The Turnbull endgame?

The Australian today abounds with talk of replacing Malcolm Turnbull as Coalition leader.  Dennis Shanahan and Matthew Franklin wrote a piece Desperate Liberals look to replace Turnbull with Robb, and Shanahan has a blog.  It's a loser or the last man standing.  The sixty comments are pretty evenly divided between support for making a change and leaving Turnbull there as Robb would be no better.  Jack the Insider has a blog Turnbull artistry no match for the numbers.  He concludes “...that the hard heads in the Coalition will soon reach the view, if they have not already done so, that the continued existence of the Liberal Party depends on a change in leadership.”  He did not canvass Robb as an alternative.  Most of the 240 respondents, even those with Liberal leanings, agree that a change is necessary. [more]

The Political Sword has long maintained that while Malcolm Turnbull was an accomplished journalist, barrister, businessman and banker, he was not a politician and would have difficulty in the political milieu.

On 19 September last year in Will the real Malcolm Turnbull please stand up? it was argued that after starting so promisingly when he entered parliament, when this independent thinker and decision-maker was being forced uncomfortably into a political mould as a Howard Government minister, his authority faded and he became less convincing.  He seemed to not have his heart in what he was saying.

Then in The Turnbull Report Card 10 days in posted on 26 September soon after he became leader, after acknowledging his pluses, concluded ”...where he falls short is when he is not on his favoured turf, when he’s challenged with uncomfortable facts, when he attempts to advocate causes in which he does not have his heart, and when he has to defend untenable positions.  As political life abounds with such circumstance, unless he can overcome this flaw, he will have difficulty convincing the people of the merit of his approach and his capacity to manage a nation beset with many contemporary challenges and complexities.  Leading a nation is so much more complex and demanding, so different from life at the bar and managing a merchant bank.”

Then in Malcolm’s at it again posted on 15 October when he was beginning to qualify his support initially given to the first Rudd Government stimulus package, he began to sound less persuasive, became circumlocutory, and arguably lost his audience. The piece concluded “Kim Beasley was criticized for his prolixity, and unable to overcome it, eventually people stopped listening.  Indeed this was a major factor behind the move to replace him as leader.  Leaders who lose their audience – Beasley and Howard are examples - lose elections.  Turnbull’s minders would be wise to point out this defect to him, and try to rectify it, always providing Malcolm’s ego will tolerate such a move.

To quibble or not to quibble posted the next day when Turnbull again quibbled about his support for the stimulus, concluded “As said so many times in this blog, when Turnbull does his own thing and promotes his own views, he looks impressive and sounds authentic; but as soon as he’s forced to toe the party line, he loses his lustre and becomes an ordinary politician...When will the Coalition learn?  When will they realize that sometimes it’s better not to quibble.”

The emerging Opposition strategy posted on 13 November, described the strategy being adopted by Turnbull and the Coalition: attacking everything the Government did, criticizing everything Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan proposed, and attacking them personally, labeling them as incompetent and reckless.  At the time Crikey’s Bernard Keane said “The risk with Turnbull’s tactics are that they backfire, and create a public impression of a smart-rse, someone who failed to get behind the Government as it tried to manage a global crisis...The risk at the moment is that he cruels his public image before that can happen. Once the public has an image of you, it’s very hard to shake it off.”   The TPS piece concluded “So it’s hard to see any logic to Turnbull’s strategy and tactics other than his belief that if he throws enough mud, some will stick, and that by repeatedly attempting to discredit Rudd, Swan and the Government generally, he will gain traction, the scales will fall from the voters’ eyes, and he will emerge as the indispensable statesman who can restore Australia to the ‘glory’ of the Howard years.  On the other hand, as Keane suggests, his strategy may inflict so much damage on his image that recovery will be difficult, if not impossible.  Some are already punting he will not survive as leader to the next election; what he’s now doing may ensure that this becomes a discerning prophesy.  Unfortunately for him, his impatience, his ego and his determination to use a ‘do whatever it takes’ strategy no matter how politically opportunistic, may be his undoing.”

The pattern of Turnbull’s behaviour was becoming clearer.

The ‘deficit’ wedge posted on 25 November was written when the deficit and debt slogan was launched.  The piece concluded “What this amounts to is an opportunistic ploy by the Opposition to wrong-foot and embarrass the Government about the much-talked-about deficit, and to paint it as incapable of sound economic management if it finally does go into deficit for the good of the nation.  That the Coalition’s wedge campaign flies in the face of sensible economic management in these troubled times is of no importance to them; political advantage and the wistful hope of winning the next election is all that counts...Since his election to leadership Turnbull has posed as a financial guru, but he has gained no traction in two party preferred terms in the opinion polls...The people don’t seem to be buying his rhetoric...Turnbull needs to be careful that his blatant opportunism doesn’t backfire.”

Turnbull’s benchmarks for failure of 30 November described his three benchmarks for Rudd Government failure: going into a deficit, rising unemployment, and recession. The piece concluded: “Economist after economist, commentator upon commentator agree that under the current economic circumstances a deficit occasioned by a well-targeted fiscal stimulus is necessary to limit the risk of recession.   They agree with Rudd and Swan, not with Turnbull.  His demand that the Government avoid a deficit, although this would be detrimental to the economy, to jobs, and to the nation, is irresponsible.  But will contrary opinion be enough to stop him?  Laurie Oakes doesn’t think so.  Writing in the 29 November issue of the Daily Telegraph ‘Turnbull falls into deficit’ he suggests that even if he is wrong, Turnbull is never in doubt about the correctness of his position.  So it’s unlikely Turnbull will change tack – no price is too high for him to achieve political traction.  If one can judge from the latest opinion polls, Turnbull is spinning his wheels.  He desperately needs traction.  But his strategy is risky.  The people are watching.  When they see through his glib talk, he will be the one who fails.”

The ‘stop at nothing’ pattern was emerging.

The 2 December piece Why does Malcolm Turnbull make so many mistakes? concluded “History may show that Turnbull’s biggest mistakes are underestimating Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan, perpetually insisting they ‘simply don’t understand’ financial or economic matters, consistently condemning their every move, changing his tune whenever it suits him, flying in the face of competent economic intelligence, failing to exercise strong leadership, continuing to make political points at a time of unparalleled financial turmoil and steadily losing credibility as he does, indulging in obfuscation and circumlocution while avoiding answering questions asked by interviewers, and most significantly failing to notice that the people are not behind him.”  

Then on 24 February this year in Malcolm Turnbull’s intelligence it was argued that intelligence was not a uniform trait, and that his clearly demonstrated intelligence in his prior endeavours did not guarantee that he had political intelligence.  It was written following Julie Bishop's decision to fall on her sword as shadow treasurer, and when Turnbull was faced with the choice of filling the spot created when he sacked the little-known (right-wing) Cory Bernardi for insulting fellow frontbencher (moderate) Christopher Pyne, and in the process got himself into a mess with his party.  The piece concluded “So shall we stop repeating the pointless mantra that ‘Turnbull is highly intelligent’ and then express surprise when he makes elementary political mistakes.  Shall we acknowledge that intelligence is not a uniform attribute, and that while Turnbull has intelligence in some areas, he has poorly developed political intelligence, acumen, or judgement, call it what you will.  The real question for the Coalition is whether he has the capacity ever to develop it.  Or will his universally acknowledged large ego and self-confidence render him incapable of learning from his political mistakes.  There’s not much sign of that so far.  If the prognosis is as poor as it looks, his party has a very fundamental problem.”

On 11 April a piece Why is Malcolm Turnbull so unpopular? began “There’s not much need to emphasize Turnbull’s contemporary unpopularity – it’s all over the air waves and the papers.  It takes only a few metrics to quantify it...He leads a Coalition that Possum’s Pollytrack currently shows has an average TPP vote of only 40.  Pollytrack shows 60/40 in Labor's favour across several polls, and Pollytrend showing a steady trend away from the Coalition.  Turnbull seems to be relying on the economy steadily worsening, unemployment rising towards 10% and with it anger rising too, anger that would be vented in many ways, not least against those in Government.  Then he believes the people will conclude they have been duped by an incompetent Rudd Government, and that a change back to competent economic managers, the Coalition, is the only solution.  Indeed just this week he announced that only when he becomes Prime Minister at the next election would the economy be in safe hands.”

The piece described Turnbull’s Terrible Trifecta: Negativity-Arrogance-Disingenuousness and suggested that instead of the Trifecta, “...another choice for him and the Coalition would be to develop decent policy options and plausible alternatives to Government policy; introduce them modestly rather than insisting they are the only way to go; stick to the facts and avoid deceit.  Public respect, now so profoundly lacking, might then be gradually restored.  But at the moment Turnbull seems hell-bent on leading his colleagues, like lemmings, right over the cliff.  Does he know how close to the edge he is?”

Stop at nothing – Malcolm Turnbull’s fatal flaw? posted on 24 June around the time of the OzCar affair, which is now at its zenith, used Annabelle Crabb’s Quarterly Essay to ask if the ‘stop at nothing’ approach was Turnbull’s fatal flaw.  It concluded “Many commentators have remarked on Turnbull’s impetuosity, his headlong incautious rush into situations that need careful thought, the absence of the ‘due diligence’ that one might expect of a legal man, his self-confidence and arrogance, and his lack of political nous.  The Political Sword has long contended that Turnbull is a barrister, a banker and businessman, but not a politician.”

Turnbull in a China shop posted on 13 July, not surprisingly at the time of the Stern Hu affair, described Turnbull’s insistence that the PM ring the Chinese President Hu Jintao at once and demand that Hu be released immediately, a diplomatically inappropriate move that exposed Turnbull’s poor judgement.  It concluded “All this leads us to the question: “Does Malcolm Turnbull’s behaviour over the Hu incident fit him to be Prime Minister of Australia?  Does it improve his chances from that of two weeks ago?  Or is he behaving, as is usual, like a ‘Turnbull in a China shop’.

To draw this long piece to an end, should we be surprised at the position in which Turnbull now finds himself?  Looking back over a year or more a pattern of behaviour has become clearly apparent. 

Impetuosity, poor political judgement, ruthlessness and self-confidence not matched by political ability, that goes to his character, his integrity and his political wisdom, all of which are now highly questionable.

Is Turnbull’s endgame upon him?  ‘Endgame’ describes the last part of a chess game, when there are very few pieces left.  That looks like the right word. 

It seems that only lack of a plausible alternative can now save him.

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6/08/2009For what it’s worth, in the Online Poll in [i]The Australian[/i] that asks “Can Turnbull survive OzCar”, 65% say ‘No’, 35% ‘Yes’ out of over 6,000 votes counted.,25197,22073824-5013404,00.html


6/08/2009OOmmmm. OOOOOOOm. OOOOM. OOmmmm. Mantras. A repetitively intoned sacred formula. In this case without meaning. “So shall we stop repeating the pointless mantra that ‘Turnbull is highly intelligent’ and then express surprise when he makes elementary political mistakes?" I too have got sick of that mantra being incessantly moaned by the mass media. Another mantra, or at least a meme attempting to be a paradigm, currently being pushed by repitition is that the COALition, Turnbull and Abetz in particular and who knows who else at this stage, and the media, Lewis in particular, bear no fault or responsibility for the mess they are in. They are just innocent naive well meaning blokes trying to do their best who got hornswoggled by a 'respected credible whistleblower who unfortunately and paradoxically is unwell and made an 'error of judgment'. Our heroes, Mal and mates, did nothing to create the mess. Just bad luck durn it. Standard operating procedure, according to Brandis last night, that everyone does. Court whistleblowers that is. [Notice how 'whistleblower' gets a run at every opportunity? Well, except the Public Service boss woman has come out and said they don't, but hey, who are Mal and the media to introduce concepts like facts and ethics into their spin? I'm getting fed up with media spin.

Bushfire Bill

6/08/2009There is no question that Malcolm Turnbull is finished. In true "Rainmaker" style, it's time for him to move on to the next town, the next bunch of dupes, before the current lot grab him, tie him to a log and apply copious quantities of tar and feather to his vitals. Run out of town on a rail... that's Malcom's fate ... if he isn't careful. No need for polls, no need for elections. The public is well and truly sick and tired of Turnbull the muckraker, the trouble-maker, disrupting people's everyday lives with his preposterous charges, his vanity and his self-obsession. Who cares if his mother left him when he was "Little Malco"? Who cares if he's been trying to win her back by "achieving"? It is of monumental unimportance to the Australian public whether Turnbull can find his oedipal fix in politics or elsewhere (perhaps with his wife and buxom daughter). Please, Malcom... just go... and do it as quickly as possible, so we can get back to business as usual, y'know... keeping our jobs, growing our economy, living normal lives without constant exposure to your latest Silver Bullet strategy. There are plenty of other people who've had it tougher than being the poorest kid in Cranbrook. Grow up! Stop hiding behind Mummy's no longer existent apron strings. In short: [i]Get adult[/i]. Your crocodile tears were like water off a duck's back to this quack-o-crat. Apologize and disappear to Tuscany, or that spread you have in the Hunter Valley with the horses and the hats and the moleskins. Half yer bloody luck to be able to do so. If I had my druthers I'd be there like a shot. [i]So should you[/i].

Just Me

6/08/2009Turnbull lacks political insight and nuance. Fatal to any with leadership ambitions.


7/08/2009What is needed is a locked in Liberal totally dedicated to the cause right or wrong use any methods available, does not mind getting beaten/thrashed at the next election. I have found a perfect nightwatchman candidate mind you he is under psychiatric care at present and will be needing a job when released shortly, but an earlier GG brought down a labor government so a precedent has been set history can be repeated now where did I put my medication.

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7/08/2009fred, Turnbull is not just intelligent, but fiercely intelligent, according to Annabelle Crabb. How that attribute is judged is never stated. Given that whatever it is that is labelled ‘intelligence’ is not a uniform trait in an individual, it is pointless using the term in a generic way. It must be obvious now to just about everyone, even to his colleagues, that Turnbull is sadly lacking in political acumen, nous, skill, or intelligence if that term is to be used. Journalists are now saying this, but in the same piece will also insist that he is highly intelligent. They don’t seem to see the contradiction, or else see political acumen/nous/skill as something different from what they regard as ‘intelligence’. Taking responsibility for the OzCar mess has been so difficult for Turnbull and Abetz, and of course Lewis, who is never going to give other than ‘an explanation’ of his actions. Abetz is culpable, perhaps as much as Turnbull; his nasty and sarcastic performance interrogating Grech in Senate Estimates was reprehensible. His day of reckoning is coming if the Senate enquiry gets up, and he deserves all the ignominy that ought to follow. Yet despite my feeling of loathing for what he did, when I saw him on ABC Tasmania radio admitting he was wrong and apologizing (actually using the word) for the mess AND for any hurt suffered by Kevin Rudd, my attitude softened. The power of an apology is profound. In contrast, Turnbull could not bring himself to apologize at his Press Conference, and steadfastly refuses to do so. He had another chance on [i]Q&A[/i] last night, but deliberately turned it down. As he did my attitude to him hardened even further, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Dennis Shanahan has written a perceptive piece this morning in [i]The Australian, Failing the faith test[/i],25197,25892994-7583,00.html that canvasses this issue, together with the more sensitive issue of Turnbull’s shabby treatment of the ailing Grech, whom he discarded ruthlessly once he realized Grech had let him down. What Grech did was reprehensible and he will pay a severe penalty, but to throw him on the scrap heap when, however misguidedly, he was trying to help Turnbull says volumes about Turnbull’s character. People will ask themselves “Is this the man we want as PM”?; all except rusted-on Liberals, and even some of them, will answer NO.

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7/08/2009BB, I agree that Turnbull is finished, but in the absence of a plausible alternative, he may go on being a ‘dead man walking’ for a while yet. Nobody who has any leadership ambitions wants the poisoned chalice; nobody wants to take the Coalition to certain defeat and be pilloried for it. This virtually rules out Hockey, Abbott and the younger hopefuls. It would only be someone who was content to be just a ‘night watchman’ who would take it on. Even then, the party would not want to select someone who would produce a worse result than would Turnbull, if that is possible. That is why Robb was not a silly suggestion. He would at least come across as a stable, sensible and careful leader, and as someone has jokingly pointed out, he looks like an older Rudd; even his name is similar. But of course he carries the baggage of climate denial, and is an old Howardite. So much as I would like to see the deeply character-flawed Turnbull on his way, as I know you would, I doubt if the Liberals have the guts to lever him out; it would take a mighty big lever to ease out someone as determined, stubborn, and self-satisfied as Turnbull. From Labor’s point of view though, he may be the best one to have as Opposition leader come election time.

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7/08/2009Just Me, Turnbull’s lack of political insight became apparent long before he became leader, but under the spotlight that starkly exposes Opposition leaders, it soon became obvious to anyone with their eyes open, which is why I was moved to write the exposé [i]Malcolm Turnbull’s intelligence[/i] back in February. Lack of insight, coupled with stubborn streak that prevents him from admitting his mistakes and apologizing for them, gives him a double whammy that is lethal for political leaders.

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7/08/2009Bilko, As I mentioned in my response to Bushfire Bill, in the absence of a genuine leader to take over from Turnbull, a nightwatchman seems the only way out for the Liberals to minimize losses at the next election. Unless they do that, they will be so far behind that it will be virtually impossible to win the following one, leaving them in opposition for nine years at least. I was amused by your suggestion for a nightwatchman; certainly GG will be looking for another job; despite his Liberal inclinations, the Libs would put as much distance as possible between him and them.

Sir Ian Crisp

7/08/2009There should be no sympathy for the Banker. He gleefully immersed himself in the machinations of Australian politics and came out smelling like cow dung. He might have been better off staying at arm’s length from the email trail by giving the hatchet job to someone in the ranks who wouldn’t be missed should the excreta hit the fan blades. Someone like Iron Bar Tuckey or any of the other liberal cowboys (there’s no shortage of them). Just as surely as vultures follow a lame horse, the Banker’s self-inflicted wounds are obvious to a growing number of vultures waiting for the chance to strike. It won’t be long before the susurrus in the liberal party’s head office and elsewhere turns into the audibility of discontent.

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7/08/2009Sir Ian, You’re right. Turnbull’s impatience and his determination to pursue his holy grail of prime ministership have made any sense of propriety out of the question. So he rushes in recklessly where a more prudent person would exercise caution, wait, get someone else to do a test run and take the flak if it occurred. No, he has to go in with all guns blazing. I read today that even in party meetings he interrupts members while they are speaking with his own views. On [i]Q&A[/i] last night he briefly took over compeering from Tony Jones. His self-belief overrides his commonsense. Regarding the vultures, I’m sure they’ll be circling, but does even one have the courage to swoop and tear apart the carrion? The Liberals don’t have much of a recent record of taking out leaders that have outlived their usefulness.


8/08/2009I was asked in a discussion at Ozelectionforum whether I thought Malcolm was 'in' or 'out' as a result of the latest fake e-mail revelations. This was my response: "He's in. I thought that before this revelation and I reckon there are more to come and he will spin and stonewall and dead bat and smokescreen all over the place I reckon he'll stay hoping it will all go away eventually. Because: -He has money -He is too conceited to concede -Neither Hockey nor Abbott are vote winners and the party knows it. Maybe someone from left field, oops right field, Pyne, Costello may be resurrected, I hope so. But really they are long shots. -And god knows who is is involved in what possibly nefarious ways. They'll all watch their backs for some days or weeks at least. Then we'll have the AFP report to keep the pot boiling. -Would YOU take his place?? Now of all times. If anyone does it will be seen purely as a caretaker/night watchman [or woman, maybe Bishop, nah she has no electoral appeal]. The potential leaders will see leadership as a poisoned chalice and will spend their time doing backroom deals and then make their play after the election [which won't be a DD] when they will reckon there is some hope for the future cos right now the ALP is running hot. So I reckon he'll hang tough and hope for the best and the party will let him. But I could be wrong of course. What do you think?" Any comment?


8/08/2009I must say I find it almost unbelievable that Truffles turned out to be a complete dud and his intelligence is all front and bluster. He has hurtled from one disaster to another from the moment he look over the leadership and has learned nothing on the way. The Libs should give him the royal shove immediately despite the dearth of talent from which to choose another leader - anyone will be better and no-one could possibly make things worse for them.


8/08/2009Should have picked him a looser right from the time he f@(ked up the republic debate. It's obvious Lucy wares the pants in that house. Cheers Eb.

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8/08/2009fred, I agree. He’s likely to hang on because no one wants the job. Not much of a raison d'être, but Turnbull will accept any excuse. The Libs have to decide whether to leave him there and accept a painful result at the next election, or try someone else with all the disruption that would create, in the hope of containing the loss of seats. That’s why Robb is being considered. janice, I would like to see the Libs give him the shove, but I doubt if any of them has got the guts or the numbers. It’s a lose-lose situation they face. Eb, One journalist reported that the Libs wondered if they had picked the wrong Turnbull.


8/08/2009I cant for the life of me understand how when Turmbull makes so many mistakes and comes across so pathetically that anyone can say he is highly intelligent. I am a Liberal, and feel that if Turmbull and Robb the new proposed leader of the liberals is all that the Liberals have for leadership then God help us.. By putting Robb up for leader, it is showing that they do not have anyone in the party who is any good.. Can anyone out there tell me another party I can vote for that is not left winged and not one that pretends that it is not left wing?? The only hope for the liberals that I can see is to encourage Peter Costello to take the leadership and not stand him down as leader when and if liberals loose the next election.. and if they don’t want to do that, what about Joe Hokey???? he is fantastic...

Sir Ian Crisp

9/08/2009Gaye, Joe was the idiot who was asleep at the wheel when HIH went belly-up. The only time that our pollies seem to be paroxysmally attentive is when the Parliamentary Remuneration Tribunal goes into deliberation mode. Watching Joe in parliament as his face goes red and he points and shouts reminds me a lot of a footie fan unhappy with an umpiring decision. Joe is sadly like the rest of our federal politicians: he is a professional idiot.

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9/08/2009Gaye, Welcome to [i]The Political Sword[/i]. There seems to be a consensus among political commentators that Turnbull is still leader only because the talent pool is so meagre, and because no one with leadership pretentions wants to drink from what looks like a poisoned chalice. Costello seems determined to stick to his intentions to exit and if one can judge from his [i]Lateline[/i] bucketing of Turnbull as described in [i]Killing him softly with his words[/i] and other comments he’s made to the media, he is fast burning his bridges. While nothing is impossible in politics, it seems highly improbable that anything will change his mind. The only other overt contenders, Hockey and Abbott, are in no hurry, and Robb would at best be a nightwatchman. So Turnbull may be allowed to carry the can to the election and suffer the consequences, which is what he wants to do anyway. Tuesday’s party room meeting will give us an indication of how the party is going to handle the leadership issue. I once thought Joe Hockey was the Liberal’s best prospect, but subsequent events have eroded that view. I think Sir Ian Crisp is closer to the mark on Joe. He’s likeable enough and would not grate on people as Turnbull seems to do, but to be a potential PM, one needs to be a political heavyweight, which Joe is not. Sir Ian, I’m having more and more to agree with you about Joe. I saw a clip of him on [i]Insiders[/i] this morning on his hiking trip with a chook on his lap. Not sure if that image has metaphorical meaning.

Just Me

9/08/2009Hockey is political fluff. No chance of him becoming PM.


9/08/2009AA At least it was not a bullocks head on his lap and he did not look all that comfortable. On Turnbull's fate all the cartoonists seem to be in agreement the old "Nowhere Man" ex beetles song just about sums him up. The latest Morgan poll using AG reps calc dose not leave many potential heavies still with a seat playing withit it has become one of my favourite diversions. Gaye the new "Sex party" may be an option for your vote. I must read their Web site if I can find it.

Bushfire Bill

9/08/2009[i]"I agree that Turnbull is finished, but in the absence of a plausible alternative, he may go on being a ‘dead man walking’ for a while yet."[/i] The above statement assumes that Turnbull will hang on no matter what; that his indefatigability knows no bounds. My take on his character is that he will get sick of the Liberal Party continually white-anting him, and will leave of his own accord. He has a full life (at least statistically) ahead of him, and I'm sure he's been considering his what his options might be without the constant nagging and carping from his own side. Remember, this is pretty-well [i]exactly[/i] what Costello did. On election night, when handed the chalice that had been denied him, and by John Howard of all people (like: "I'm sick of doing this now, Peter can have a go,") and under accolades from the Party that had shunned him, he did what any self-respecting human being would do: told them to bugger off and sort out their own problems without him. If it was good enough for them to kow-tow to Howard when he was politically alive, they could erect a shrine to The Great Helsman's dead body and worship that, for all Costello cared. This is actually what has happened,in my analysis of Costello. He kept them on a string for 18 months, hoping for a change of heart, and then flew the coop with a giggle and a smirk. You could almost hear him singing [i]Cry Me A River[/i] ('cause he cried a river over them). Turnbull is used to winning, but I suspect knows when to cut his losses. Just imagine... he could resign (both the leadership and his seat), collect Lucy and Daisy and float off to somewhere warm where he can pay people to be his friends (or to give a much more convincing account of themselves than the present bunch of ingrates have). Turnbull is not of the Liberal Party. It's just a vehicle for his ambitions. I don't believe he has any gut determination to reform it if it doesn't want him to be there when the process is over. The businessman, the lawyer and the person in Turnbull must be aching to cut their losses and leave his colleagues to their own internal bitching. The Liberals haven't formulated any new policy directions because they can't believe the public doesn't want them back in government. You see it everywhere: allegation of rigged polls (three years' worth!), the swagger, the condescension to Labor during parliamentary proceedings, the royal treatment they are given by the media. They think the election was a mistake. So why come up with new policies? Their old set is still there, ready to go. It's far easier to fire the Silver bullet, jolt the voters out of their Rudd Love with an old-fashioned corruption scandal (or twelve), and take over again while the seat's still warm. But of course this isn't going to happen, and I'm sure Turnbull knows this. When he loses the next election, delivering an increased majority to Rudd, he'll be out anyway. Why not "do the right thing" now and avoid the inevitable messiness? His right wing [i]compadres[/i] couldn't think anything worse of him than they do now. I don't see the point in him staying to cop more of their hatred and smarmy put-downs. They don't regard him as "one of us". He should admit this and return the favour. Appeals from the few friends he has left in the Party for him to stay should rightly be dismissed by Turnbull. They're only thinking of themselves anyway, and their constant bickering (even when it is not directed at Malcolm personally) must be tiring to him (and I'd say [i]for sure[/i] to Lucy). Basically the two or three serious Liberal leadership contenders don't want to step up because they know they'll lose ignominiously in 2010. It's their sheer gutlessness, not wanting to have "greatness" thrust upon them (as it were) that is keeping Malcolm at the top. No-one wants to take over right now. "You go over the top first, Mal, old boy! We'll be right behind you!" I can't even see an "air-clearing" spill working, assuming Turnbull was returned. It would take about 5 minutes for the snipers and assassins of the Right to recommence their Fifth Column activities against him. what's he going to do? Sack them from the Party? Have them disendorsed? After all, Turnbull cast the mould for this, didn't he, with his guerilla tactics against Nelson? He'll know what's in store for him, right enough. He won't want to be seen as the useful idiot, the least worst of the contenders, there principally to protect the others from themselves. Too much has been made of Turnbull's stubbornness. There's a limit to Stubborn. It's called Reality.

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9/08/2009Just Me, I see you agree with Sir Ian. Talking of Joe and his chook, did you see the segment with Warren Brown on [i]Insiders[/i] this morning? When the clip of Julia stuffing a chook was shown, the quick-witted Warren gave us the best quip of the morning – that Malcolm was ‘a self-stuffing chook’. Bilko, ‘Nowhere Man’ is a good descriptor. This morning on [i]Meet the Press[/i] Barnaby Joyce was cheerfully flying in Malcolm’s face telling everyone that he was going to vote down the CPRS legislation no matter what, no matter what Malcolm thinks or wants the party to do. How can Turnbull pull all the conflicted Coalition forces together? It seems to me that even if we heard not a word more about the OzCar debacle, the issue of party disunity would go on debilitating the party. The comments of the folk interviewed on [i]Insiders[/i] at the Perth mint expressed dismay about the lack of party unity. I think that is disturbing Liberals at least as much as the OzCar affair. BB, I hope you’re right that Turnbull makes the move to distance himself from a disunited party that he seems to have little prospect of uniting under him. He has lost control and authority. The public comments by Costello, Nelson, Tuckey and Joyce, and the unspoken feelings of many Libs sitting on tiny margins (there quite a few) are likely to swell into a tsunami of discontent with swirling currents spreading in all directions, that may cause Turnbull to ask himself if it’s worth his while continuing to swim in that maelstrom. He’s got plenty of money and other things to do. It will only be his ambition to be PM and dogged stubbornness (the ‘keep on punching’ his Dad indoctrinated into him) that will keep him in there, but as you say, even that has limits. I believe the Liberal Party would be best served by Turnbull stepping down now before he does it more damage, and a nightwatchman, a less contentious person such as Robb, being appointed leader until after the next election, when a more permanent leader, who could start rebuilding the party, could be appointed. Let’s hope your predictions are correct.

Just Me

9/08/2009[i]I see you agree with Sir Ian.[/i] Always happy to agree with people when they say something sensible. [i]Talking of Joe and his chook, did you see the segment with Warren Brown on Insiders this morning? When the clip of Julia stuffing a chook was shown, the quick-witted Warren gave us the best quip of the morning – that Malcolm was ‘a self-stuffing chook’. [/i] He he he. That's pretty funny. [i]I believe the Liberal Party would be best served by Turnbull stepping down now before he does it more damage, and a nightwatchman, a less contentious person such as Robb, being appointed leader until after the next election, when a more permanent leader, who could start rebuilding the party, could be appointed. [/i] Agree, with the caveat that this current mess in not entirely of Turnbull's making, the rest of the Liberal party have to take a roughly equal amount of the blame. It is easy to blame individual leaders, but they are only as capable and effective as their party allows them to be.
How many umbrellas are there if I have two in my hand but the wind then blows them away?