08 January 2008

When all else fails

This article shows that the Liberals will do the right thing only when all other alternatives have failed. If Graham Jaeschke was the answer, then you're asking the wrong question.

Anna McPhee has always been regarded as a golden girl in the NSW Libs and has not let anyone down in her eleven years as a Liberal government staffer and appointee. It's telling that none of the self-appointed trustees of the trademark of feminism - Anne Summers, Eva Cox, or The Queen O'er The Water, Germaine Greer - have gone after her, or made any sort of useful critique of her work. One would have expected a Labor government to dump someone like McPhee as early as possible and replace her with someone with some femocrat who a) cut her teeth in the Whitlam Government, b) failed to win preselection due to some factional skullduggery and is offered this job as compensation, or c) both.

Paul Ritchie, Scott Briggs and David Elliott are three others who could make a positive contribution to the future of the Liberal Party, and indeed who should be judged harshly if they do not do so. Ritchie should replace Brad Hazzard as soon as possible, because the electorate of Wakehurst should be represented by someone other than a piece of furniture. Scott Briggs has worn all of the penalties of factional activity without enjoying the benefits, which is a shame as he does convincing impressions of a decent bloke. Elliott should keep gunning for Alex Hawke: he would make an effective contribution so long as he can hire staff of substance who can help him curb his tendency to think all problems can be fixed by getting people to shut up while indulging his own penchant for comments that make people cringe.

They also indicate that the party has written off the entire generation of baby boomers, none of whose more useful members could apparently be enticed to lead it effectively.
Mr Phelps, an ex-chief of staff of the former federal minister Gary Nairn, said he had 'no intention of running at this stage for the [state director's] job and it would take a lot of convincing for me to do otherwise'.

Anyone who attempted to convince Phelps otherwise would be so crazy that their opinion would not be worth heeding.

Phelps, like his contemporary and nemesis Jason Falinski, spends an inordinate amount of time planning and digging a hole into which he promptly falls. People wishing to avoid joining Peter in a hole of his own devising should avoid shackling themselves to him.
The director is likely to face strong opposition to the changes. Some long-term and senior figures in the party have held meetings to attempt to start a centre-right faction to counter the influence of the right-wing powerbroker David Clarke.

The trouble with that is that the 'centre-right' should not be so small that it needs an actual faction. The Liberal Party works best with a small far-right faction, a small moderate faction, and a large amorphous mass in the middle which occasionally chooses the better candidates from one or the other but generally shuns both. The Liberal Party's main problem is that this large amorphous mass is not so large (indeed it's too small to be amorphous) and is not representative of the community it would hope to represent, in age or any other demographic.

Previous attempts at a 'centre-right' faction have foundered because they become cults of personality to those who found them, and once those people get preselection they let the faction slide. It's always hard to pin down any actual beliefs of a "centre right" Liberal; they tend to define themselves by what they're not, don't have any philosophical base to speak of (not even dimly-remembered university texts) and slide away from benchmarks against which they might be measured.

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