Flat White

Now the Liberal loyalists must make their case

10 February 2017

7:06 AM

10 February 2017

7:06 AM

Liberal Party loyalists, right-wing pragmatists, and parliamentary purists are currently wringing their hands and lambasting Cory Bernardi’s decision to break away from the Coalition as variously craven, selfish, foolish, and against the rules of our parliamentary democracy. Some of them might have a point. Some might be creating more heat than light. Others are just venting.

However, one thing that does stand out, at this somewhat extraordinary point in Australian political history, is that there is a significant gap in right-wing discourse. The gap that needs filling is the case for conservatives sticking with the Liberal Party. As Simon Kennedy wrote in the Speccie back in October, the available evidence suggests conservatives might reasonably consider other options.

So, the question remains to be answered: why should you, oh voter of a Burkean disposition, keep putting a “1” next to your local Liberal candidate? We have heard from various members of the parliamentary party that the Liberals continue to represent the best hope for conservative voters. We know what those conservatives within the parliamentary party want and think best. Vote Liberal.


But simply stating that the Liberal Party is the best option for conservative voters is not making the case. It is begging the question. Those who Liberal Party conservatives think ought to vote Liberal need to know why. My challenge to those conservatives faithful to the Liberal Party is this: persuade and convince. Make your case.

One swallow does not a summer make, just as one Turnbull does not a party break. Deep down, conservatives know this. But they also know that Turnbull, Pyne, Bishop, and Brandis are not Howard, Costello, Abetz and Abbott. And they’re certainly not Menzies. Turnbull and Howard could work together coherently in the same party. But that was when conservatism was still alive and well in the Liberal Party. That was a decade ago.

So, go to it. Show your people why they should stick with you. If you won’t or can’t, you might need to stop complaining about Craven Cory and Brazen Bernardi. He’s articulating a vision for a party that is attractive to conservatives. Go ahead and do the same, if you’re willing. If the price of unity is silence, Bernardi’s decision to leave will make more and more sense. However, if you articulate your vision, voters might return and you will make the party stronger and the country better.

J. PTulkinghorn is the pseudonym of a public policy researcher and freelance writer.

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