Cheerio, Malcolm

Machiavelli says that fortune is like a woman (“she favours the bold”). Well it seems that fortune is a bit of a backstabbing so-and-so if your name is Malcolm Turnbull. After smiling on him throughout his entire professional career, she has utterly abandoned him this week.

I mean she’s had it in for Malcolm for months. Supposing there was such a thing as a “Premature Eulogy Index”, measuring blogs and columns like this one, declaring that a political figure was “dead” and dissecting their history. Malcolm’s PEI has been steadily rising and has spiked exponentially this week.

I’m not really sure what to make of it. In the past I’ve basically said he needed a wise old head to temper his boldness. Now I’d add that he needed to adopt a useful differentiating point to distinguish him from Kevin Rudd in the public’s eye. For instance, he might have adopted a carbon tax approach instead of cap & trade. He’d have been clearly different without ceding ground on the overall narrative of taking action.

Or maybe it never mattered. About a year ago Possum of Pollytics fame trotted out a series of graphs to demonstrate that primary votes follow the approval rating of the Prime Minister. No matter how popular or unpopular the Opposition Leader is, he or she lives and dies on the primary vote, and the primary vote follows the PM. Kevin Rudd is just too popular. Case closed.

And speaking of our Dear Leader, he’s spoiled for choice. Does he call a snap election to capitalise on the turmoil11. Just in Case: Pity the poor camera crew who will be standing guard outside the gates of Government House for the rest of the week. []? Or does he wait until his CPRS legislation founders in the Senate and then go for the double dissolution brass ring? I imagine that even now the old warhorses and the young turks are busily thrashing it out.

In any case, Malcolm has done the political class a great service by giving them something novel to talk about.

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7 Responses to Cheerio, Malcolm

  1. chrysellis says:

    At least Turnbull has the guts to take on the Howardian troglodytes over an issue of great national significance. It is by no means clear that the CPRS will not get through the Senate. The Coalition is in disarray. Without the usual party discipline Turnbull supporters will be crossing the floor.

    They may well crucify him on Monday or he may yet prevail.

    And if he is determined to lead the Liberals to government he may step aside, while they burn up the next leader or two, and try to stage a comeback once the trogs are fully spent (if they aren’t already).

  2. Niall says:

    Isn’t it terrific theatre? A Greek Tragedy would be no better. Will Malcolm survive? Will Tony Abbott remember to change feet when he nominates for the leadership? Will Joe Hockey be ‘real’ and nominate for the moderates, or will he reveal his true colours and run away to fight another day? And what of Christopher Pyne? He was just settling into being Opposition Manager of Business. But I’m left wondering…..whose strings is Wilson pulling, or has Wilson just been pulling himself up until now.

  3. Ken Parish says:

    I hope Malcolm survives and I hope the emissions trading legislation passes the Senate. I didn’t have much time for Turnbull after his opportunistic, cynical grandstanding on the stimulus package and anti-GFC policy generally. However he’s proven now that he’s a man with both principle and guts. At least the first of those qualities is not shared by Kevin Rudd as far as I can see.

    I would actually vote for the Coalition now with Turnbull as leader, whereas I certainly wouldn’t under any of the other leadership contenders. I don’t accept that Turnbull’s conduct of the emissions trading issue demonstrates political ineptitude. The actions of the Liberal troglodytes in the last 24 hours show they have no principle whatever and will stop at nothing to get their way despite the fact that a (narrow) majority of the party room appears to back the emissions trading legislation. Thus it wouldn’t have mattered what policy stance Turnbull had adopted or what tactics and strategies, the trogs would have taken extreme action anyway to get their own way. They became too accustomed under Howard to riding roughshod over the genuine liberals in the Liberal Party, and apparently still have that “born to rule” mentality even if it means ruling over a party they have doomed to long term opposition. There’s a certain irony in the fact that it has now emerged that the architect of Malcolm’s initial fall from grace in the Godwin Grech affair was Howard’s long-term guru Arthur Sinodinos. A more paranoid person than me could manufacture a plausible Machiavellian conspiracy theory out of that.

    Jacques, I’m surprised you’re just covering this in the standard MSM “football commentary” genre of political reportage. I would have imagined that, as a liberal/libertarian, you would be deeply concerned by the prospect of the Conservatives taking over again, and wanting Turnbull as a genuine liberal/libertarian to prevail despite his shortcomings. Or are you assuming that the bumbling, likeable but none-too-bright Joe Hockey will win?

  4. Jacques Chester says:

    I think you’ve got me dead to rights on being a theatre critic instead of a policy wonk.

    It’s funny, isn’t it? We in the political class like to pretend that we’re all about policy, rational debate and august decision making. We look down our noses at fans of Australian Idol and Big Brother; yet come down to it we’re just as fascinated in the minutiae of personality and personal drama.

    I wouldn’t have voted for Kevin Andrews in a blue fit because of how he led the charge to ride roughshod over the democratic rights of Territorians on the matter of euthenasia. I wouldn’t vote for Abbott because he’d be just as bad.

    I’ve always thought Hockey was a likeable, jovial sort of fellow; but what does he actually stand for and believe in? It’s not clear.

    As a liberal/libertarian, Turnbull is probably as good as it’s likely to get. Which is probably why the uglies are trying so hard to tear the man down.

  5. whyisitso says:

    The Liberal party under Turnbull has far too many MPs who would be more comfortable in the Labor party. There will eventually be a realignment of ideologies within the two major parties in this country: the left-liberals in the Labour party and the economic liberals/classical liberals/social conservatives in a right of centre party, maybe called the Liberal party. For example the likes of Michael Costa, Peter Walsh and Barry Cohen would have been more comfortable in the latter, and Petro Georgiou and some others in the former.

    In my view the population is split long-term roughly 50:50 between those on either side of the centre, but the pendulum does have large pendulum swings from time to time. At present the swing is well and truly to the left. Of the four parties at present, three are leftish (ALP, Liberal, Greens) and the fourth (Nationals) remain a rent-seeking special interest party. Someone like myself whose beliefs are an amalgam of classical liberalism and conservatism simply have no one to vote for at present.

    Adjustment like this take many many years, and it looks as if we are stuck with the appalling Rudd for at least three more terms. He’s certainly far worse than Whitlam was, but has better political cunnning, and will last a long time.

  6. Richard Green says:

    I genuinely hope this results in the destruction of the Liberal party. Not because I want vengence on it, or because I want to see Labor hegemony. Quite the opposite. It’s the best thing that could happen to non-Labor politics and, by creating an electable party, Australian democracy.
    If the party splintered, with the liberals and conservatives on one side, and the Conservatives on the other, I don’t think the latter would get too far. They’ve never actually been part of the business world they nominally champion, nor have they had much experience outside the political machine of the party, which is what they owe their presence in parliament to. And business won’t desire much to do with a grouping based on shibboleths and tribalism rather than their own interests. Only the former party could get the donations you need to run a party on.

    And they’d appeal more to the larger bloc of the right wing in Australia who have conservative beliefs, rather than Conservative identity.

    On another note, I can see Jacques has picked up the Murdoch press habit of using the “Dear Leader” moniker. Apart from being lazy wit, you don’t think its cheapening the extent of the suffering within N Korea? It just makes me a bit uncormfortable to trivialise totalitarianism for a cheap political point or witticism.

  7. Pingback: skepticlawyer » Interesting times

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