The Liberal Party’s tribulations are all of its own making

The Liberal Party’s tribulations are all of its own making, by Paul Kelly.

The Liberal Party is divided against itself and alienated from the political centre. This is a dual crisis and it runs deep. The truth is that recovery and reconstruction will take years. In the interim, Scott Morrison will govern as best he can, minimise the damage and hold out for a May federal election. …

The Liberals have misread the times. They struggle to talk to their own voters because they are ­unsure of their core beliefs. They have lost the battle of ideas and are usually outplayed by Labor at tactical politics. There are two rival mythologies fashioned from within — the conservative and the progressive — and this split is worsen­ing despite Morrison’s best efforts. …

They are victims of this transformation ­because the electoral base of the Liberals and the Coalition has ­become far more difficult to hold together: its seats constitute the richest and poorest in income terms; the most progressive and most conservative in cultural terms; the most dedicated and sceptical of climate change action; the most pro-renewable and pro-coal in energy terms; and the most supportive and critical of big business and the banks in institutional terms. …

Liberals MPs are split primarily because their voting bases are split. The conservatives destroyed the Turnbull leadership because, they said, he was unable to relate to the conservative base, notably in Queensland. That week many Victorian Liberal MPs warned the cost in their state would be fatal — then they voted for Morrison over Peter ­Dutton.

A decade later, with no Royal Commission, red team, or other due diligence, it is still climate change that is a (the?!) major issue in Australian politics. If they asked me I could show them where the error in all the climate models is (book coming).

Prominent Victorian and Senate president Scott Ryan … called on the party to mend its ways and “to cast the net wide in the Menzies and Howard tradition”. This is harder than ­before, yet it is essential.

It is, however, undermined by the conservative lobby and its ­relentless push for policies that put a premium on product discrimination and that constitute electoral suicide: abandonment of emission reduction targets; attacking renewables; promoting a government-owned coal power station; quitting the Paris Agreement; throwing out the national energy guarantee and being more sceptical of climate change. These policies are the kiss of death in Victoria and much of the country.

Crazy. The carbon dioxide theory of global warming is just a theory, and contradicted by the empirical evidence. Yet people entirely ignorant of the underpinnings of the theory fight to the political death and sacrifice the economic well being of their country over it.