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 enigma, Costello 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.