So it was 48-35 for the Black Hand gang and its various hangers-on in today’s Liberal Party leadership spill. Mr. Turnbull might be just about the most incompetent politician ever when it comes to choosing policies that appeal to his supporters and his party’s base and then defending them in the court of public opinion. But put Malcolm into the Machiavellian world of provoking or fighting off leadership spills and the man comes into his own. He can white-ant and leak and undermine a first-term PM who won a huge majority better than anyone.
Make him the target of others who might want his leader’s mantle and a prodigious rat cunning comes into play. It was a tactical move of immense intelligence to vacate the leadership at the start of today’s party room meeting, and then force a vote of MPs a week or so before the challengers were ready. You can expect the Prime Minister’s office to go into overdrive undermining the naysayers from today forward too, by which I mean even more than usual for those outside his Black Hand inner circle.
Hence, give credit where credit is due. This was a nice move by Malcolm Turnbull to strike against Peter Dutton a few days before he was ready to force a spill. That said, it’s hard to see how a 13-vote win – meaning the dissenters need only sway 7 more MPs – can provide Malcolm with any comfort, not even when he gets home. Lucy must be livid.
You’d be a brave person to bet he’s anything other than a dead man walking. Well, let me revise that claim. You see Malcolm could take the pseudo advice of that great pundit Peter van Onselen (he who said Trump would lose; the Brexit vote would fail; Julia Gillard would be a great PM and role model for his daughter; and that Turnbull would be a gifted and wonderful PM – in other words, the man whose every prediction is wrong as wrong can be). PVO notes that Turnbull could, and just maybe should, run off to the Governor-General and call an election. That would stop any future leadership challenge. God knows, Malcolm is just possibly vindicative and vituperative enough to do that, and then watch as the Coalition is absolutely smashed. Sure, he’d still be tossed out as PM and the Liberal Party would be annihilated, but he’d certainly get the satisfaction of showing those damned conservatives what they get for trifling with the gift to the world he imagines himself to be.
Nah, I don’t buy that even Turnbull would do that — though Lord knows, van Onselen has to be correct about something at some point.
At any rate, assuming Turnbull doesn’t opt to take the whole party down with him, call it the PVO option, it is hard to see how he can survive another five or six weeks. The bad polls will keep coming. At some point even the 50-odd brain-dead Liberal MPs will realise they can no longer stick with Mssrs Turnbull, Pyne, Birmingham et al.
To speed up this necessary collapse, how about some of those in Cabinet and the outer ministry resigning and going to the backbench, as Dutton has done? Otherwise aren’t they just hypocrites? Come on, you conservatives who voted for Dutton. We have a very good idea who you are. Have some self-respect, exhibit a bit of principle and go to the backbench now.
You’ll be speeding Malcolm’s end. Can’t aim for better than that.