Tag Archives: john howard

Back from the Brink: the extraordinary fall and rise of the Conservative Party

Peter Snowdon’s history of the Conservative Party in opposition, quickly updated last year to include the final stage in their recovery, has four white men on its cover striding towards the reader – Cameron, Osborne, Hague and Clegg. It tells you immediately the sort of book that Back from the Brink: The extraordinary fall and rise of the Conservative Party is: tightly focused in on politics as seen from and carried out in Westminster.

This is an account of senior political figures and their political, policy and media manoeuvrings. The public feature very rarely (unlike in Deborah Mattinson’s memoirs from

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How to defeat a long-serving government: lessons from Australia

Cross-posted from The Wardman Wire:

Politics doesn’t just happen in the US

Australian politics should be a fertile learning ground for those interested in British politics. Whilst it does not have the West Wing glamorous scale of US politics, it shares the US advantage of a common language – which makes access to political information much easier than for other countries. Moreover, unlike the USA, it has the mundane – but vital – importance of having a political system that in core elements is the same as Britain (two houses of Parliament, leader of the largest party in the lower house gets to be Prime Minister, no elected person more senior than the Prime Minister).

Both Australia and the US have had a long period of right-wing political dominance (Liberals and Republicans respectively), during which time the right seemed to have largely shifted the terms of political debate, come to dominate the vocabulary of issues and seen off an opposition that was often split between those who urged moderation and the centre ground as the sensible response to defeat and those who saw that very moderation as timidity and the cause of repeated defeat.

In both cases, the right finally lost – John McCain in 2008, Australian PM John Howard in 2007. But whilst lessons from the previous Democrat defeats and then Obama’s victory in 2008 have been commonly discussed in the UK, Australian politics does not get much of a look-in, although former Labour Cabinet Minister Alan Milburn was a key advisor during the 2007 Australian election. What are we missing by failing to look more often to Australia?

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