The Member for Wentworth’s last huzzah

Let’s try and be fair and reasonable for just a moment. The Member for Wentworth is a pretty damned talented individual. Despite his predilection for despotism and bloody-mindedness, and his tendency to carp in Opposition, I think that most people would agree that Malcolm Bligh Turnbull had the capacity to make a significant and lasting contribution to public life in this country. With the announcement of his resignation today, however, all that seems to lie purely in the realm of small-l liberal fantasy about “what might have been”.

When the unifying influence of John Howard disappeared from public life in November 2007, the division inherent within the Liberal/National Coalition was laid bare for all to see. The demands of government are quite different to the demands of Opposition. Without the binding force of an electorally successful leader, the underlying rabble re-emerged. Turnbull’s own aborted stint as Opposition Leader was troubled, but hardly without merit. He was crushed between the popularity of a competent political operator in Kevin Rudd, freshly ensconced in government, and a party riven brutally along ideological lines. He needed an issue that he could run with; to nail his colours to the mast. Perhaps unwisely – he decided that issue was the government’s ETS. This invited those demanding action on climate change to view the Opposition Leader as something of a flawed hero. Those favouring inaction viewed this only as the final straw.

The closeness of the ensuing leadership ballot that deposed Turnbull and elevated Abbott indicates the extent of the Coalition’s political disintegration. If Turnbull had not nominated for the leadership, it seems almost certain that Joe Hockey, his small-l liberal compadre, would have won the ballot. As it happens, he nominated, splitting the small-l liberal vote and defeating his popular colleague. Turnbull then lost the run-off ballot to Abbott by a single vote.

With his opponent still clinging doggedly to his position on the ETS months after the fact, Abbott evidently felt that he could not allow his adversary to return to the front bench, even when a plum opportunity emerged for a reshuffle last week.

It seems that things could so easily have been different for Malcolm. The times, as it happens, did not suit him.

2 thoughts on “The Member for Wentworth’s last huzzah

  1. It might be best if you tell me immediately whether you’ll let my comment stand.
    It amazes me how the laborites construe that I’m conservative while your lot seem to believe me a Pinko.
    I’m beginning to believe both your shows orbit out somewhere past Betelgeuse.

    But to continue and to quote you –
    “It seems that things could so easily have been different for Malcolm. The times, as it happens, did not suit him.”

    I happen believe the times do suit him.

    I reckon he’ll be in the backblocks causing immense grief if you fail to regard what he wants.

    But its no use you asking me what he wants.

    His sort only bargain with his own sort.

    I’m only a dimwit and can only provide amateur advice – you know: the grassroots babble –

    But from where I’m standing Mr Turnbull could probably coerce or buy enough faux progressives, young conservatives and turncoat laborites to make Silvio Berlusconi look like the manager of a darts club.

    But then I’m used to Qld politics.

    Perhaps you do things better down south?

  2. Well I don’t really think anybody could do Silvio quite like Silvio. Personally, I would actually prefer it if Turnbull was involved in public life in some respect, because I do think he is a talented individual. On the other hand, I almost certainly wouldn’t vote for him.

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