Leading article Australia

Good ship Libs now Ruddick-less

17 July 2021

9:00 AM

17 July 2021

9:00 AM

The Liberal party is adrift, a large, ugly and ungainly tanker that has slipped its moorings and is taking on water as it flounders in a turbulent and unpredictable sea. On the bridge, an ineffectual captain navigates by opinion polls and focus groups, with sinister factional bosses whispering in his ear. Some, who recognise the dangers, have already abandoned ship or been tossed overboard.

And now, the vessel’s finest, most knowledgeable, most talented and most perceptive navigator has taken to the life rafts: John Ruddick. It is an ill omen for the Liberals.

John Ruddick, who writes regularly in these pages as well as for our online magazine Flat White, has been one of the great thinkers of the modern Liberal party for over three decades. He has worked as a policy adviser, ran for federal president and penned the insightful Make the Liberal Party Great Again in 2018; a manifesto for Liberal party supporters around Australia that called for a dramatic overhaul to free up democratic processes at all levels of the party and defeat the poison of the factional bosses. Sadly, that call was largely ignored. Then came Covid and all conservative common sense was jettisoned as the Morrison government embraced authoritarianism and big spending whilst allowing a motley cohort of Labor premiers to decimate small businesses and family livelihoods.

‘I had hoped the Liberal party would rediscover its Thatcher-style convictions of a generation ago… but have recently concluded that is a false hope.  We need a fresh start,’ Mr Ruddick wrote on Flat White this week.

As far as Mr Ruddick is concerned, the last twelve months has seen a monumental betrayal of Liberal values on three separate fronts. As he explains, ‘The Liberal party has engineered the Covid-state, has all but given us zero carbon by 2050 and has our debt soaring to Jupiter. Three strikes and you are out.’

To those Liberals who pretend that the authoritarian and big-spending reaction to Covid is in keeping with Menzies support for ‘the forgotten people’, Mr Ruddick is scathing: ‘This is not a deviation from the Menzian founding of the party – it’s a betrayal. The hope of the side had been the small government/conservative faction… but they’ve barely said a word.  If they cannot speak up now, what use are they?’ he laments.

The good news is that Mr Ruddick is not disappearing altogether. Indeed, the life raft he has hopped into bears the name ‘Liberal Democrat’. John Ruddick will now run in the seat of Warringah at the next federal election against Zali Steggall, the lightweight usurper who ousted Tony Abbott on a mixture of extremist climate alarmism (which at times bordered on child abuse), help from the ghastly GetUp! organisation and a laughable pretence at being a lapsed Liberal.

Inspired by the success of the Liberal Democrats’ David Limbrick in Victoria, Mr Ruddick is also optimistic that the party can hold the balance of power in the Senate, thereby providing some conservative ballast to help steady the leftward lurch of the Coalition government. And he has done the maths.

‘15 per cent of the vote in the UK or the US delivers zero power, but in Australia it’s likely to deliver the balance of power in the Senate. If the LDP can win 15 per cent at the coming federal election we can at a minimum be a handbrake on the reckless spending and begin the dismantling of the Covid-state.’

Also in this week’s Covid notes, Speccie writer Sanjeev Sabhlok explains why he, too, has helped launch a new political party, Australia’s Representatives, determined to take on the lies and deceit surrounding the Covid lockdowns.

The danger is, of course, that a fragmentation of the conservative vote into smaller parties will be counter-productive, but that remains to be seen.

In the meantime, we wish John Ruddick all the best. The voters of Warringah deserve a lot better than their current quasi-Greens, hypocritical, virtue-signalling climate doomsday alarmist. In Mr Ruddick, they would have a representative with great business credentials, values, integrity and well-honed political instincts.

Perhaps the time is now right for the Liberal Democrats to give Australia a party worthy of those two words.

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