Let’s sum up a few things about the CPRS/leadership shenanigans:
(a) It’s been intriguing to see the focus of political discussion narrow to the Parliamentary dramatics. Journalists – and one suspects, many Liberal MPs – appear to have completely lost sight of the effect that Turnbull’s stand might be having on the public. I’d be very surprised if there isn’t a lot of sympathy for him and his position. Yet those normally obsessed with Newspoll now equate politics with a bunch of lunatics gathered in Nick Minchin’s office, rather than even stopping to think about how all this might be playing with voters. I wonder whether Newspoll will be asking questions about the Liberal leadership this weekend – its owners might not like the answers;
(b) The Liberal Right have shown themselves to be completely unelectable crazies. Liberals are not Republicans and Australia is not America. This appears to be news to some, and it’s hard to know why;
(c) Conversely, text messages and phone calls and emails from Liberal party members and Andrew Bolt’s followers do not equate to a shift in public opinion. The Libs’ only chance of being an effective opposition, and gathering votes in the centre, is to go with Turnbull’s position. The much vaunted ‘base’ will not vote Labor in a pink fit, and a stack of Liberal seats would be at risk if a Leader is elected who is a reactionary on Howard era issues such as climate change denialism and industrial relations. That was clear enough from Kevin Andrews’ press conference where most questions were about the past, and his right wing stance. This is John Howard’s poisonous legacy to his party;
(d) Talk of Turnbull’s ‘management style’ is merely code for the Liberal right refusing to be led by one not of their own. ‘Consultation’ means caving in to dinosaurs. Who’s really the arrogant one in this equation? More likely to be Nick Minchin and his mates;
(e) If Turnbull is toppled tomorrow or on Monday, and leaves Parliament, who really believes an Abbott led Liberal Party would retain Wentworth in a by-election? This is the craziness – Members like Michael Johnson in Ryan calling for Turnbull’s ousting while holding a ‘leafy’ and very marginal seat which has many moderate Liberal voters. It’s not the only one. Kelly O’Dwyer in Higgins, for instance, is going to face a lot of pressure to take a stand on climate change and the ETS in the lead up to the by-election for Peter Costello’s former seat. The Liberals’ actual base is multiple and plural, and they can’t hold it by playing only to the revanchists.
Update: Turnbull’s press conference is now on YouTube.
Elsewhere: Politically Homeless.
Update: Fresh post – Abbott will stand for the leadership on Monday.