Has the Costello comeback begun?

The reappearance of Peter Costello over recent weeks has heightened speculation that he will soon take a run at the leadership.  Rumours filtered out today that he now has the numbers in the Liberal party room to roll Malcolm Turnbull if it came to a challenge.

As asserted in an earlier piece on The Political Sword, The Costello enigmaCostello is highly unlikely to accept any front bench position other than leader.  His much publicized dislike of Turnbull makes the acceptance of a position under his leadership virtually out of the question.

Recently, the electronic media, always quick to sniff a coup coming up, has focussed on leadership to the detriment of its reporting on the matters that really count, the GFC, ETS and IR.  Then today in an editorial First leader to the centre wins The Australian declares its hand and gives the Costello bandwagon a hefty push.  [more]

Ready to quickly dismiss the consistently poor results for the Coalition in its own Newspoll, it predicts that whatever leader occupies the so-called ‘centre’ and has the superior economic credentials will win in 2010 no matter what the polls now show.  The editorial insists:  “Despite Labor's dominance in Newspoll, people are sceptical about the party.”    Possum elegantly disassembles the arguments advanced in the editorial in his piece on Pollytics The Oz Political Mirror.   It’s a good read.

But more significant than the editor’s statement of belief, or fervent hope, is the demeaning of Turnbull’s political strategies and the endorsement of the Howard approach: “Mr Howard's legacy to Labor in 2007 was an economy that had never been in better shape at a transfer of power. By the next election, the Howard years will look like a golden age.”  The editorial concludes: “Yet in pussy-footing with internal politics, Mr Turnbull is ignoring his one opportunity -- to compare the reputations of the Labor and Liberal parties on the economy. And Mr Costello knows it, knows the next election will be fought on his issues, the economy and the need for further reform of government. Mr Turnbull must embrace the Howard agenda. If he declines to do it, the party should look for a leader who will. On either side of the political divide, the leader who captures the centre will be prime minister after the next election.”

It’s interesting that Costello is not mentioned by name until near the end – but there he is.  It seems as if the Oz has already picked its winner.  See what you think.

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13/03/2009The insistence of the editor of [i]The Australian[/i] yesterday that Malcolm Turnbull [quote]“embrace the Howard agenda”[/quote] took another twist yesterday when Peter Costello appeared Howard-style for a brisk walk along the streets of Canberra, followed not by a throng of security people but a swarm of reporters eager to catch his every word. Although he said nothing worthwhile reporting, he did demonstrate to Turnbull what embracing the Howard agenda really means. [i]Crikey’s[/i] editorial has a novel take on the Costello comeback at http://www.crikey.com.au/Crikey-Says/20090313-Crikey-says.html [i]Mumble’s[/i] Peter Brent has this to say about Costello, set to the theme “How can you mend a broken heart?” http://www.mumble.com.au/ [quote]“To all those praying and dreaming (again) that Peter Costello will take the Liberal leadership and give Kevin Rudd some what-for: you will be disappointed (again). As you were in November 2007 and September 2008. It is not yet time. Peter will not take the job while the opposition trails so much in opinion polls. And not 18 months before an election. Have you not been paying attention? He is determined not to end public life as a failed opposition leader (as he certainly would have if he'd taken the job immediately after the election). Perhaps this time next year, if, say, the polls indicate Liberal leader Hockey is a lovely guy but is not 'cutting through', but voting intentions are competitive. Then ... perhaps. But right now Peter is only flirting. He knows what he's doing to you but he doesn't care; he will break your heart again.”[/quote]

Rx

14/03/2009Is there a more boring bugger in all of politics? This "story" about Costello's leadership speculation is like Chinese water torture. The Great Man takes a walk around a building - drip! The Oracle spouts forth on voluntary student unionism - drip! The IR extremist says "hang tough" - drip! The Enigmatic One refuses to "speculate about his future" - drip! The Hammockmeister retires to the backbench to "reflect" - drip! For mine, he's got no credibility as a political challenger. He'd be a joke as a party leader, and - this is the worrying part - a disaster as Prime Minister. We would not need or benefit from a gutless, lazy, petulant, childish reactionary "leading" the country. Imagine if by some awful miracle he did get to be PM. He'd go to pieces at the first hint of adversity, then what? Retire to a hammock to sulk and "reflect" on his options? That's not Prime Ministerial material! The Liberals should wake up to themselves.

janice

14/03/2009I think Costello has appointed himself Defender of Neo-conservatism. He hangs around on the backbench in order to undermine and destroy any man from the middle ground who dares try and remake the party and purge it of the far right ideology that consumed it for more than a decade. He and his supporters will continue this 'seek and destroy' mission for as long as it takes the Liberal party to find a strong leader they are prepared to support totally. Truffles tried and seems to be failing miserably mainly because his support base is too weak.

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14/03/2009Rx and janice, there must be a strong body of opinion now that Costello should never be given leadership. His unwillingness to challenging Howard, his rejection of post-election offers, and his contemporary petulant self-serving and destructive behaviour that no one in the party seems to be prepared to seriously challenge, should disqualify him for ever. He continue to be, to use Joe Hockey's words 'a weapon of mass distraction'. The Liberals are in a parlous leadership situation. Turnbull is not 'cutting through' despite his declaration at today's Liberal Party Federal Council meeting that he 'is the man to lead Australia'. His polling to date is very little better than Nelson's was. His highest score is in self-confidence and egoism. Unless ratings improve, how long can he hang on? Despite being rated higher than Turnbull in the preferred PM stakes, Costello would be a desperate choice because of all that has been said about him, as well as his patent lack of leadership qualities. So who's left? Julie Bishop - No. Andrew Robb - No. Tony Abbott - heaven forbid. Joe Hockey - maybe. He lacks many needed attributes, but don't be astonished if Costello finally knocks off Turnbull and then walks away, that Joe does a Stephen Bradbury.

Just Me

15/03/2009It's official. Turnbull is a dead man walking. http://www.smh.com.au/national/turnbull-protests-hes-truly-liberal-20090314-8yec.html
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