11 February 2008

Too long silent

The Liberal Party looked to be out of power for a generation in 1972, but just under three years later it was back in government - led by Malcolm Fraser. His article on the Liberal Party is long overdue, and the problems he describes not unique to Victoria.

It's one thing for someone like me to complain about the Liberal Party, but it's quite another for a former Prime Minister from that party to do so. The issue about plebiscites across the party membership really is the only way to break the power of factions, and to place responsibility for them onto all party members. Those who put the Liberal Party where it is today could claim a monopoly of political sophistication, while those of us kicking against the bricks could be confirmed in our marginalisation.

The issue of branches and their linkage to specific geographic areas and electorates remains a structural flaw in the Liberal Party, and presumably in other parties too. Fraser offers no answers. He is spot on with identifying the fear social conservatives have of broad debate: that fear has been reinforced in recent years by the paranoid Darth Vader-style monomania of US Vice President Cheney, but it began from dissatisfaction with the dissent in the Fraser Government that eventually saw it unravel.

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