Flat White

Liberals note: only the impotent are pure

8 May 2018

4:07 PM

8 May 2018

4:07 PM

I read with great interest David Pellowe’s response to my Flat White article on factionalism in the Victorian division of the Liberal party.

He is entitled to his views, as I to mine.  When it comes to the future of the Liberal party, especially in Victoria, however, the factional outcome he defends is not returning to the base of mainstream Liberal party support, it is moving away from it.

For the record, I am a member of the Victorian division of the Liberal party, of a conservative rather than a small ‘l’ persuasion, but I do not and cannot support an agenda driven by other than mainstream centre-right thinking and values reflecting the hopes and aspirations of Australians.

For the record, threatened senator Jane Hume did not resist the repeal of the notorious 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act: she voted for it.

For the record, defying the federal leader and pursuing sitting senators facing an election the Coalition already must fight against the tide to win is folly.

The Victorian Liberals over most of the last thirty years have had at least two factions, competing with each other for power and influence. While factionalism is unwelcome (I am aligned with no faction, never have been and never will be), at least having two competing factions in Victoria like the Kennett v Kroger ‘forces’ meant some internal equilibrium, attempts by their respective leaders and MPs to reach workable consensus, and a general recognition the party is a broad church accommodating, as a certain Victorian Liberal named Bob Menzies once said, both classical liberal and conservative thought and values.

This is not the case now.

I’ve strongly and openly disagreed with some decisions taken by state Liberal president Michael Kroger, such as the litigation against the party’s biggest donor, the Cormack Foundation. But I respect that Kroger understands the party, its origins and traditions, and is deeply connected with – indeed loves with a passion – its history. He understands the Liberal party’s historic mission is to be an anti-Labor party of government based on classic and mainstream centre-right values.

To me it seems that what is happening now is a rejection of that mission, risking a long time in the wilderness for the mighty Liberal party.

And as for the idea that it is better to be for the Liberal Party in Opposition than compromise ideals, think of Labor lost in that self-same wilderness for 23 years. As Gough Whitlam said then, only the impotent are pure.

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