idiosyncratic version of conservatism against the progressive cancer he believes is eating his now former party. That by doing so he is further fragmenting the centre-right vote along with the likes of One Nation, and unpleasant fringe groups even further to the Right, seems to have evaded his egotistical, messianic thinking.
Let’s be frank: the winners from Bernardi’s defection today are Bill Shorten, Labor, their union masters and the progressive luvvies with their various latte-sipper causes who will thrive under the next Labor government.
Bernardi has made the probability of a Labor win whenever the next election is held that much greater. The progressives he rails against will then be assured of a handsome victory, and the prospect of governing indefinitely with the luxury of a deeply-divided Tory opposition.
That Malcom Turnbull knew this was coming pretty well since the July election, and still didn’t lift a finger to persuade Bernardi to stay, reflects poorly on his own leadership and political judgment. He’s like the designer of the Titanic, Thomas Andrews who, as the ship was about to sink, stared into space rather than at least try to save himself. Tony Abbott saw the danger and tried to persuade Bernardi to stay within the Liberal tent, but Turnbull let it happen.
While the defection of a troubled but self-important backbencher pales into insignificance against the mass resignations of Labor ministers at the height of the Rudd-Gillard feud, for the sensible centre-right nothing good can come out of Bernardi’s defection. It plays into the eager hands of Shorten, and the progressives Bernardi so despises. The tragedy is that Bernardi himself cannot see the damage he is doing: he may finally have got off the pot, but he’s left a steaming heap behind.
The man who insists that common sense starts with him has no common sense at all.
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