Liberal Party needs to learn from history

IT is said that those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.

So it is with the personality-driven Liberal Party which is so factionally riven as to be almost inoperable at government level over the past month or so.

The lesson that conservative politicians have ignored which led to last week’s election of accidental Prime Minister Scott Morrison was, of course, delivered by the Labor Party.

It went through a similar situation during the Kevin Rudd-Julia Gillard-Kevin Rudd debacle. It was thought then that Australians would never see a more stupid and destructive leadership situation.

We have just seen much worse.

In terms of the policy issues which have plagued the Liberals, Labor has a natural advantage because of its power sharing structure.

Its caucus gives factions a way of routinely thrashing out issues without matters necessarily becoming outright public power battles.

Each faction holds a percentage of the vote and each faction may join with other factions to push candidates or policies or try to block them.

It does not necessarily guarantee that Labor will never have major upheavals but it goes a long way to creating a situation where most members feel they at least have been heard and had a vote.

If a faction does not get support, it is up to members to change policy or decide to remain as a ginger group agitating for change from within caucus.

It also helps avoid the situation with the Liberals where whichever of the two sides wins kicks the other to death as it shares out prizes like ministerial seats and policy positions.

Complicating this is that contemporary politics is a difficult thing. MPs face pressures not previously seen.

Politicians are treated hideously on social media and have to tangle with a brutal 24-hour media cycle. Much of what politicians do these days also is poll driven.

This can produce policies that are difficult to swallow for those on the extreme edges – far right or far left – causing them to feel left out of party processes.

Labor and Liberals need to learn from this disastrous situation because so far the only people profiting are portrait artists whose works of former leaders adorn the halls of Parliament.