Saturday, May 27, 2006

COMMENT: Looking Back Liberally

During a recent spring clean, I happened to stumble across the Summer 2001 edition of Liberally Speaking, the NSW Liberal Party newsletter.

The focus of the issue was on the 2001 election result, in which the Coalition secured a majority of at least 10 seats over all other parties and independents.

On page 3 was a list of all seats and the swings involved. Les Osmond in Blaxland scored a phenomenal 6.5% swing on a 2-party preferred basis. Mind swings were posted against Bronwyn Bishop and Brendan Nelson.

Yet what really interested me was the photo album in the centre pages. Here were a range of persons I remember regularly ripping each other to pieces during state council meetings and at internal party ballots.

From the left were John Ryan, Phil Ruddock, Chris McDiven, Patricia Forsythe, Bob Baldwin, Peter King and Helen Coonan. From the right were Tony Abbott, David Doust, John Howard and Rachel Merton.

Ben Franklin and the NSW Young Libs ran the flying squad whose job it was to be available on short notice to assist any campaign or candidate in need of assistance. The Young Libs were exciting and a genuinely fun crowd, prepared to help even if they didn’t agree with you.

The ALP could rely on union hacks to campaign for their struggling candidates on short notice. We never had union backing. But we always had the Young Libs.

I remember running for Reid and receiving a call from Senator Marise Payne’s office the night before offering access to the flying squad. Looking back, I wish I had taken them up on their offer. My swing could have been higher.

Why do I mention all this? Because the newsletter took me back to a time when the Young Libs were a campaigning force. Whether you were wet or dry, you could rely on the Young Lib wets to help.

Today, the Young Lib dries will only help you if you belong to the right faction or because you attend church. The takeover of the Young Libs by the Religious Right (RR) has taken away that cutting edge campaigning that the NSW Young Libs were always famous for.

The refusal of Alex Hawke’s Young Libs to support John Brogden’s campaign is ample evidence that they are not unconditional about their support for the Party. Ben Franklin didn’t agree with Ross Cameron on a lot of things. But Ben Franklin was happy to lead the flying squad to help Cameron keep his seat. Alex Hawke, on the other hand, wasn’t keen for John Brogden to become Premier of NSW.

Back in the mid-1990’s, I never had much time for the small “l” liberals (even if I probably agreed with them on most things). But one thing I will always give them credit for. They were enthusiastic and vibrant. And they were basically nice people. They tended to value friendships and relationships more than people on our side.

And now we see the divisive politics of the RR pushing even their natural allies away. When the Religious Right are even prepared to roll devout Christians like Wayne Merton, it is time to start worrying and acting.

If Peter Debnam is to have any hope of becoming Premier, he really has no option but to stop appeasing the RR. He has done the right thing by standing by sitting MP’s subject to RR challenge. What he also needs to do is reign in the rhetoric of RR activists who use all kinds of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim rhetoric on e-mail groups (and in anonymous posts on this blog) and who sprout this nonsense to journalists.

The people of NSW need to have a choice between the ALP and the Coalition. They don’t want to be faced with a choice between the ALP and the Christian Democrats. If concerned Liberal Party members don’t watch out, they might their party becoming unelectable. In which case, even 10 of Ben Franklin’s flying squads won’t be able to help.

Words © 2006 Irfan Yusuf


Anonymous said...

What is absolutely fascinating to read here, is your attempt to suck up to the left of the Liberal Party, when in the past you were part of a grouping of conservative and libertarian forces which despised them.

The way ahead for those of us that are right wingers, yet not of the roman catholic religious right, is not through the morally and intellectualy bankrupt morons of the much depleted left.

We must position ourselves as conservatives and libertarians who are not captives of the roman catholic church cabal.

Anonymous said...

Hello Irfan

I am friends with quite a few Liberals although I am not one myself, they are very active in the Pittwater and Epping areas for the Liberal party. They consider themselves left and are part of the Group faction or the moderates as they call themselves now. They say that their faction has had control in NSW for a period of twenty years until two years ago. A major problem they say is people like Ben Franklin, Sam Witheridge, Michael Photious and Don Harwin, Joe Hockey, Marise Payne these people want back room power and not interested in winning government, privately these people hate the most successful prime minister in the last twenty five years. This is why many group people like thenselves are voting for change, ordinary party members want to win at a state level and the facts are that under John Brogdens leadership the Liberal Party lost seats at every election, he faced. In 2007 the party needs to win 16 seats, and anyone in the know, knows that this is practically impossible and will still be hard in 2011 state election. What the party needs is a fresh change of direction it needs stars who can perform not professional backbenchers who have no wish to be in government. The sitting MP's who are not performing need to be culled unfortunately Peter Debnam does not have the guts to do this and has personally got involved to protect, Don Harwin in the Upper house, Judy Hopwood, Wayne Merton, Steven Pringle, Andrew Humpherson, Michael Richardson, to name a few. The party needs to reinvent itself with a fresh face, not to protect the people that have contributed to its current unelectable status.

Anonymous said...

The Liberal Party Righters and Lefters, Dry and Wets, are all amatuers. You have to be part of the Liberal Illuminati, followers of the Masonic Order of Martinism. Howard made it through and danced to the Masonic tunes (his war agianst iraq, and support for the israeli regime). Howard now has made a mistake which wont be revealed to historian for a good 20 years, thats why the Illuminati are paving his downfall. Meanwhile Costello (for his anti muslim, and anti multiculturalism agenda) is a new favourite, the new Australian dancer to the Masonic tunes. Like Howard, his strings are being pulled without himself knowing.

Law Student said...

Illuminati theorist is insane.

Augustus said...

I often wonder if the insane ranting on this site are the manifestations of Irf's multiple personalities or if indeed there are that many people who are as psychologically deficient as he is. If the latter is the case, then this site is indeed like a pile of shit around which like minded flies gather. I still think that Irf has a little Sybil action going on.

Quasimodo heard the bells. Irf hears the voices.