Those of you who take a passing interest in Victorian politics would no doubt be aware of the controversies about allegations of branch stacking and other unethical conduct in the Labor Party. The silence from the Liberals on these matters has been deafening, and after reading this book, you'll understand why. To borrow an analogy from the Sermon on the Mount, this is a matter of specks and logs. John Hyde Page was a member of the New South Wales Young Liberals for seven years, and has written about his experiences in The Education of a Young Liberal. What Page lacked in political convictions was made up for in his ambition to be New South Wales Young Liberal President, often a stepping stone to a Parliamentary career. Page aligned himself with the moderate faction of the Young Liberals, which was attempting to prevent his right wing opponents gaining control of the movement. Page eventually lost control of his faction and his local party branch.
I was struck by the author's candour, and other items of interest were the chapters on the murky world of campus politics, and another detailing now federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's alleged use of branch stacking tactics and legal manoeuvring in his campaign to win preselection for the affluent inner Sydney electorate of Wentworth. With this sort of thing going on, Pages thinks that it's little wonder that people who want to get into politics to contribute to the betterment of society are put off by the factional squabbles, smear campaigns, and dirty tricks he both witnessed and reluctantly participated in. Not a pleasant read, but certainly an eye-opening one.