He initially kept his resignation private, but the news leaked out shortly after the publication of his memoirs in early 2010.The title of this essay is a reference to the book by George Dangerfield, published in 1935.
Fraser resigned from the Liberal Party shortly after Tony Abbott came to the leadership in late 2009.
It was the end result of a gradual process of alienation from the party he had led, chiefly over issues to do with attitudes to asylum seekers and Aboriginal affairs.
In that book, ‘The Strange Death of Liberal England’, Dangerfield’s thesis was ‘that between the death of Edward and the War there was a considerable hiatus in English history’ and that ‘it was in 1910 that fires long smouldering in the English spirit flared up, so that by the end of 1913 Liberal England was reduced to ashes.’ But what exactly is this concept of Liberal England?
Although much of the book is spent discussing the Liberal party and parliamentary politics, clearly Dangerfield does not mean that the Liberal Party died in this period.
Dangerfield admits this: ‘All the violence of the pre-war world has vanished [because of rose tinted nostalgia amplified by the horrors of the war], and in its place there glow … I am setting out to explain which Liberal England died and to what extent it died.
But first we must give a reasonable meaning to the concept of ‘Liberal England’.
After 1846 (until the mid 1870s) liberal ideas became basic principles accepted across party division and across the country.
This liberalism, supported by the hard fact that it worked (British economic supremacy was unquestionable as witnessed by the Great Exhibition of 1851), and seemingly unassailable was to not last more than a lifetime, undermined by the very ideas which had made it so undeniably right, and its demise was to be quick.
Thus we can see that liberal ideas (liberalism) have changed and evolved.
The original set of liberal ideas, or liberalism, were the creation of the dual revolutions which occured at the end of the 18th century: the Industrial revolution and the intellectual revolution known as the Enlightenment.