Today The Age published an article by
Henrietta Cook and Farrah Tomazin about inappropriate communications by members of the Liberal party – in this case by the treasurer, vice-president and other members of the University of Melbourne chapter of the Young Liberals.
In a series of screenshots of Facebook messages leaked to Fairfax Media, the Melbourne University Liberal Club members attack feminist and alumni Germaine Greer, take aim at homosexuality, and repeatedly demean women.
Club treasurer Stefan Eracleous describes Ms Greer as a ”lying f—ing c-m guzzling slut … and a union member”.
‘She doesn’t believe in God. No kids not married … what do you [e]xpect from a melb uni educated former socialist c—,” he wrote.
Before proceeding I do feel the need to note that ‘union member’ is clearly intended to be as much of an insult and indication of character as the rest of it, an attitude I’ve seen from the Right on Twitter, too.
As Cook and Tomazin note, this is only the latest in a series of comments that indicate sexist, homophobic and racist attitudes which have already reulted in political deaths for a number of current and aspirant Liberal politicians.
The problem for the Liberal party isn’t that
Social media is a very, very tricky game for people who haven’t been trained in media and communications
or that they haven’t been reined in.
The problem is that Young Libs say in public what their elders say behind closed doors, and that (as we’ve seen from the recent withdrawal of two Liberal candidates becasue of embarrassing, racist and sexist electronic communications) these attitudes are endemic through the party.
There are members who are reasonable, who respect diversity, who are interested in politics because they want to make the world a better place, and – even though we differ on how best to do that – I know, and respect, some of them.
But the members who achieve positions of power, both in Young Libs and in the party proper are, all too often, these kinds of immature, ultra-Right Wing, xenophobic, homophobic mysogynists.
I am progressive, and I find many of the policies of the Labor party more conservative than I’m comfortable with, let alone the neo-conservative positions being taken by today’s Liberal party and their companions in the UK, the US, Canada and Europe. I do not, however, want to see the Liberal party destroyed – we need balance, social justice tempered by fiscal reality, humane capitalism rther than an unsustainable sociality utopia.
Traditional Liberal values that place the privileged, wealthy, privately educated white male in a state of primacy are going to have to change if this party wants to have any relevance, Or retain any degree of power. And that attitude change has to come from the top.