Friday, July 21, 2006

Political Puberty Blues – Chapter 1

Ah f#ck it! If John Hyde-Page can write a Mills & Boon novel about his days as a Young Lib, why can’t I? Here goes …

During the mid-1990’s, when I was on the executive of the Bankstown Young Liberals, I attended a meeting at the Kirribilli Hotel, just across the road from Milson’s Point Railway Station on the north side of Sydney harbour.

The meeting was called by an old colleague from Macquarie University named NC. My friends from Bankstown Young Libs (most of whom, like me, were Macquarie University Law graduates) knew NC as a guy who acted as a sleeper amongst the hard-left at Macquarie University.

NC organized a small sleeper-cell of capitalist environmentalists who had impeccable conservative credentials unknown to the hard-left. They ran a ticket for the Macquarie University Student Union Board, and managed to get quite a few hard-left tickets to give them preferences.

NC’s covert organization skills were impressive. So when he decided to apply his skills to organizing against the liberal-left, we were all excited.

NC had managed to attract quite a few ex-Groupers over to our side. Amongst them was a very smart chap who was completing his PhD in American History from the University of Sydney. PP was also editor of a small but impressive newsletter called The Atlas.

It was at that meeting that I met the endorsed conservative candidate for the Young Liberal presidency. JR was a likeable and down-to-earth guy from the country. He seemed sincere and was genuinely conservative without being an embarrassing bigot.

Also at the meeting were some people from the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation (ALSF) including one delegate from Queensland.

It was at this meeting that I met, for the first time, someone I had heard about. JR introduced me to a smiling middle-aged chap as follows: “Irfan, it is my pleasure to introduce you to one of the dead-set legends of the right, David Clarke.”

JR later became a staffer for the newly-elected MP for Parramatta Ross Cameron. Unfortunately, my relationship with JR deteriorated after he led a coup against the President of that branch who was also Ross Cameron’s campaign secretary (and also happened to be my partner at the time).

JR enjoyed poking fun at the hard-left, and was particularly fond of taking the piss out of the politically correct fixations of some people. Hence he was a perfect candidate to play the role of “Banjo” on Stan Zemanek’s evening show on Radio 2UE.

Banjo’s role was to pretend to be a dole-bludger who would spend much of his time drinking and smoking pot. At the same time, Banjo had this ability to come up with coherent social and economic policy. The role was quite controversial, and I am surprised that JR’s employer Ross Cameron never found out.

In case you have read this far, I will try my best to continue with this story. I might then be able to introduce you all to some more interesting characters – like the Young Liberal Presidential candidate for the Right who ended up falling hopelessly in love with a Group staffer. Or about that really cool guy who went to a Bankstown Young Liberals meeting and screamed out to the Hon John Ryan MLC the following words of endearment: “You f#cking chetnik!”

Stay tuned for more!

© Irfan Yusuf 2006