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Opinion: Liberals Long Drift From Menzies
Politics|Feb 10, 2022

Opinion: Liberals Long Drift From Menzies

The Liberal Party Has Gone From Bad To Worse Since John Howard, Writes Alexandra Marshall.
Alexandra Marshall

Political movements need a figurehead. Sir Robert Menzies is the wooden sculpture lashed to the bow of the Liberal Party vessel, breasts crashing against the waves.

Conservatism and classical liberalism are more difficult to define than Labor’s trade unionism. Hence, it’s typical for a Liberal leader to pad out election campaigns with past achievements.

Spreadsheets work for the Canberra bureaucracy, but politics requires a sense of theatre to win elections. Look at the rise 
of Trump and success of Farage who unchained Britain from the European Union.

There are very few in history whose memory has elevated beyond the sum of their actions. Menzies is not only the longest-serving prime minister, he’s the ideological template of the Liberal party. When struggling for relevance, Liberal MPs dredge up Menzies’ words hoping to profit from their echo. His name is invoked as if summoning a god. 

The problem is: words can be worn as camouflage. Too many seat-warmers and careerists have infiltrated the party. Their existence is protected by the unshakeable dominance of the party.

Australia’s extended period of peace has eaten away at the Liberal soul. The electorate pay little attention to those in power, voting for parties – not candidates.

John Howard, arguably the last true Menzian, was also the architect of the party’s destruction. His mistake was an act of desperation, not malicious intent. While Howard cleaned up the economic cataclysm left by Keating, his party room bickered over factional power. A few gangrenous lefties shuffled mates into safe seats until real conservatives were sidelined in favour of Labor-lite MPs. Howard was forced to accept this factional shift.

Spreadsheets work for the Canberra bureaucracy, but politics requires a sense of theatre to win elections

By the time the Liberal Party elected Turnbull, there wasn’t much to salvage. Liberal-in-name-only MPs were knifing each other long before China sneezed and Australia caught communism. To be fair, our defences were down; two decades of neo-Marxism made it the perfect incubator.

Menzies fought communism, attempting to have it outlawed – momentarily betraying his love of liberty in the face of a threat he considered mortally dangerous to Australia.

A Liberal Party that understood its role on the political spectrum would have held firm against demands of unelected, international bureaucracies cowering under China’s will. Under no circumstance would Menzies be herded into a two-tiered caste system of segregation, discrimination and bullying. He stared up from the depths of global war and fought against his own party’s desire to curtail freedom in the name of safety. He noted with horror the only true limit of political control over the people of Australia was the ethics of the prime minister.

Scott Morrison is not a man of ethics. His position on fundamental principles flips about like a click-beetle. When the law tells him ‘no’, his first instinct is to bend the law to his will. 

The net result is a Liberal Party crowding Labor’s territory. 

Liberals demonising innocent workers as a solution to self-inflicted pandemic strife are discriminating against Menzies’ forgotten people.

Minor parties have rushed to scoop up voters bleeding out of the Liberals on all sides, creating an unofficial conservative alliance. These aren’t stragglers; they’re the beating heart of blue ribbon Liberals, carrying the passion lacking in Morrison.

The United Australia Party’s Craig Kelly, swelling ranks of the Liberal Democrats, and the enduring counter-force of One Nation act as tide markers, exposing how far the Liberals have receded from their values. They are the Menzian Renaissance; tearing the Liberals to shreds.

Menzies made citizens believe in themselves. His enduring message was one of government empowering people through liberty. Morrison’s legacy will be fear mongering, political desperation, and a population divided in a betrayal of the Australian spirit.

Menzies made some bad calls. As with most legends, the details of the man are not important – only the idealised vision he left behind.

This leaves us with a question; is Menzies dead?