Features Australia

Last chance for the Liberals

4 August 2018

9:00 AM

4 August 2018

9:00 AM

If the Liberals go to the next election with Turnbull as leader, they’ll be handing over the government to a Bill Shorten-led Labor government.

The Liberal’s appalling performance in the Super Saturday by-elections last weekend confirms this.

A deep gloom has settled over the party, its members still outraged by the 2015 back-stabbing of Tony Abbott. Many are on strike, others have left.

Apart from his ineffectual campaigning, the euphoria with which the commentariat greeted the Turnbull coup has never been mirrored in the electorate.

Turnbull became an object of national ridicule when, on losing the 1999 republic referendum, he declared that if John Howard were to be remembered for anything, it would be as the man who broke the heart of the nation.

Having insinuated himself into the governing Liberal party, a raft of prominent ALP politicians then revealed how he’d tried to persuade them to insert him into a safe Labor seat. They probably weren’t impressed by his losing the referendum for the ‘inevitable’ republic nationally, in all states and 72 per cent of electorates.

Nor were voters impressed by his performance as opposition leader, supporting Rudd’s CO2 tax. They certainly didn’t like the way Turnbull and other Abbott ministers secretly plotted to stab their leader in the back so soon after he’d led them to victory.

His allies in the commentariat choose to ignore the clear fact that voter disdain for Turnbull was demonstrated convincingly only a few weeks after the coup. This was in the North Sydney by-election where the party campaigned as if Turnbull himself were the candidate. The result was certainly not the landslide media euphoria had suggested, but a massive 13 per cent swing against the Liberals in a blue ribbon  seat.

And this was before he inexplicably targeted key groups in the Coalition base — elf-funded retirees, Catholics, farmers and so on. Their predicament was rubbed in their faces when they were told that as conservatives, they had nowhere else to go.


They demonstrated what they thought of this provocation in the following 2016 double dissolution election which Turnbull almost lost but for the Victorian government trying to compulsorily unionise the state’s volunteer firefighters.

A reluctant Turnbull had to be dragged out after midnight to address what was to have been the victory rally. Instead of apologising for losing almost all the gains Tony Abbott had won, he inexplicably launched into a whining campaign speech.

On top of all this, voters clearly are not impressed by his LINO (Liberal In Name Only) agenda which seems to them to be little different from Labor’s.

As the Liberal Party is almost alone among similar parties in comparable countries in completely and so undemocratically leaving the choice of the leader only to the federal politicians — the ‘party room’— the question is whether they all want to go over the cliff with Turnbull.

As the election approaches their minds will be concentrated superbly. In the immortal words attributed to the former NSW Labor Premier and firebrand Jack Lang, always back the horse called self-interest — it will be the only one really trying.

So here’s my message to the Liberal party room:

You do have an alternative to going over the cliff. You can both keep your seats and save the country in the election—just draft your proven best campaigner back into the leadership. I refer of course to Tony Abbott.

After all, he’s the one who almost always passes the test old hands say rarely fails in US presidential elections, the ‘beer test’. In Australia, this is in the answer to this question: ‘Who’d you rather have a beer with, Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten or Tony Abbott?’

This means he appeals more to rank-and-file Australians, including many traditional blue-collar Labor voters. If you do draft Tony, you’ll have to accept his agenda. That’s good for you. It means you can pass the ball to him when the commentariat backlash comes, as it will, and in an avalanche.

From my experience in the 1999 referendum, that’ll actually be an advantage.The more the commentariat belittles and ridicules you, the more the rank-and-file will realise you’re not only talking common sense, often saying what they’re thinking.

The point is Tony is enunciating an agenda he believes in, one which will sweep the nation. He’s offering down-to-earth solutions on those issues of most concern to voters, especially electricity prices and getting out of the Paris global warming agreement.

This agenda includes significantly lowering the rate of immigration to a level which our ageing infrastructure can accommodate while continuing to secure our borders. And it certainly doesn’t involve handing over the power to decide who can come into our country and on what terms to the UN, as Turnbull and Julie Bishop  have been  secretly planning with their Global Migration Compact.

In addition, you can be sure that Abbott will act on the debt, with strong measures on defence and he’ll be harvesting the massive water resources of this country. So will you have the good sense — and let’s be frank, the self-interest in your survival — to bring back the 28th Prime Minister?

And by the way, do tell the Nationals to show the backbone they did under the legendary Sir John McEwen, and make sound  leadership a condition of their further participation in the Coalition. That’ll bring things to a head. And don’t worry if you do this just before the election. In fact there could be no better time. The commentariat will scream and throw their usual tantrums.  But they won’t be able to stop the fact that this will have the  maximum impact on the voters. You’ll effectively disarm the commentariat just as Donald Trump does all the time.

From someone who has long been  among the few who have gone against the tide of elite righteousness all the way from the 1999 republic referendum through Brexit and down to Donald Trump, let me assure you of one simple thing.

If you draft Tony the result would be a Coalition landslide. If you don’t, you’ll be history.

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