The excitement is palpable, the atmosphere is electric, the game is in motion as media attention quickly turns away from the dull low-wattage reality of the Coalition win, to the contest that really matters – The leadership of Labor in opposition.
Bill “Spud” Shorten has already shuffled like a punch drunk boxer into the ring, and Albo “Albo” Albanese is being goaded by his fans to enter yet another brutal bruising contest. Right now it’s looking like a two-way bout between two combatants who know they should do it for the fans, for the good of the game, but can’t summon the strength to make a convincing show of it. There is though one heavyweight contender with all the right credentials, and energy to burn, who must surely soon seize the moment and step up to the canvas.
That contender is the Member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby. Mr. Danby has represented that great safe Labor seat for what seems like forever, and in that time has done not much that anyone can remember. Mr. Danby has not held any significant posts in his many years in opposition before Labor was in government. He continued not holding any significant positions during his time on the government benches, and now it looks very much like the non-significant roles will be his for the taking now that he’s heading back to the opposition benches.
Sure, some might look at this uninspiring record and say – Where’s the leadership potential in that? Other’s might point to evidence that some Labor voters chose to vote Liberal because of their disappointment with Mr. Danby but these people would not be thinking strategically.
First let’s consider media support. Michael Danby is one of the few Labor MPs who receives the enthusiastic support of Andrew Bolt . We all know how Mr. Bolt influenced Tony Abbot to scuttle the carbon pricing – Labor needs a powerful friend like that in the tabloids to once again tell the battler’s that its okay to vote ALP.
Second let’s consider the great sweep of the electoral cycle. Once in government, a party can expect to be in for three terms before the Australian people get bored and give the old heave-ho. The ALP now faces nine years in the doghouse. Does anyone believe Bill Shorten will have the stamina to battle Tony Abbott for nine solid years before taking the Prime Ministership to which he is so manifestly destined?
One only needs to look at Mr. Shorten’s haunted visage to know that the prospect of going fifteen rounds with Mr. Abbott after such a bruising year already, whilst the termites get to work under the foundations of his own corner are already making him unwell. This is not the face of a man who is master of all he surveys.
Michael Danby on the other hand is relaxed, eager to please and has plenty of energy reserves put aside for the lean and hard times ahead.
The first three years of opposition will be the hardest for the party. Just getting used to the crappy ex-Coalition offices with the pungent vestiges of Sophie Mirabella’s perfume will be hard enough – let alone the meaninglessness of opposition drudgery. What better person to guide them though this period that Michael Danby.
For his first term as Labor leader Mr. Danby could continue doing what he’s been doing all along. Nothing! The ALP is exhausted after years of brutal infighting. It needs a rest, and the Member for Melbourne Ports knows that the best antidote to vast periods of inactivity and irrelevance it to try and get away with it without anyone noticing.
That’s just the first three years though? What about the rest I hear you ask? Well, should Mr. Danby again be ironically returned to office with the help of the Green patsies, who got an eyeful of preference rotten tomato from Mr. Danby, but naïvely gave him their preferences in return, then Mr. Danby could very well keep the Labour leadership chaise lounge for another three years.
Prime Minister Abbott has made it very clear, that despite all the frenetic cycling every morning, he will be slowing down the workings of government and hopefully getting not very much done at all. Exactly the sort of tempo most suited to Mr. Danby.
After six years of lying prostrate on the Labor leadership waterbed Mr. Danby would have done his service to the Party and could hand the reigns back to a much re-invigorated Bill Shorten, who by this time would have managed to remove Kevin Rudd’s pesky and unnecessary rule changes that grant a say to ALP members on their leader. By then Mr. Shorten’s destiny would be ready for its manifestation, and the ALP could regain power with the tacit approval of Andrew Bolt.
It might then be time for Mr. Danby to retire, comfortable in the knowledge that the baton was securely passed, and his superannuation was looking very nice indeed.