Home > Oz Politics > The Liberal brand

The Liberal brand

March 16th, 2008

The Liberal party finally has something to celebrate, with their most senior elected official, Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman winning re-election easily and the Liberals getting a majority on the City Council for the first time in many years. But despite this story in the Oz, the news is not all good for the Liberal brand.

* Newman’s success was largely a reflection of his personal popularity. A good point for the Libs is that this popularity is largely due to his promise to fix traffic congestion through road and tunnel projects, an issue the Liberals probably have an advantage on in general. A less good point is that it remains to be seen if the plans will work – this approach hasn’t been hugely successful elsewhere

* In Townsville, Labor copped a hiding but the conservative candidate Les Tyrell didn’t run under the Liberal label

* In the Gold Coast mayoral election, the Liberal Party spent a fortune but their candidate finished third with 26 per cent of the vote. There’s an outside chance that he could get up thanks to the vagaries of preferences but it looks pretty unlikely. Joe Hockey calls this a “great result” but if so, I’d hate to see a bad one.

All of this is relevant to the issue of whether the Liberals and Nationals should merge under a new name. I suggested the day after the election that this was inevitable, and copped some flak for it, but the idea of a merger is certainly alive now.

The remaining objection to a merger with a new name is that it would lose the value attached to the Liberal “brand”. My reading of the council election results is that this value is either zero or negative. Popular conservative candidates can win without the Liberal name. On the other hand, even in natural Liberal territory like the Gold Coast, the party label alone can barely attract a quarter of the votes even with a big advertising push.

Given general agreement that the obvious choices of NatLib and LibNat are uninspiring at best, I’ll throw it open to readers to suggest a new name for the merged party. The winning entry as judged by me will be announced in a later post.

Categories: Oz Politics Tags:
  1. Basalisk
    March 16th, 2008 at 14:40 | #1

    * The Fluffy Kitten and Puppy Party
    * The Other Party
    * The Libationals

  2. Ikonoclast
    March 16th, 2008 at 14:46 | #2

    I live just outside the Brisbane City boundary so I did not get to cast a vote against Campbell Newman. Darn it.

    Tunnel Vision Newman is a disaster for Brisbane. he is digging tunnels for more cars when we have already passed peak oil. What a wombat. Oh well, maybe the tunnels can be converted to railways one day so they can still have a use.

  3. jquiggin
    March 16th, 2008 at 15:21 | #3

    The Libationals is the winner so far!

  4. Muskiemp
    March 16th, 2008 at 15:36 | #4

    The United Australia Party (LOL)

  5. Ian Gould
    March 16th, 2008 at 15:45 | #5

    I have to agree with Ikonoclast – public transport has been a bloody disgrace since Newman took over.

  6. March 16th, 2008 at 16:12 | #6


  7. nick
    March 16th, 2008 at 16:20 | #7

    The Notionals

  8. LuxuryYacht
    March 16th, 2008 at 16:39 | #8

    Until John Howard came along, the term “conservative” was not in the Australian political vocabulary. It annoys me, as someone who is aligned the closest with the left wing of the Liberal Party (“liberals”, or “moderates”) that talk of a new party is always being couched in terms of it being a “conservative” party. If this happens, it seems like I’m going to be voting informal for the rest of my life!

  9. March 16th, 2008 at 16:50 | #9

    John’s Party.

  10. cb
    March 16th, 2008 at 16:52 | #10

    How about the “Right-Wing-Arseholes-(what-happened-to-the-small-l-liberals-anyway?) Party”

  11. Salient Green
    March 16th, 2008 at 17:15 | #11

    The Australian Browns.
    The Cornucopians.

  12. Alastair
    March 16th, 2008 at 17:44 | #12

    The Conservative Party.

    Personally I think that the Liberals and Nationals should split not merge and the Nationals should start acting on behalf of their consituents and party principles rather than being yes people to the Liberal Party.

  13. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    March 16th, 2008 at 17:58 | #13

    The fishnet party.

  14. Dylwah
    March 16th, 2008 at 18:02 | #14

    The Alliance Party works on two obvious levels. not sure if literature references are a plus or a minus.

    Should the current slide continue, The Nanoparty could work.

    I don’t think they will go for The Feral Arthritic Wombats and Coal Utility party, tho the acromym comes close to summing them up well.

  15. Gerry
    March 16th, 2008 at 19:17 | #15

    serious names:
    – Australian Conservative Party (ACP)
    – Liberal-Country Party (LCP)
    – Australian People’s Party (APP)
    – Free Trade Party (FTP)

    not so serious names:
    – National Liberal Australian Workers’ Party (NLAWP)
    – Liberal Agrarian Alliance (LAA)
    – Liberal-National Front (LNF)
    – National Christian Liberal Party (NCLP)
    – Liberal National Conservative Party (LNCP)
    – Rally for the Monarchy (RM)
    – Rally for the Republic (RR)
    – Rally for Jesus (RJ)
    – People’s Front of Australia (PFA)
    – Australian People’s Front (APF)
    – State Law and Order Coalition (SLORC)
    – One Nation (ON)
    – Working Nation (WN)
    – Free Trade Party (FTP)
    – Free People’s Party (FPP)
    – Freedom Party (FP)
    – Australian National Interest Party (ANIP)
    – Free Competition Party (CP)

  16. Dominic
    March 16th, 2008 at 20:28 | #16

    I’d like to see the liberals split – real liberals can join the Republicans keeping the name, Liberal Party, the religous nuts can join family first and the rest can join one nation.

  17. March 16th, 2008 at 20:31 | #17

    Farmer Last Party.

  18. March 16th, 2008 at 21:03 | #18

    * The National Liberal Party.
    * The Liberal Party.

    In branding terms I think the last of these two would be the best option. The Nationals are in decline because their brand of politics appeals to less and less people. So ditching their brand whilst pooling resources would seem like the best option.

  19. March 16th, 2008 at 21:04 | #19

    Dominic – why would real liberals have any natural affinity with republicans?

  20. swio
    March 16th, 2008 at 21:07 | #20

    The Tories.

  21. Alastair
    March 16th, 2008 at 21:12 | #21

    Screw the Unions Party

  22. LuxuryYacht
    March 16th, 2008 at 21:22 | #22

    How about The Australian Women’s National League? No wait, that’s what they used to be called.

    Or the Country Women’s Association?

    I must admit, I agree with Dominic on this. When he says “republicans” I think he means the ARM, not the extremists in the US.

  23. March 16th, 2008 at 21:31 | #23

    Why would real liberals have any natual affinity with the ARM?

  24. March 16th, 2008 at 21:38 | #24

    I think the Liberals should look hard at the value of the coalition with the Nationals.

    They may have at least two terms out of office – maybe ditch the Nationals and try to come up with a Liberal Party which is true to the values of conservatism and liberalism but which is also more economically rationalist and generally more rational.

  25. Jill Rush
    March 16th, 2008 at 21:46 | #25

    The Irrationals.

  26. March 16th, 2008 at 22:43 | #26

    which is true to the values of conservatism and liberalism

    Given the ascendance of big government it is not really possible to be both conservative and liberal. Liberals want a smaller role for government, conservatives by definition want to protect the status quo.

  27. wmmbb
    March 17th, 2008 at 00:06 | #27

    The Ruling Class.

  28. jbq
    March 17th, 2008 at 05:39 | #28

    The Naturals

  29. March 17th, 2008 at 06:21 | #29

    forza ozzia!

    then everyone knows yer innit for the money, and/or to stay out of jail.

  30. March 17th, 2008 at 06:49 | #30

    Terje, I am suggesting a mix of social conservatism and economic liberalism.

  31. Salient Green
    March 17th, 2008 at 08:06 | #31

    The Nationals are in decline for the same reason the Liberals are, because they are all about giving more power to the big end of town – supermarkets, banks, oil, mining, agribusiness – and protecting big exporters with Free Trade policy, at the expense of the rest.
    People are beginning to see through it all, and are becoming fair sick of ‘Liberal market economics’ and rationalise, privatise, globalise everything because ‘it will increase our wealth’.
    Most farmers are too pig-headed to see it but the Greens policies are far more favourable for those that largely produce for the domestic market so the Nationals and the Libs should join and fade away together.

  32. March 17th, 2008 at 09:12 | #32

    The Conberals.

  33. Darryl Rosin
    March 17th, 2008 at 10:34 | #33

    “The Other Party”, or “None Of The Above”.


  34. March 17th, 2008 at 12:38 | #34

    First Preferences


    Two Party Prefered

  35. March 17th, 2008 at 13:27 | #35

    “The Opposition”

  36. March 17th, 2008 at 13:28 | #36

    Or Harold Gribble’s “Progressive Conservative Party” which is a vehicle for his pro-development agenda. Everything I know about Australian life I learned by watching “‘Round the Twist”.

  37. jack strocchi
    March 17th, 2008 at 16:14 | #37

    Its almost four years since I suggested that “Liberal Nationalism” was a better description of Howard’s party practice, if not theory. This followed his magnificent defence of the national principle in 2001.

    Liberal nationalism was more or less the ideology of the founding fathers. And it became the default ideology of the non-ALP parties. (The ALP was and, to the extent it is union-bonded, has to remain a socialist nationalist party.)

    Nationalism is really the only post-Enlightenment ideology with any legs. (It is simply the institutional embodiment of the communitarian ideological principle.) It has its faults but it has the merit of being the only ideology commanding the loyalties of an integrated people living in an extended area over a prolonged era.

  38. jack strocchi
    March 17th, 2008 at 16:35 | #38

    PS I disagree with Pr Q’s “Liberals are doomed” premise, which has a distinctly partisan or at least ideological smell.

    I do not think the Liberal party is on its last legs, although the Nationals look a bit shaky. And, going by recent political agitations, any advice on Right wing organizational tactics coming from the Broad Left should be treated with extreme skepticism.

    The lead up to the last election saw the Broad Left and ambitious Liberal party careerists in full court-press against Howard. THe attempt to oust an elected PM holding lawful office was blatantly biased and offensive to citizens who had voted for him. But never mind them, the elites want to hold the whip hand.

    One year out I predicted that the oust-Howard movement would fail and this prediction proved correct. Howard was the best thing going for the Liberals, whose base adores him.

    The election turned out to be a non-landslide – which I also predicted. This refutes the major premise of Pr Q’s argument which is that the federal Liberal party is in secular decline.

    The Broad Left then went attempted to banish the Culture War with a silly attempt to idenitify one party’s political fortunes with the perennial debate on the relationship b/w special nature and social structure. This is a post-modernist wishful thingking, trying to sweep unpleasant socio-biological facts under the carpet by ideological fiat.

    But reality has a way of showing up delusion and illusion. Cultural conflict as strong ever in parts of Melbourne and now in outback and suburban schools and will only get worse with attempts to politically correct it.

    Mostly this new found concern with right wing party organization is an attempt to marginalise and deinstitutionalise the conservative nationalist core of the Liberal party. But this is the most popular part of the Right wing, which implies an undemocratic agenda on the Left.

    When the ALP was down many Right wingers hopped onto the bandwagon and attempted to play the “ALP is doomed” tune. Likewise many Left wingers are trying the same thing on now that the LN/P are down.

    The worm always turns.

  39. 2 tanners
    March 17th, 2008 at 19:40 | #39

    If it hadn’t already been used (like many suggestions) I reckon they could do worse than The Australia Party, with a rural wing known as the Country Australia party. A joint party has some surface attraction and has worked, like SA’s Liberal Country League of days gone by.

    I don’t think this merger is going to happen anytime soon, though.

    I think the Liberal brand is fine and healthy, whereas the National brand is really suffering. I see no need for the Libs, if long sighted, to do anything except wait for the time when a friendly takeover becomes possible. Descriptions of the Nationals as a ‘rump’ are a little in advance of reality in my view, but equally I think the time is coming that we are going to really be faced with a two party system in name as well as reality.

    Greens, rural splinter groups and special interest groups will have their day, then fall back.

    Oh, and the lotto numbers for next Saturday are…

  40. melanie
    March 17th, 2008 at 22:48 | #40

    I can’t help but agree that the Libationals is a top name, but FWIW here are some further suggestions:
    The Free Trade Protectionist Party
    The Desperate Party
    Australian Lawyers and Farmers (ALFs)
    Miners and Other Diggers Party (MODs)
    I like Al’s Forza Ozzia (although they could also go for Forza Australia Bianca (FAB)
    Little Aussie Battlers (LAB) might win some votes due to confusion.
    America First Party (AFP) (oops!)
    Culture Warriors of Australia (CWA)

  41. Gavrilo
    March 18th, 2008 at 08:50 | #41

    Have to go with Re-arm Australia Party.

  42. Gerry
    March 18th, 2008 at 10:47 | #42

    Jack many of your assertions are not accurate.

    Nationalism is not the only post-Enlightenment philosophy with any legs; this is wishful thinking. Leaving aside internationalist movements of the 20thC, which may or may not have been doomed to failure, supranationalism is far from destroyed by the likes of Bush and Howard, and its stronghold remains the EU and to a lesser extent the UN. The EU and UN would not raise such strong reactions among particularist rightwingers if they weren’t peceived as dangerous supranationalist threats.

    Describing the ALP as a nationalist socialist party is ludicrously reductionist and paraded merely to flatter your own prejudices. The ALP has a strong internationalist stream, as well as nationalist tendencies.

    the notion of leftwing ‘elites’ only held water while Howard held a majority; if the ALP holds government in all jurisdictions it must be conceded that popular sentiment supports the ‘broad left’ agenda (as you call it) and any attempt to spin this otherwise is self evidently an unmandated and by definition ‘elitist’ reaction.

    The only actor sweeping unpleasant facts under the carpet was the conservatives; denial of the deliberate extinguishment of Aboriginal people as part of the process of settlement has been roundly confirmed by masses of evidence brought forth since Windshuttle’s polemical, politically convenient book. But regardless the Howard line that all violence perpetrated in Australia in the past can be dismissed as fictional is now simply repeated as robot-like mantra by Australian rightwingers as a totemic item of faith.

    Why shouldn’t the present ALP ascendancy attempt to marginalise and de-institutionalise the conservative nationalist core of the Liberal Party. After all, Howard spent the last 11 years doing just that to the ALP, the unions and the Greens, using his institutional power as PM in a manner that you label ‘undemocratic’ now that you sort is on the receiving end. Tough.

  43. Alphonse
    March 18th, 2008 at 13:14 | #43

    Australian Remora Party

  44. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    March 18th, 2008 at 16:10 | #44

    The White Australia Party

  45. The Doctor
    March 18th, 2008 at 16:50 | #45

    Maybe they’ll want to recap Menzies and call themselves the The Fusion Liberal Party.

  46. John Greenfield
    March 18th, 2008 at 18:17 | #46

    How much better off Australia would be if The Luvvies joined The Greens, leaving the LABOR Party to its true owners.

  47. jquiggin
    March 18th, 2008 at 18:28 | #47

    Oh dear, JG. Can’t you just forget about the Luvvies now? It was fun while it lasted, but it’s over, really it is.

  48. John Greenfield
    March 18th, 2008 at 18:32 | #48


    Really? When was their resignation letter published?

  49. melanie
    March 18th, 2008 at 22:50 | #49

    The Illiberals.

  50. Alastair
    March 20th, 2008 at 11:12 | #50

    The Bosses Choices Party
    The Denigrate the Unions Party

  51. zebbidies spring
    March 21st, 2008 at 20:28 | #51

    The Libia Majora?
    The Grand Nationals?
    The Supremes?

  52. March 24th, 2008 at 06:07 | #52

    Conservative Party
    United Australia
    Australian Peoples Party
    New Liberals
    New Australa
    Party Party Party Party

  53. Black Mage
    March 24th, 2008 at 09:20 | #53

    “The lead up to the last election saw the Broad Left and ambitious Liberal party careerists in full court-press against Howard. THe attempt to oust an elected PM holding lawful office was blatantly biased and offensive to citizens who had voted for him.”

    How dare they! How dare the Labor Party run a CANDIDATE! And–in an ELECTION YEAR!

    (Due credit to Jon Stewart…)

  54. Jack Strocchi
    September 7th, 2008 at 09:07 | #54

    The Liberal-National party is the obvious choice. It turns Liberal into the adjective and National into the proper noun.

    This is about right since the Right wing parties electoral strength is in their nationalism, running hard against cosmopolitan elites around the inner-city.

Comments are closed.