Political parties wishing to win majority support in the pursuit of gaining control of government cannot afford to be tied too closely to a rigid ideology or set of views. They must accommodate a range of viewpoints and approaches to matters of public policy, even as they decide which policy to pursue.
In the case of the Liberal Party, former Prime Minister John Howard summed up this reality of political life with his description of the party as a “broad church” that married the conservative tradition exemplified by the Irish writer Edmund Burke with the liberalism of John Stuart Mill.
This formulation was vague enough to encompass a range of political positions, even if they were at odds with one another. The “broad church” ideal had a simple goal – ensure that all Liberals were inside the tent and shared a common outlook.
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