Wednesday, 25 March 2009
As regular readers of this blog will know, The Piping Shrike is dedicated to the mission of providing clarity to the Australian political scene and the best way to do that is for Costello to lead the Liberal party to a thumping defeat.
The Liberal party is being driven with one eye on the road in front and one on the rear view mirror – and it is getting increasingly confused which is which. Costello behind the wheel would put all eyes firmly on the rear view mirror with the expected result.
Turnbull’s current dilemma within his own party is being under-estimated. Bernard Keane from Crikey has some sound advice for Turnbull on how to take on Rudd, but misses an important factor. Keane thinks Turnbull should emulate Rudd when he became opposition leader at the end of 2006. But Turnbull can’t because he is not leading the same party that Rudd was then. Rudd’s strategy of closely following Howard on most issues and only opposing on the ones he wanted, is a luxury Turnbull cannot afford. Rudd could only take Labor through all the twists and turns of dealing with Howard because the ideological battles in the party had effectively died, leaving it the technocratic shell it is today. As Australia’s last political party, the Liberals are not likely to go to sleep as quietly.
A classic example of this was the debate, or more accurately, non-debate, about the government’s Fair Work Bill. Dennis Shanahan had some good observations about the way Gillard managed to make a minor difference between the government and the Liberals over the number of employees in firms coming under unfair dismissal laws, into a major ideological difference. It enabled Gillard to revive the spectre of Workchoices as the threat to job security at a time when people most needed it. Of course anyone familiar with the industrial scene over the last two decades would know job insecurity came not from Workchoices, which had a minor impact on the IR scene, but the death of collective bargaining under the last Labor government. Nevertheless, at a time when Labor has about as much practical solace to give to those worried about their jobs as it did for those at Pacific Brands, the Liberals’ clumsy tactics made the issue all about them instead.
Yet Shanahan forgets to mention why Turnbull was forced to do so. Namely, because that political maestro Costello decided to make it an issue within the party by making a mountain over an equally minor difference between him and Turnbull. Costello knows full well that if he wants to undermine Turnbull’s strategy to change the Liberals it is easy, simply raise the question of core values. With Turnbull unable to convincingly say what they should be in the future, Costello can simply hark back to how it was in the past.
The mythical past. Because in reviving the Howard legacy, Costello has to ignore how Howard began stripping it away like the Dance of the Seven Veils in the dying months of his government. If Workchoices is so necessary for jobs, as Shanahan claimed Howard believed, why did he abandon it near the end? The answer is easy, because it was pointless keeping something that was both unpopular and for which the Liberals’ business backers had little need for. That’s another reason why this blog wants to see Costello take on the leadership. Not just to reveal the state of right-wing politics now, but do another re-run of The Howard Years, this time with the deleted scenes put back in.
Posted by The Piping Shrike on Wednesday, 25 March 2009.Filed under Media analysis