Dear Jymbo, I am a sad and disgruntled Liberal party member of parliament in Canberra. I thought I was being elected to promote right-of-centre and conservative policies but instead I find myself as part of a political party that raids voters’ hard-earned superannuation, that signs up to Labor policies such as Gonski, Finkel, the NBN, the RET and a good deal more while also itself creating Labor-lite policies such as the bizarre NEG and the ridiculously wasteful Snowy 2.0. As if that weren’t bad enough, my party has increased the debt more than Labor did. We completely caved in on the fight for free speech and now won’t even talk about repeal of s.18C. We appoint former Greens Party people to work in the Prime Minister’s Department. Meanwhile my PM appoints people to run the ABC who don’t think the national broadcaster has a bias problem against right-of-centre views while appointing more of the same types to run the egregious Human Rights Commission instead of shutting the whole awful thing down, as I thought we should. We do nothing at all about the monolithically left-wing universities. Oh, and we’re presiding over massive immigration to this country and it is with us in power that electricity prices are now just about the highest in the democratic world – all because of some sort of lefty virtue- signalling impulse that will not make any difference at all and that few of our core voters share. And when you ask what difference these impoverishing policies will have on the world’s temperature in the year 2100 – what the world’s temperature would otherwise have been if we had opted to follow the US and Trump example and pulled out of the Paris Agreement – there is this embarrassed silence in the party room because it turns out the difference amounts to zero point zero something or other of a degree. It’s less than a rounding error. Less than the margin of error. Zip. Zero. Nada. It’s all being done in the service of virtue-signalling by the PM and his acolytes or some bonkers belief that Australia can be a moral beacon lighting other countries towards economic impoverishment. I feel so sad and confused, Jymbo. What should I do?
Dear Sad in Canberra, You might consider growing a pair of cojones and anything that approximates a backbone and then attempt to do something about the mess you and the other current Liberal MPs are making of a once great political party. Outsiders like me could be forgiven for thinking most of your party room are just in politics for the salaries, chauffeurs, limousines and superannuation on steroids – or with a bit of luck maybe a High Commissioner posting before the downfall. And how did so many faux conservative, Labor-lite progressives ever become Liberal MPs? Remember, you are in parliament to achieve right-of-centre policies and outcomes, or to go down fighting in the attempt to achieve them. I see precious little evidence of any of that, or of any ticker on anything at all. So you might start by trying to remove your leader, the most left-leaning leader of the Australian Liberal party ever. He’s a disaster. Even if you fail the first time you will have failed on principle. And maybe it is time to take off the white gloves. Mr Turnbull and the Black Hand coterie around him leaked against and white-anted his predecessor Tony Abbott without shame. You supposed conservatives in the present party room are acting as perfect gentlemen and ladies and not dishing back to them what they served to you. What mugs you are! Worse, and as most of you with a brain must by now realise, you are on a path to an electoral drubbing under this Team Turnbull arrangement. You deserve to be sad and despondent. Do something, anything, that shows you are not a troupe of lemmings marching towards the cliff face. Until you do, don’t write to me again. You’re pathetic.
Yours in frustration, Jymbo
Dear Jymbo, I too am a Liberal MP in Canberra who is on the right wing of the party room. I’m even in Cabinet. I was not one of the 54 defenestrators who removed Abbott and caused this split in the party – we are losing the base; our donations are way down; we struggle now to get volunteers and it could be brutal at a general election when we can’t ship young paid interns around to staff the voting booths. When I go back to my electorate, I am deluged with angry old-time Liberal voters who are seething mad at us. They used to half nod when I trotted out the Team Turnbull talking point ‘But we’re still better than Shorten’. Now they say they’re not so sure, and anyway they’re not voting for us. They won’t even preference us ahead of Labor. But it’s not as easy as you think to do anything about this. The Prime Minister’s Office keeps a close eye on all conservatives and is prepared to throw any of us under a bus, and certainly will leak against and undermine us with gusto at the first sign of veering from the Team Turnbull script. Plus we worry that another political knifing will finish us off. Can we really survive yet another change in leader? I’m paralysed with indecision. I now know how Hamlet felt. Please advise me, Jymbo.
Dear Hamlet on Lake Burley Griffin, You’re even more pathetic than your fellow backbencher letter writer. Did you not see what happened in New Zealand? The Labour party over there changed leaders fewer than two months before the general election. And won. If you’re driving towards a cliff the best thing to do is change the driver and get someone who will steer you somewhere else. Step down from Cabinet on principle and go to the backbench. We longtime Liberal voters will remember that someone actually acted on principle: otherwise you doth protest too much. Frailty, thy name is a Conservative in the Team Turnbull Cabinet! Remember, one or two Cabinet resignations might well finish Mr Turnbull off. So hoist him with his own petard. Jymbo suggests a good time to resign on principle is over this half-baked and useless National Energy Guarantee plan. Resign Hamlet, resign. There are more things in heaven and earth than your chauffeur-driven car.
Yours in despair,