Flat White

Can shock treatment save the Liberal Party?

10 January 2019

8:28 AM

10 January 2019

8:28 AM

As 2019 gets underway, the Coalition finds itself in arguably its worst political position in recent memory. All the opinion polls point to a crushing Labor victory in the next election and internally the Liberal Party’s ongoing ideological battles over its future directions show no sign of abating.

Meanwhile, Labor under opposition leader Bill Shorten continues to run roughshod over the profoundly weakened Morrison minority government, leading to a great deal of speculation that the Prime Minister will be forced to call an election sooner than originally planned – or even challenged.

In recent years it has become abundantly clear that the “broad church” approach to conservative politics of John Howard has come to an end. With the recent internal infighting, the Coalition has shared more in common with the factional battles of the Labor Party under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, than the stable and united governance provided during the Howard years.

Any sort of civil discussion about the alignment of the party and its ideological future regularly erupts into heated battles and quickly descends into what can only be described as a “blame game”. This frequent infighting fuelled by bitter personal and political rivalries going back years, only serves to further fragment an already profoundly divided party.

At some point in 2019, the Coalition is going to have to decide, how long to they want to be in opposition? Do they want to remain committed to a school of outdated conservative politics that no longer resonates with the wider electorate, or do they want to give the LNP the best possible chance of ensuring that Bill Shorten will be out of the lodge after just one term?

Regaining a competitive footing is not going to be an easy task, it will require an ideological reformation of the Liberal Party, in which difficult realisations about the reality of modern Australian politics will need to be accepted, if the Coalition is to have any chance of being a serious threat to Bill Shorten’s prime ministership.

This reformation, like all reformations is not going to be easy, before it is done the Liberal Party will likely erupt into open warfare between its different factions, as its members fight over the very soul of the modern Liberal Party.

However, only a more moderate “broad church” Liberal party reborn of the fires of its own internal conflicts can hope to meaningfully reconnect with the wider electorate, on a short enough timeline to be an effective check on Bill Shorten’s political agenda.

Despite the profound differences between the factions and the personalities of the Liberal Party, there is a common thread which unites them all, a strong belief that a Labor government cannot be allowed to pursue its political agenda without a robust Liberal Party there to resolutely oppose them.

Through pragmatism, introspection and a genuine appraisal of the values of the modern electorate, the Coalition can revive its fortunes and ensure that the Australian people have genuine alternative government waiting in the wings, ready to take the reins of power.

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