How was the Liberal Party reduced to its present sorry state? In a sense the Liberal Party at both state and federal levels really consists of two specific groups. There is the establishment that treats the membership with disdain and then there is the party’s shrinking base. The job of the base is pay-up and shut up. It is there to man polling booths, hand out leaflets and wave placards, nothing more, other than pay party dues. To the establishment the idea that any member of the base could have something of value to say is considered risible. Victoria is a perfect test case for this scornful attitude. Party bluebloods like Michael Kroger and David Kemp set out to make it impossible for informed members of the base to make themselves heard. Kroger ensured that members of the base would not be allowed to use the Liberal Speakers Group as a means of communicating ideas and informed opinion to their fellow Liberals. It is because of these characters that Menzies “forgotten people have returned”.
The establishment elite decided that in future only influential people (sic) would be invited to speak at the LSG. Those little nobodies, of which the base consists, would only be permitted to listen to their superiors and then be thankful for the privilege. For those who think I exaggerate, allow me to remind you that in December 2007 the imperious David Kemp — he was then the party’s state president — tried to gag ordinary party members. Having insulted the base, he then had the unmitigated gall to announce that Julian Sheezel — who was then State Director of the Victorian Liberal Party — had done an “exceptional job” during the federal campaign despite the fact that ‘Iron Man Julie,’ as we called him, was another Kroger pick and a complete failure1.
“The mighty Kroger”, as his very good mate Andrew Bolt called him, couldn’t pick a winner in a one-horse race. Being a loser didn’t stop Kroger from banning the formation of new branches because he feared they would pose a danger to what is laughably called his leadership. So rather than expand the party structure he worked to truncate it, even as the party was bleeding members.
The utter incompetence and selfish behaviour of the establishment created a barrier to anyone with genuine leadership ability from ever emerging from the base to challenge an establishment hack. The base craves a genuine leader, not some merchant banker, not any stock market paper-pusher, and certainly not someone picked by a bunch of Toorak bluebloods. But this crew believe, as does Cameron Thompson, a former member Howard’s Coalition Government, that “[l]eadership comes from above”. On the contrary, leadership arises from the most unlikely places — including the bottom.
The Liberal Party also needs to rid itself of that cunning breed of political parasites otherwise known as consultants. Their advice is derived from watching the ABC (Australian Bolshevik Collective) and reading the left-wing rags like The Age and The Guardian. They then repackage this ideological drivel and flog it as a research paper that provides a sure-fire roadmap to electoral success. And people wonder why the Liberal Party is always shifting to the left. If you need a political consultant to tell you what to think and do then you should find another line of work.
The Liberal Party’s most grievous self-inflicted wound was Howard’s suicidal “broad church” fantasy. A broad church is not a church at all and a “broad church” political party is one that has abandoned its basic guiding principles and is reduced to pragmatism which is a fancy word for whatever they think will work.
Now it is true that the Liberal Party had been trending away from its founding principles for years but Howard’s delusional statement sanctioned the trend and accelerated it. This brought into the party more so-called ‘moderates’2 who were infected by green ideology to which Scott Morrison cravenly surrendered in 2021 when he declared that the party had adopted the Greens’ “net zero emissions” policy. These same ‘moderates’ constantly call for the party to seek the middle ground. But what is the middle ground and why is it always moving one direction? The party should take the wise advice of Abraham Lincoln who said of such advice:
Let us not be diverted by more of these sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belaboured — contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong3.
Rather than cravenly bending to public surveys and listening to the siren cries of ‘moderates’ the party should be directly challenging those leftist groups that are continually shifting public opinion to the left. They could start by exposing Marxist frauds like Adam Bandt4. Fat chance.
1In 2006 I had an email exchange with Sheezel about Liberal Party’s approach to labour markets, economic growth and GDP. His ignorance of economics and economic history was staggering. He took the coward’s way out and got his secretary to terminate the exchange. And this is the man Kroger had the bloody nerve to appoint as State Director of the Victorian Liberal Party for no other reason than his promised allegiance to Kroger.
2Matthew Guy backed the anti-growth Greens’ demand for a permanent ban on fracking and the exploration of conventional onshore gas.
3Speech at the Cooper Union, New York City, 27 February 1860.