Dead party walking

Wednesday, 25 November 2009 

I hope people understand from observing me in 30-odd years of public life, that I have never run from a fight before and I don’t intend to do so now.

J Howard 11 September 2007

If people are unhappy with the leader they can do whatever … they can take whatever steps they think appropriate. But I’m the leader and I’ve made the call.

M Turnbull 24 November 2009

Turnbull’s call that the party was behind the ETS, when numbers probably suggested otherwise, is being seen as a mad act of bravado and a political death wish. In reality, he was doing no more than following Howard’s lead when support from the cabinet melted away during the APEC conference and he dared the party to sack him, because he knew there was no alternative.

Except whereas the Liberals’ alternative in 2007 was merely a vacuum, in the guise of the former Treasurer, this time the alternative is electoral suicide, in the guise of a whole host of unelectable leaders representing the opposing side of the argument.

This is the central uncomfortable fact that is being ignored by the media over the last twenty-four hours. The Coalition’s problem is not disunity, but what they are on the verge of uniting behind – a policy that is not only highly unpopular at home, but would knock Australia out of the arena of international relations.

Let’s state it again, because the media (and many in the Coalition) have forgotten it, it is inconceivable that an Australian governing party would adopt a policy that would totally isolate Australia from the global political agenda, let alone be unpopular at home, especially with business. That the Coalition are even considering it, and that key powerbrokers like Minchin are advocating such a move, is a sign of how detached the Coalition are becoming from the realities of power.

This is the “last card” that Turnbull is playing, which journalists like Shanahan can no more spell out than the fact that Turnbull called a spill several times without being challenged. It is all very well having a nice abstract discussion about ‘values’ and hiding behind a bogus scientific argument, but when it becomes necessary to put a face on it, like Andrews or Abbott, then the electoral poison that is being talked about becomes clear. This is the reason why the sceptics are talking like scientists; if they spoke like politicians, the full implications of what they are proposing would become apparent, even to themselves.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Wednesday, 25 November 2009.

Filed under State of the parties

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5 responses to “Dead party walking”

  1. Cavitation on 25th November 2009 9:20 am

    I share Shrike’s perplexity about the lack of political sense being shown by the Liberal and National party rebels over climate change. All competent politicians are giving at least lip service to combating the dangers that may arise from global climate change. I understand that some of the rebels are using this issue to undermine Malcolm Turnbull, as a means to replace him with a leader more to their liking. But picking this issue to run on is hugely counterproductive. How will they fight the next election on this issue – it’s clearly something that will render them unelectable.

    Howard used refugees as a wedge issue against Labor, and it functioned to destabilize them for a time. Rudd is doing the same to the conservative parties with climate change – but the conservative rebels are cooperating with him, and destroying the conservative side of politics. Here in Australia, we now know the first victim of global warming; it isn’t the Barrier Reef, but the conservative political parties. During the Howard years, the Liberal and National party machines clearly selected the wrong types of people to become their representatives in parliament. Too many of them are ratbags; and they are making their parties unelectable. A final legacy of the Howard years, it seems.

  2. kymbos on 25th November 2009 9:24 am

    And yet Kevin Andrews, who reminds me of the German bad guy in Raiders of the Lost Arc, has put himself up as an alternative.

    I was watching ABC2 Breakfast this morning, and Virginia Trioli was interviewing Wilson Tuckey with a tone of disbelief. As in “how can you think this is a good idea?”, as Tuckey rubbished Turnbull for not being nice enough to him.

    Anyway, it is becoming increasingly clear that the lack of a rational alternative is not enough to stop them.

  3. Ricc on 25th November 2009 1:12 pm

    We forget that bungy jumping grew out of ritual on one of Vanuatu’s islands, where young men proved their bravery or foolhardiness by jumping with a vine around their ankles. And it was some sort of fertility or agricultural ritual from memory.

    These right wingers are all trying to prove what men they are by following what they know is a suicidal course, because the old man, the ‘leader’ has gone, who might have pulled them back from it.

    Maybe Lord of the Flies is a better comparison than Vanuatu.

    Andrews is a straw man candidate, a message to Turnbull that “we hate you so much, we’d even prefer him”

    Also according to the rightwing press, it wasn’t just Howard himself who managed the culture war, but his staff – Grahame Morris, Arthur Sinodinos and so on – even Hendo imagines he once did. I gather these chaps spent a lot of time on the phones keeping front and backbench in line – stirring up trouble when required, telling them to shut up at other times.

  4. fred on 25th November 2009 3:41 pm

    At various times on various sites i9n the past I have entered the name of Kevin Andrews [he of Haneef/workNOchoices/Sudanese migrants fame] as a prime contender for worst politician in Australia.
    He usually received a ‘dishonourable mention’ as one of the close runners-up for the award.

    Yet apparently 35 members of the Liberal party [presuming the vote for a split roughly corresponds to supporters of Andrews for L of Opp] are behind him.

    Says a lot about the Liberal Party.

  5. The Piping Shrike on 25th November 2009 6:11 pm

    I think the party’s search for a set of values is not irrational, they already see in the states the impact of the erosion of the brand. The problem they have is that in finding those ‘values’ it is making them unelectable, such as if they take a sceptic line on global warming.

    As for Andrews, an unelectable platform would inevitably require an unelectable leader.

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