Contributed by Joe Montero
There is absolutely no doubt now, the Liberal Party is in crisis. It may not have reached the point where it is about to disappear from the political landscape, but its troubles are nevertheless serious.
The latest episode is the brawl at a party branch meeting at a Canberra café. The violence has grabbed attention. More important is behind it is a battle for control of the branch, and this is just one small part of what is happening nationwide within the party.
We saw serious division at the part’s National Conference, where resolutions were put forward and passed, like the ones concerning the privatisation of the ABC and moving the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem, seriously embarrassed the Turnbull government and propelled it into damage control.
In Victoria, the radicals have taken over the administration, on the heels of capturing the leadership of the Young Liberals. This has angered and forced the traditional conservatives into counter action. This shift it taking various forms in other states.
The government itself has long been riddled with division. The radicals, which includes deposed leader Tony Abbott, have long been circling like sharks, aiming to topple the conservatives.
In every aspect of the party’s existence the fight is on and making its way even into preselections for parliamentary representatives.
There are several reasons why this division has festered and become more guarantee that Australia is a good place to do business, if you are big business, and they were supposed to ensure political stability.
Instead, we have an emerging economic crisis, where most people are left worse off and look towards being left even worse off in the future. The poor are getting poorer and the middle finds its social position and security under threat.
Even the big end of town is not happy and demanding more. It demands a bigger slice of the pie, calls for wages to be cut, government services to be gutted and more handed over into its own hands. The Turnbull government has tried to deliver on these, but it has not been enough.
The outcome has been a sharp fall in the standing of politicians and the political institutions. They are seen as non-representative, looking out for their own n-interests above all else and thoroughly corrupt.
Australians are demanding much better than this. In some measure, this applies to the Labor Party as well. But it is the Liberal Party that is wearing most of the flack. It has been able to keep hold of the reigns of office, only through generating fear within a section of the community. The tide is turning against negative politics.
Failure on the political and economic fronts, combined with ineffective leadership, is what is generating internal factionalism, and therefore the basis for the Liberal Party’s current problems.
Since the old answers do not work, there is a search for new answers. This has created an opening for the radicals, who are putting forward their idea of more extreme capitalism. All resources are to be turned to the private sector, government is to be made as small as possible and the welfare state must go, to provide a plentiful cheap source of labour. All this is to be wrapped up in religious and other bigotry.
The radical view of the world comes together, with a firm belief in the iron fist, through the existence of more punitive laws, harsher sentencing, and the restriction of traditional rights. The supreme right, according to this faction, is the right to do business with the minimum of interruption.
Opponents within the Liberal Party fight against this. They believe the way is to carry on in a more traditional way, where there is some greater scope to involve government in the allocation of resources, maintain a welfare net and take a more humane approach. Most of this faction offers little other than what we already have. This is its weakness.
The battle between the factions represents much more than a spectacle for us to observe. Its outcome will have a significant effect on Australia’s political landscape, and this will affect us all. This is the reason why it is important.
It is the radicals who pose the major threat, and up to all those who do not want its vision implemented, to come together with a real alternative. A Liberal Party light is not the answer. This is already discredited.
An alternative vision is needed. One that always puts people first. This vision must put and empower the majority above the privileged few.
It must embrace an economics that recognises that we depend on each other and that together we can apply our human and other resources for the best outcomes, while rewarding of individuals, according to effort they contribute.