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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.
So far our definition is meaningless in that we have not defined liberal ideas; that which will give real meaning to the concept of Liberal England.
Unfortunately the meaning of words can change and ideas can change, and being a liberal (holding liberal ideas) today does not mean you support the same things as a liberal of the mid-nineteenth century.
Fraser almost resigned from the party during the Tampa crisis of 2001 and the adoption by Howard of off-shore processing of asylum-seeking boat people.
When the conservative Abbott attained the leadership, Fraser took it as the final confirmation that the party would not return to what he saw as true liberalism in his lifetime.
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’.Its compelling strength rested greatly on the fact that it worked so well.Unfettered competitive private enterprise had made Britain the workshop of the world, yet the faltering of this system with the first Great Depression of the early 1870s to the mid 1890s (or at the least the appearance of faltering) called classical liberalism into question.Fraser had been a critic of the party's adoption of economic rationalism in the 1990s.He sought the federal presidency of the Liberal Party in the mid-1990s but withdrew when it became clear he could not win.A major point of strain came when the leader of the right-wing group One Nation, Pauline Hanson, delivered her maiden speech in Parliament which was widely viewed as racist and xenophobic, and Prime Minister John Howard failed to condemn her.In 1997, Fraser wrote to the party president, Tony Staley, urging him to use all his influence to prevent the Liberal Party from directing preferences to One Nation ahead of the Labor Party. Over the next three years, Fraser criticised Howard's refusal to apologise to the stolen generations of Aboriginal children taken from their parents.Liberalism was the creed of the middle-classes, and as such was most swiftly adopted in England where the Industrial revolution and the consequent sharp growth of the middle class power and numbers were first felt. Taylor goes as far as to suggest that ‘Old-fashioned [classical] British liberalism really ended in 1874’, and even though this may be slightly exaggerated, classical liberalism was certainly gone by the close of the nineteenth century.Thus though liberalism was the intellectual creation of the Enlightenment -particularly of English writers and philosophers such as Hobbes, Smith, Bentham, Paine, the Mills (father and son), Ricardo- the growth of its support, (the growth of a Classical Liberal England) was due to economic and concomitant social changes beginning in the late 18th century. The origins of classical economic theory which was a major pillar of classical liberalism is Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations published in 1776.By Liberal England we mean the widespread support for a set of ideas deemed liberal.Importantly, though support for the Liberal party usually meant the support of Liberal ideas, the converse is not necessarily true, since those who support a party other that the Liberals may still hold liberal ideas.