The Liberal Party expects every man to do his duty.

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No not me. I don’t want it!

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Bring Back Cl's blog
Bring Back Cl's blog
14 years ago

he has petered out

cs
cs
14 years ago

The options seem strictly limited. If John Howard is determined to fight the election, he may have to duck off to the Governor-General and ambush his own party, perhaps campaigning on a slogan such as “unity and leadership”.

If Peter Costello won’t challenge, as seems the case, he can only win the leadership if Howard abdicates. Yet, whether Howard is knifed or abdicates, he will be unlikely to contest Bennelong, and wouldn’t be able to do so with a skerrick of credibility. This means Maxine McCue will win the seat which sits at the magic 14 on the pendulum, giving another big boost to Rudd.

After, presumably, a little upward bump in the government’s polls, would Costello want to be PM only to go down in history as presiding over a major conservative loss, afterwhich he would face the prospect of a long period as leader of the opposition, at the end of which he would be unlikely to be the leader? Would a Howard abdication be conditional upon Costello not getting the job?

If I was the all-powerful Liberal power-broker, I’d chuck the job to a chick. Julie Bishop as leader with Malcolm Turnbull as Treasurer could be presented as the conservative faces of the future to establish their profiles with a view to 2010 and 2013, perhaps campaigning on the slogan of, err, “experience”. Then again, they could get laughed off the national stage.

David Rubie
David Rubie
14 years ago

I’d go with Downer as the leader. At least that way, they’ve got a proven incompetent to finger point at. Even better, engineer it so that it looks like Downer knifed the old boy before assuming the leadership. Howards legacy can then be rehabilitated reasonably quickly (he would have won it! He was a genius but that idiot Downer knifed him! etc.). Howard still (kind of) gets to go out on top, as he didn’t jump but was pushed by a bunch of ingrates.

Of course, that leaves the (miniscule) possibility that Downer wins the unwinnable and we get the pillock as PM. Nah, couldn’t happen.

Robert
Robert
14 years ago

It has to be Costello, remade from the first minute without the smirk, and ten day’s solid of his concise, hard, positive (the right line of upliftment), elder statesman-in-droves declarations repealing the policies one by one that have hurt. He has to deal firstly with perceptions – smashing current Liberal Party image for those things mentioned, and then reshape the Party image on the back of those reshaped policies, hammering home that the reshaping is for the country’s future, and make it clear why. He has to drop the fear line as that only gives power to Rudd and loses the statesman power, and he has to get everyone thinking that this, now, is the real Costello. Achieve that, the commentary and public talk would be more than “a second look” and have them very interested. He’d be severely questioned about his about face on those policy issues, and would have no choice but to say the policies went too far, he was a part of getting it wrong and has spent some time in reflection and couldn’t speak out before, and he’s saved the future day for the country through reshaping the whole thing here and now, and draw upon the grains of quality the Coalition has established to write them into the heart of the new shape. This would send massive shock waves through the system and hold the public interest.

Can he do it? Probably not. He could, though, appear much warmer than he is and let that good humour show through, long buried.

The Liberal Story is Howard and Costello. The public won’t accept a different story this close to poll. Costello, tomorrow, has the chance to grab the best bits of that story and rewrite it for ease of public consumption. He could conceivably win.

observa
observa
14 years ago

With the luxury of 20/20 hindsight it might have been better (from a national political perspective) if a handover had happened 12 months ago and we could have had more time to compare the 2 parties performance under new leaderships and direction. That may have produced a very narrow margin for a Costello led Govt this time round, facing a much larger talented and empowered Rudd Opposition, which could build its credentials as the obvious choice next time. As it is now we’ll probably plump for Rudd Labor and hope for the best.

Of course I appreciate Labor supporters won’t see it that way naturally and a Rudd Govt could exceed all expectations this time round.

Andrew Reynolds
14 years ago

Who was who said “He went from being tomorrow’s man to yesterday’s man without ever actually being today’s man”?

Caroline
14 years ago

Oh God. NO. He could lose horribly too.

Make the fall-guy a woman eh cs? Very popular with the corporate sector–a charming tactic.

I think Howard is more than happy to go down in a blaze of glory ignominy and disrepute and couldn’t give a tinker’s who he takes down with him. Its not about anyone else, its about Howard. Its always been about Howard which is why he stinks to high heaven and why most of the population including his own party want to be rid of him. I don’t think Costello would want to touch this with a barge pole. Workchoices would remain in place if Costello lead and subsquently won, and Howard-hating as a novel, sideshow distraction, most people find this particular piece of heavily skewed legislation pretty hard to swallow.

If Howard stepped aside for Costello, and if Costello promised to ‘wind back’ Workchoices, he could probably fall over the line. But I sincerely hope the rodent x terrier hangs grimly on.

observa
observa
14 years ago

Easy to say when you’ve never had anywhere near respectable party support numbers Andrew. That’s probably any strong leader’s legacy. The power vacuum they leave behind. Costello gets compared to Howard all the time, while Rudd’s only got Lithium or the Beazer for contrast.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

Jacques

if pete comes across well ,stops smirking for second people would have forgetten all that stuff about what happened 12 monhts ago. No one really cares. Do you vividly recall the Beazer? It feels like he was around at the time of the Greeks.

Richard Green
Richard Green
14 years ago

Not only does the woman option have precedent in the collapse of corporate sausagefests, it has electoral precedent in another federal, multicultural commonwealth country http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Campbell .

‘course, we can only hope for a result like that.

Robert
Robert
14 years ago

Hartcher’s account is edifying. Seems Howard kicked off this crisis himself.

Grattan has changed her mind after yesterday’s events and thinks Howard has almost certainly done himself in electorally, and “the only logic is to go ahead with the switch”.

Kelly thinks Howard’s will is prevailing. Bizarrely, Kelly also says in his piece Incredibly, he [Howard] hasnt been asked in the past few days whether he still had the support of his party. Well why didn’t Paul Kelly ask him ffs. But that would be incredible?

There are some things which are affecting all of this. Janette Howard (as mentioned in Grattan’s piece) would be playing a large role: perhaps too large for some colleagues’ liking. This crisis began when Bush was here, and it’s imaginable Howard’s head was filled with “power” because of that. Howard’s colleagues – right when they need him – would fairly feel deserted.

Perhaps indicative of how Howard is playing this can be found in how he dealt with Turnbull. It was Howard who set the pigeons fly, asking for an assessment of his support which naturally gave the impression he was in two minds over his own position, Turnbull would have acceded to the request (delivered through Downer), Turnbull’s response ends up public, so Howard picks Parliament – in full view of the reporting contingent and the cameras – to have a little chat with Turnbull, replete with finger pointing. All for show.

I reckon a few Lib MPs are about hating Howard right now.

Howard will tomorrow no doubt once again restate his party room line that the conditions, the planks, upon which Governments change are not evident. There is little evidence Howard has changed his self-assessment of Monday night that “I don’t believe the public want me or the Government out”. What a meeting that will be.

It belies belief that Howard can regain the support from his party as required to present as electable. The lot of them have no policy future to believe in, nothing of substance to fall back on, so they’re pecking themselves to death.

They’re not a Government. They’re, at best, a mob. How the chickens are coming home to roost, by the hour.

Bring Back Cl's blog
Bring Back Cl's blog
14 years ago

they are not a mob they are a rabble

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

Paralysis! That’s the verdict from Grattan et al. on Fran’s chat n’ chew this morning.

The panel’s verdict was that the government is hamstrung. They know that Howard has lost the people, but they also know that Costello doesn’t have enough runway to get airborne.

From memory Michelle said something like, “Ultimately replacing Howard is the only option. To continue to endorse Howard as leader in the current climate just looks like going backward”.

In other words Johnny: Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.

Robert
Robert
14 years ago

Losing Grattan was a big hit for Howard. She’ll not come back so readily, and not ever to the extent before. She doesn’t get cynical publicly on people that often, but when she does that seems to be it.

I think two events here are remarkable. Costello could have said three words to stop this massive damage – “I’m behind Howard” – but didn’t. That shows he was happy to have Howard and his Party suffer enormously, because this one was Howard’s doing. The hate is obvious. The Costello Memoirs are hereby noted as bestseller.

And the media ran like hell with this. Howard is probably right now laying down the law that this is the last chance anyone has to go public with leadership concerns or their devastation will be complete, because none of the commentators now will be of mind to let this mob off lightly, as so many of the main journos’ standings are now also inextricably tied to the LNP. They’ve all had the door opened to them to buy in, and they did so big time.

So the succession of events so far has been: Howard’s annihilation speech as response to horrific polling tied his leadership to the polls [he didn’t have to do that but did], which has come forth time and again that whenever the polls look bad the leadership issue gets thrown up; now we have the media tied to that as well [again, Howard’s doing]. After 11 years, many of them dry deserts of material for journo’s as all they had to go by was spewed up Howard lines due to no real opposition, journo’s now are hungrier than ever before to cut through with a story. Where that leaves the master now is anyone’s guess.

And does that speak of the brilliance he’s supposed to have?

However it’s papered over today, the seismic shifts have taken place, now the media has accepted the invitation and bought in.

And Labor has yet to use a speck of it.

Robert
Robert
14 years ago

Polling cum Leadership cum Journalist Standing creates a dynamic ready-mix for Labor to ignite whenever it wants from here to poll day. One feeds off the other. So you have a two or three of four or five day cycle out of what otherwise would be a line in a story.

And then there are the Labor TV ads – given unprecedented power now.

Robert
Robert
14 years ago

As a result of today, anyone following this madness may find Costello’s post-meeting video presser of some (probably minor) interest, except that the first minute of his answers indicates he expects to be Prime Minister elected on the back of a John Howard and team victory, and the remaining ten minutes is a wonderful how-to should you wish to make one of those papier mache heads built up over a balloon, all nice and shiny smooth, with ears or eyebrows however you like, courtesy of your elected governing representatives.

Robert
Robert
14 years ago

As mentioned above, the two occasions presenting are that Howard can somehow claw back something of a position from which to remain as leader and go into full blown election mode [triggered by an announcement, either of a riveting vision for the future which ‘only Howard can implement’ thereby cementing public need for him, or the calling of an election], or that media events will take over, with which he’ll lose control of the lot, and be taken out.

Yesterday’s events had Howard more than half-way there to regaining what he needed, on appearance, until he blew the lot by saying he’d probably retire. In retrospect, when Abbott, prior to the party room meeting, that Costello had given his full support to the PM, it was reasonably obvious Howard had already done a retirement deal (of sorts, enough to satisfy Costello at least) sometime during the previous evening or earlier that morning.

Howard’s been running on appearances the entirety of his Prime Ministership; yesterday’s events shows we’re now cutting to the core. He can no longer manage how he is appearing.

Today’s media shows it is taking over the Coalition story, out of Howard’s control.

The Howard Government has Day One of a full blown crisis.