Watching Costello handle the leadership question on Q&A was a reminder of the step change that has happened to Turnbull’s control of the party since the week Bishop was sacked. Costello didn’t even bother making a show of supporting Turnbull. Reports seem to suggest that there is an almost casual acceptance in the party that Turnbull’s tenure now has limited shelf-life. It is a view summed up by Abbott who, after the interview where he called the Labor leader a toxic bore, had equally unflattering things to say about his own leader and the new manager of opposition business in front of a government MP. Abbott, of course, had a particular axe to grind because Turnbull had the nerve to want to put someone in that position who actually agreed with his policy.

Something that could not be claimed for Abbott. On Lateline last Friday, Abbott pretty well ignored his leader’s position on climate change as have most others in the party. Turnbull has posed his latest climate change policy as ‘more Green’ than Labor’s, while the rest of the party has generally been too polite to notice.

Yet while the events of two weeks ago have probably dealt a mortal blow to Turnbull’s grip on the party it also had a salutary lesson for those wanting to get rid of him. It showed that the lack of direction is starting to dissolve any clear political lines in the party and open up the threat of fragmentation. As usual, the consequences of this political vacuum are best summed up by the pretensions of Costello. The media portrays him as deeply hostile to Turnbull, especially after Bishop’s sacking, but can anyone think of a single policy difference between them? The ‘chasm’ between these two political supremos neatly summed up by the ease with which Pyne has flitted between both. With Turnbull’s leadership having loss credibility, a leadership only possible because the old guard lost control in the first place, we have a vacuum in which even bubbles like Costello and Hockey can bob up to the surface.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Saturday, 7 March 2009.

Filed under Political figures

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9 responses to “The slow toppling of Turnbull – another update”

  1. Paul on 7th March 2009 12:12 pm

    It would be great if you could do an analysis of the likely Senate voting patterns on the major legislation pieces due in the next few months (ie, Work Choices, the ETS, Campaign Contributions, Alcopops, etc)



  2. Spam Box on 7th March 2009 8:25 pm

    even bubbles like Costello and Hockey can bob up to the surface.

    Line of the month – that’s brilliant

  3. Ad astra on 8th March 2009 11:51 am

    Andrew Bolt’s prediction on ABC TV’s Insiders this morning is that Costello will replace Turnbull a year before the next election and make the Rudd Government a ‘oncer’. So he’s confidently forecasting the Costello bubble ‘will bob up to the surface’, and it won’t burst. How could we mere mortals disagree?

  4. The Piping Shrike on 8th March 2009 5:26 pm

    Bless. Maybe his eerie prescience from eighteen months ago will come to pass.

  5. Graeme on 9th March 2009 1:53 pm

    But can bubbles float through a vacuum?

  6. The Piping Shrike on 9th March 2009 5:29 pm

    Given Hockey’s rise, it would appear so.

  7. DM on 10th March 2009 11:36 pm

    Costello won’t lead the LP into the next election simply because he knows that their chances of winning at the next election are very slim. In other words, he doesn’t want to blow his ambition of becoming the PM right at the first go. Rudd is almost guranteed another term, because we rarely ever churn out a one term government. If Costello were to lead the LP to this almost guranteed loss, he would most certainly not get anotehr chance at leading the party. Knowing all this, I think it is fair to say that Costello is ‘playing it safe’.

  8. James on 11th March 2009 10:21 am

    It seems as if Costello is doing his best to ensure a Liberal defeat with Turnbull at the helm at the next Federal election. He is probably hoping for an early poll to speed the whole thing up for him to take the leadership during a second Rudd term. Meanwhile, there seems to be a solid base of die-hard conservatives in the Federal Opposition who regard their 2007 defeat as an abberation and who are steadfastly sticking to the Howard legacy as their future because they don’t have much new to say. The fact that Labor won a swag of seats in 2007 with wafer thin margins probably helps to reinforce their abberation view and gives them hope that it wouldn’t take much of a swing from the 2007 result to return them to power. However, I think such views risk them going backwards at the next federal poll. Remember, they have some wager thin margins too. Historically, significantly early polls in Australian Federal polls are risky for new governments (remember Hawke in 84). However, it may be a risk worth taking for Rudd, as the Senate numbers are causing him headaches and an early poll at the height of his popularity might ensure that he gets a Senate result that means its easier to pass legislation. One would have to assume that Fielding and a couple of Libs or Nats would lose.

  9. Just Me on 15th March 2009 11:17 pm

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