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Turnbull: leadership terminal? « Previous | |Next »
October 10, 2009

The consensus view of the Canberra Press Gallery is that Malcolm Turnbull's leadership of the Liberal Party is terminal and that and that he will not survive beyond Christmas. Dennis Shanahan, writing in The Australian, reckons that this future is cast in stone. The source for his prediction is the well known oracle of "many Liberals" who remain nameless.

Liberal leadership.jpg

Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald says:

It is not clear exactly when or how Turnbull's term will end. But once a leader is in the killing zone, unless Turnbull can pull off a turnaround of unprecedented proportions, these become details.

The killing zone? The Coalition is so deeply fractured along multiple lines - policies, personalities and party structures - that its first challenge is to avoid a looming landslide defeat. Why not kick out the Nationals? They want to become independent and they have the support of only 4 per cent of voters.

Michelle Grattan in The Age also argues that Turnbull's leadership is terminal. She says:

when dissident Liberals have kicked the leader almost to death, he's not going to be able to pick himself up and stage a credible election fight; especially when a substantial proportion of his troops dislike and distrust him.The question for the Liberals is not who could win the election for them but who will maximise or minimise the size of their loss. The way they are heading, they could be down another 25 seats. The Liberals simply can't afford Turnbull much longer.

Grattan is right about needing to address the loss. The Coalition's primary vote is as low as 35 per cent - just over one in three voters - and with its two-party preferred vote slipping at times to 42 per cent (it was 47 per cent in 2007), the Opposition could lose more than 20 seats.

There is an orchestrated leadership destabilisation campaign based on the assumption that the only thing Turnbull has left to offer is to take the bullet on an ETS and so allow the next leader a clearer run to the next election. The argument is that Turnbull cannot recover public support and that the party vote will continue to languish as long as he is leader.

The policy issue is about whether the Coalition should support any type of ETS at all. Many of the opponents of the ETS say in public that Australia should wait a whole lot longer before doing anything; but most are climate change deniers in that they reject that climate change is human-caused. So "taking the bullet on the ETS" means refusing to negotiate with the Rudd Government to make the ETS ever more business friendly.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:15 AM | | Comments (8)


Yeah I reckon he has about a year left tops.

But he's pretty safe for that period.

Would you take his place before the next election?
Then have to look to your back immediately after?
The only person who can replace him is someone who is willing to take the COALition into a defeat at the next election and almost certainly lose the job in an immediate post election defeat reshuffle.
Now who is going to volunteer for that?
Not Joe or Abbott.
Neither would be acceptable to the Oz public as potential PMs. Both are fatally flawed and even if they don't know it themselves there must be enough in their party that know that to dissuade their ambitions.
Even if Ltd News and their media mates were to try to paint a new pre election Lib leader in the most positive light possible, give them a slap bang honeymoon, the gloss would soon disappear.
Both Joe and Abbott suffer from foot and mouth disease, neither could take the scrutiny of leadership without cracking. They might last a few months before collapsing but that would be about their natural term.

And there just isn't anyone else.

Nup, they're stuck with Malcolm until after the election.
Then the wannabes can throw their hats into the ring.

This is what the Libs get for allowing lunatics and extremists to remain prominent in their parliamentary ranks for so long. When they were in government it seemed they could carry the likes of Tuckey and Mirabella and those weird senators whose names nobody can remember and pass them all off as harmless eccentrics who had no power. Now they are all at liberty to engage in their demented plotting and attention-seeking and they risk becoming the public face of conservatism, just as the craziest of the wingnuts are doing in the USA.

Howard must have thought he was a political genius to ride to power on the backs of the Hansonists and AGW denialists and warmongers and the rest but the long-term damage he was doing to his side of politics should have been obvious to his party. Now they have to pay the price. Their public humiliation is richly deserved, and Howard appearing on Fox News is a nice symbolic illustration of the dead end into which he's led his rabble of haters.

Howard could have sold the coalition weirdos on anything. Had he proposed exactly the ETS Rudd has they'd have been tripping over themselves to support it. It's Turnbull that's got them divided.

The Liberal blue bloods don't like him because he's not one of them, and Howard's backbench battlers don't like him because he thinks he's better than them. It looks to me as if the Liberals are having a bit of a class problem.

The WA Liberals have gone feral on an emissions trading scheme. Only on member at their state conference supported Turnbull and that was Julie Bishop.

They do not want to negotiate with Rudd in the Senate.They want a fight over an ETS.

For all its worth, I suspect the problem is not primarily the leadership, it is the party. Opposition almost always creates turmoil, where it seems government confers unity. Could it be that Whitlam was the most successful Leader of the Opposition, coming after a long period in that role? Is there a better candidate? Perhaps Malcolm Fraser?

Lindy Edwards in The Age says:

Turnbull's problem is not simply that he does not have a story. It is that he does not realise that he needs one.He seems to think politics is about being clever with words. The idea is to have the argument that wins the day. He does not realise that this fickle game-playing fails to build up a coherent story over time. In fact, it makes him look cynical and condescending, believing he can use his lawyer's wit to outsmart a less intelligent public.

It is the narrative that show there is substance beyond the sparring.

The rebranding of the Nationals is taking its image back to its old Country Party roots and projects it as the only party representing regional Australia.

Maybe we should all be alowed to do something like this - - Spotted in a shop window but not such a bad idea I think.....