Malcolm Fraser has resigned from the Liberal Party.
This has been prompted by the Party moving too much from the right for his liking. But unfortunately there has been a drift to the right of both major parties.
It’s quite a revelation that if you look at the social policies of the Liberal Party in the 60’s and 70’s (not necessarily the economic ones, which have been fairly constantly pro-business and anti-Unions) many of them would be seen as ‘left’ and even too risky for the Labor Party to take on.
After all the founder of the Liberal Party, Sir Robert Menzies, I think had a different idea of what the Party should be. He believed that individuals, free from interference (especially from governments and Unions) are the best judges of how to conduct their lives and to maintain a healthy economy. But also there was a strong idea of creating a cohesive community and Menzies was not shy to use Government for this aim.
I think also that there are regional differences. The Liberal Party in Victoria (where the Party was created) has always been more ‘left’ (or ‘wet’ if you want to use that methodology) than in NSW or Queensland (with the honourable exception of Peter Baum). People like Fraser, Ian McPhee, Peter Georgiou, Marie Tehan have advocated policies (especially on Asylum Seekers) that are now seen more akin to the Greens than to the ALP.
People in the ALP have left (including myself BTW) as it drifted to a populist tabloid media driven policies. While the ALP drifted from the centre left to the centre and even going to some centre right positions, the Liberal Party drifted even more on the right.
I also think that Howard has transformed the Party attracting people who were quite right wing that previously felt the Liberals to be ‘too bleeding heart’ in some aspects. These more rooted right wing people now find the Liberal Party as their home, thus leaving the traditional old fashion ‘liberal Liberals’ in the outer. Proof of this was that when a more traditional Liberal such as Malcolm Turnbull led the party and wanted things like the ETS lots of rank and file Liberals weren’t happy.
I also think that unfortunately some Liberal (and climate change is an example) see the USA Republican Party as an example. And this is a pernicious influence on Australian politics.
As Kerryn Goldsworthy says on the blog Still Life With Cat some thoughts must go to Fraser. It must be hard to be 80 and deciding that an institution that has had your loyalty all your adult life is something to which you can no longer bear to belong.