Some choice cuts from Jennifer Oriel’s column in today’s Australian “Liberal partyroom meeting shapes as crucial for conservatives”
“….Today marks a pivotal moment in Australian political life that will change the course of conservative politics for better or worse.
If Malcolm Turnbull decides to exclude Tony Abbott from his new ministry, it will be read by many as a rejection of substantive conservatism by the Liberal Party. Conservative MPs will be left to decide whether to defend conservatism in a party led by centrists or forge a future beyond it.
The Liberals’ post-election partyroom meeting this morning will be anything but routine. In the fortnight following the federal election, several Liberal MPs made plain their intention to fight for conservative principles in a direct appeal to the people regardless of party politics.
The seeds of discontent stirring within the Coalition were sown by the coup against Abbott, which was preceded by a sustained attack on conservative MPs. An extraordinary feature of the coup was that the attack was not restricted to Abbott loyalists but broadened to an offensive against conservative philosophy per se. There has been little attempt to correct the path of the anti-conservative putsch within the Liberal Party. As a result, the Coalition is bleeding political capital. The party of moral principle appears loosened from its moral moorings.
For conservatives, moral principle is the motive force of politics. In the context of substantive conservatism, morality serves as the foundation of philosophy, politics, spirituality and society. It connects the past, present and future, creating the continuous history of Western civilisation.
The moral compass of conservatism distinguishes it from the other major schools of mainstream political thought. In simplified terms they are neo-Marxism, whose animus is the ideology of revolutionary socialism led by manufactured minorities; classical liberalism, whose advocates cultivate individual liberty as a counterforce to statism; and centrism, which combines pragmatism with rational planning.
The time is ripe for a conservative party in Australia, but its leader has not yet emerged. Among current MPs, only Abbott has the education, expertise, experience and temperament to lead it. Hastie is emerging as a leading light but he is too new to federal politics to assume the mantle of leadership. There are few positive portents that either will be offered the opportunity to flourish on the front benches of the new government.
At a pivotal moment in the history of the free world, conservatives must forge the continuity of Western civilisation by renewing the Christian tradition of liberty.
The totalitarian temptation — Left and Right — is a constant reminder of why the modern Liberal Party was conceived. Then, as now, the conservative tradition is the foundation of liberal democracy and the sentinel guarding the West against its enemies. It is critical that conservatism finds fertile ground in the new century.
Conservatives in Australia and beyond must decide whether centrism and the centre-right empower or inhibit the flourishing of conservatism. The triumph of freedom and the future of the free world hang in the balance…”