Wednesday, 5 May 2010
I suspect Malcolm Turnbull has become concerned the Liberal Party is a policy-free zone under Tony Abbott. Malcolm Turnbull is a man who’s been driven by making a difference to policy.
Julia Gillard 1 May 2010
I think Kevin Rudd’s shelving of the ETS … is the most extraordinary act of political gutlessness, of political cowardice, any of us could ever imagine.
Malcolm Turnbull 1 May 2010
Lord knows what he must think of his own party for doing the same. If Turnbull’s decision to leave politics was a realistic assessment of the state of play in the Australian political scene, then his decision to return shows he is as oblivious as ever.
Sure enough, just after having noted the government’s unrivalled winning streak of polls, a losing one pops up. It could be argued that it is just one poll, and those Newspolls are swinging about at the moment. A few weeks ago, one had Rudd heading for landslide, but it nevertheless fits with the softening of support behind the government that we have seen over the last year.
Yet what is striking about media discussion of the latest poll is that no-one is using it to talk about the success of the Abbott ‘experiment’. Even some of his most ardent supporters, like The Australian’s Dennis Shanahan, are acknowledging what the polls are clearly stating; a decline in government support is not translating to a rise in support for Abbott (or the Liberals for that matter, given that most of Labor’s lost vote in the latest poll is going elsewhere).
Yet despite acknowledging the limited appeal of a Coalition leader who makes a virtue out of his firm beliefs, Rudd’s problem seems to be, according to the media, come from the fact that he doesn’t believe in anything. The annoyance at Rudd’s back-flips over things like the action on global warming is particularly a theme from ABC commentators like Fran Kelly and Chris Uhlmann, the latter who was castigating Rudd as believing in nothing and being all spin, even before his decline in polls.
Surely this isn’t the same Chris Uhlmann who a year ago was chastising Rudd for believing in the threat of climate change like it was an act of faith? Maybe it was. So clearly as far as Chris is concerned, it’s important to believe in things he agrees with, or whatever. But never mind, the media seemed to be united that to succeed in Australian politics it is necessary to believe in something.
Why? Other than good governance, it’s not immediately clear why anyone should need a conviction politician for the sake of it. Rudd’s problem is not that he doesn’t believe in anything, but that neither he, nor his government, represents any section of society that would tell him what to believe.
Like Howard before him, having no real domestic agenda, Rudd has turned overseas. But whereas Howard had the neo-con con of the War on Terror (is it still on? Who won?) for a while, Rudd had a climate change consensus that drifted apart in Copenhagen. While this blogger thought Rudd would do more political damage to the Coalition on their response to Copenhagen, maintaining a stand is looking difficult for Rudd without a steer from overseas on an issue that only made sense in an international context. Yet even when Rudd is on a highly popular anti-political attack at home by taking on the Premiers, his lack of base in the party, and anywhere else, means it finishes in a fudge almost before it began.
Enter Malcolm. Just as his ego let him walk oblivious into the vacuum of a Liberal party leadership thinking the problem was Nelson and the absence of his own brilliance, rather than the nature of the Liberal leadership, now it seems it seems he is the only one who can fill the vacuum created by Rudd. But it is interesting to note the endorsement by Gillard. Obviously she is playing with the Abbott-Turnbull tension, but is there a side dig at her leader as well? She is politically smarter than Turnbull, but not in this blog’s view, Rudd. Will she make the same mistake as Turnbull after the election and try to fill a vacuum that can’t be filled?
Posted by The Piping Shrike on Wednesday, 5 May 2010.Filed under State of the parties