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Liberal Party: papering the contradictions « Previous | |Next »
May 27, 2010

The basic problem faced by the Liberal Party is to reconcile the differences between being electorally viable by appealing to the middle ground and the Liberals standing for something that appeals to their conservative base.

Some say that it is a contradiction that it is increasingly coming out into the open, and that it this ducking and weaving that undercuts their credibility.


Unlike the Republicans in the US the Liberal Party finds itself unable to openly articulate its right wing agenda. They allude and gesture to it (eg., climate change) whilst posing as conservative populists deeply concerned with their small business and the Howard battlers constituency.

They have to swing this way and that way as their electoral politics is a balancing act between two starkly different constituencies (big business and Howard battlers). To retain credibility they have to spin the balancing act so that the presence of contradictions do not become too open.

The trouble is that the current front bench are not that good at it working the contradiction between the middle ground and party base. The standard attack on Labor on everything, for instance, appeals to the conservative base, but it then pushes them away from the middle ground.

Another example is that their usual kind of covering over of the cracks was thrown to one side with their open support for the big multinational miners over the proposed super profits tax. The attempts to link this support to their other traditional constituencies ---rising cost of living etc---fell flat as the stretch was too great for the fabric.

So they openly spoke for big business--- they looked naked as their conservative populist clothing fell away and they came out defending the power of the big miners over that of an elected government. Governments in a liberal democracy, it seems, should further the interests of big business.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:09 PM | | Comments (13)


another contradiction is that Abbott says the Liberal party stands for small government, individual freedom, competition and low taxes. Yet his parental leave policy is big tax and big government.

you won't be able to link to New Matilda much longer. Sadly, they are closing down

Australian politics is in a woeful place largely, I think, because of the respective leaders.

The Rudd Party is the nothing at all party. Or the We Were Something But We're Postponing It party.

The Abbott Party has swan dived off the Howard precipice into the depths of lunacy. They call themselves conservative, but there's nothing conservative about deliberately stirring up animosity between sections of society. They stand for perpetual anger.

Another contradiction is Abbott’s recent climate change policy. On the one hand, there is free-market, ‘business as usual’ emissions intensity policy. On the other hand, there is Abbott's very un-liberal proposal of a state-funded grants scheme to support emissions reductions.

I don't think we're supposed to expect consistency of principle from the Abbott Liberals any more than we expect consistency from Andrew Bolt or Alan Jones. The philosophical foundations of Australian party politics are gone.

Abbott, amazingly, persists in saying the falling stock market and the collapsing Australian dollar are all due to the resource tax on mining companies' super profits. It has nothing to do with the Euro zone's economic problems or share prices falling on stock changes around the world.

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and can pretty much say what he likes in his big anger pose to stir things up. That's his job for the Murdoch empire.

Abbott is an alternative prime minister and cannot say outrageous things without losing credibility. He's slowly losing it on economic matters.

I'm with Malcolm Fraser. The Liberal Party is no longer a liberal party, it is a conservative party whose rhetoric is often economic liberalism. Increasingly that rhetoric has little content. What has emerged with Abbott is a turn American-style "movement" conservatism -- militant, intolerant and anti-intellectual.

With the Labor Party encroaching on more-and-more right-wing territory, the gLibs are being forced make friends at the darker end of the swamp.

That's fine with me, except for a couple of concerns... I don't really like the territory that Labor has grabbed.. and I don't like the idea that the GLibs might be dragging some of their more loyal [unquestioning?] followers into the even more unwholesome, foetid waters.

Abbott's "new" border protection policy is an action replay of the Howard government's Pacific solution. The Australian reckons that the Coalition may be on a vote-winner by going back to square one on asylum-seekers.

It looks to me as though Abbott is taking his lines from News Ltd's nutter collection. The circular relationship between them is evident in the example George pointed to.

I don't see how we can have civilised discussion of policy when one side is permanently hysterical.

hysterical? Ruthless. How is Abbott going to turn the boats back?

One option for Abbott to turns the boats back is by sinking the boats in international waters then letting the asylum seekers drown. That sends a clear message--we don't want you non-white people people here.

This boat people thing the Libs have going at the moment is as disgusting as it gets. They know they can't do what they're saying without breaking international maritime laws if a vessel is in distress, which a lot of them are. Or patrol Indonesian waters, which might pose a couple of problems.

Seeing Ruddock front and centre again on TV last night made me ill. If they keep it up this could be an election to ignore.