A staged implosion – Round 2

Thursday, 8 October 2009 

People talk to me about all sorts of things – I’m not going to lie and pretend something hasn’t happened. I get sounded out about lots of things from time to time and my absolute committed loyalty is to Malcolm and to the leadership. My colleagues speak to me about a lot of things but I’m just not going down the path of engaging in this because this in itself starts bushfires.

Joe Hockey on 3AW

Well goodness, who’d a thunk it? Despite Joe’s best intentions, his sudden burst of frankness has only ended up undermining Turnbull and putting himself in contention. So no doubt producing exactly the result he wanted.

Or did he? Peter Van Onselen summed up the confusion on Lateline last night. On one hand Hockey is an old hand who knew exactly what he was doing when he suggested Liberals were actively looking for an alternative. On the other hand Hockey isn’t supposed to really want the leadership, especially now.

The unwillingness of anyone to come forward at this moment while Labor is so far ahead seems all very tactical, but is pretty well unprecedented. It is based on the assumption that the Liberals have lost the next election no matter what, and it is hard to think of a time when they were ever that pessimistic. Besides, given that the media seem to think it is the uncertainty over the leadership that is the main reason why they are behind in the polls, you would think there would be someone in the party who could think they could turn it around.

Clearly, the Liberals know better. What we are seeing is a resumption of the implosion in the party leadership that started to come to the surface in Howard’s last year, when Howard’s leadership was faltering to the point where even he was unsure he wanted to go on, but unable to be filled by the Politically Astute Former Treasurer, now doing more farewells than Dame Nellie.

After Howard’s departure, that leadership vacuum was concealed by the obliviousness of Turnbull’s ambition, which mobilised the old guard to try and block him off with Nelson before they lost control and let him have his run. The vacuum at the centre of the leadership started to come back on the first attempt to get rid of Turnbull, via the ousting of Bishop from the Treasury portfolio, which led to sniping all round. Now if Turnbull, the only one in the Liberal Party who seems to have actually wanted to lead it over the last few years, ends up going, the vacuum is likely to come back with a vengeance.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Thursday, 8 October 2009.

Filed under State of the parties

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6 responses to “A staged implosion – Round 2”

  1. Perer on 8th October 2009 7:56 am

    Why don’t the Libs just dispense with the idea of having an opposition leader, and just work off of portfolios aligned with responsibility, until the election is due and the most meritorious (read: most popular) shadow minister gets foisted with the leadership automatically?

    It’ll send Labor absolutely insane. They’d be spending every minute talking about the Libs lack of leadership, while the Libs get to talk about policy.

  2. fred on 8th October 2009 11:47 am

    I find Joe a bit confusing.
    Is he a buffoon, as he likes to usually portray himself?
    Or an astute and ambitious back stabber, as the loosely disguised thrust 3AW thrust bears witness?
    Or both?
    I remember his comment in “The Howard Years” when he said that after taking on workNOchoices he was surprised to find out that it actually disadvantaged workers. Yeah sure Joe. So he informed his fellow Cabinet members who were equally surprised. Yeah, sure Joe. In fact they didn’t really believe Joe when he described the negative effects of the legislation.
    So Joe had made a choice. He prefered to portray himself and his Cabinet colleagues as stupid, naive and ignorant rather than deliberately anti-worker.
    Stupid is the lesser evil of a maximum of two choices.
    In making that [presumably carefully premeditated] comment Joe portrayed his colleagues as a paler shade of black with himself as the greyest of the lot.
    White was not on the menu.
    I thought then that ambition and self interest seemed to be the guiding motive and I forsee a conflict between Joe and Abbott in the future.
    Both appear to be waiting for the election loss before they reach for the poisoned chalice. Let Malcolm take the heat until then, or somebody else if Malcolm capitulates.

  3. Ricc on 8th October 2009 3:07 pm

    Could we get a major realignment of parties on the real issues that people actually disagree about? Right to life, religion, immigration etc.

  4. The Piping Shrike on 8th October 2009 3:59 pm

    I think any realignment would be driven by international developments. I think that is what is giving climate change its particular edge in the coalition at the moment.

  5. Greensborough Growler on 8th October 2009 7:01 pm

    As you say, Turnbull is the only one of this crop that actually wanted the job at any cost. The others are all timeists ready to take the job at the most opportune moment that would catapault them in to the Lodge.

    Henry Bolte and Joh were accidental Premiers that managed to stay in power for years despite their alleged shortcomings.

    Maybe the Libs have just pre selected a bad bunch of candidates who over time demonstrated their lack of courage, political skill and perseverance.

  6. John Rocket on 9th October 2009 12:24 am

    The Liberals need a ‘leadership’ team – like the AFL… get the top 5 or 6 – wheel one or other of them out to answer questions, end all their problems right then and there! “We don’t have _a_ leader… no we have five or six leaders… in fact! We’re all leaders!”

    Fascinating, all these Liberals not wanting to be the leader. Bunch of children really.

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