Monday, 30 November 2009

When the party turns sour!

A curious concatenation of articles in today's Advertiser (pp 22-23). The occasional legal article by Richard Mellows , president of the Law Society, is entitled "Who to blame when party turns sour" and sits opposite the weekly article by former Liberal Minister Alexander Downer.
But Mellows' fairly innocuous article is not about the implosion of the Liberal Party, but rather about the duty of care that clubs and licensed premises might have towards their patrons if a fracas breaks out.
A. Downer's article is perhaps less outrageous than his usual weekly provocations; it reminds us that this particular crisis is an important one: Not all is lost for the Liberals at the next election, he says, but they had better make the right decisions this week. If they don't, it could take quite a few years to return to the treasury benches.
As is often observed our system of government depends on strong Opposition and it would be good if this could be re-established.
What, however, it seems to me is the problem for the Liberals (or any politicians for that matter) is how do you balance idealism or initiative with political expediency.
On the one hand if we are to address difficult issues then initiative needs to be encouraged (muddling along just won't do), but in order to be able to implement innovative policy you have to be able to have grass roots rapport and support.
The Liberals in the last decade seemed to master this identification of what rang bells with the electorate.
At times this was nasty. The illegal immigration fiascos worked as a scare-mongering tactic. Still do! And they worked as a vote winner as they appealed to insecurity.
The electorate is pretty conservative, and this works against innovation and idealism.
So I suggest that forces within the Liberal Party have decided "Blow the idealism" we need to create a clear sense of difference between us and the Government. It is the beginning of a scare tactic in essence. And will get grubbier.

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