I think it’s fairly plain that conservatism in Australia is going to continue to wheel out Little Johnny Howard every time the party bank balance looks a little sad. Given his current drawing power, Johnny is likely to be a very busy lad.
It’s also patently clear, and being broadcast loudly that conservatism in the Howardian mould is entrenched in the non-Labor side of politics. One only need note the who’s who of speakers, and what they had to say at last night’s back patting shindig for Liberal Party faithful in Sydney, to understand that bald fact.
I’d suggest that Brendan Nelson is going to run out of speech material pretty quickly if he’s going to make ‘hail-fellow-well-met’ laudatory pronouncements at state party dinners on a rotating basis. He’d be well advised to better choose his words, as well.
"John Howard’s investment in our nation and in liberal values and liberal beliefs over all of his adult life has not only reshaped Australia, it played a significant role in reshaping our party and reinforcing and forging our fundamental values," Dr Nelson said. "I also believe that John Howard actually reshaped and repositioned the Australian Labor Party."
Oh dear, oh dear, Brendan. Howard certainly did re-shape and forge your current set of values. His doing so lost you government, didn’t it. As for re-shaping and re-positioning the Labor Party, yes indeed, I believe he did. He showed the Australian people just what a stubborn, egotistical power-monger he really is, opening the way for a more progressive and socially aware Labor. What hubris does to a political party and how failure to understand what a real social democracy is, wants and needs. Also how failure to recognise a need for flexibility can consign a political party to the wilderness.
Yes, rage against opposition, Brendan, but for the sake of all that real liberalism holds dear, look to change. Staring back down that dark tunnel of the Howard years isn’t likely to enthuse an electorate which is wise to the ways of hard right conservatism, driven by complete ignorance of the real world, where real people live real lives.