Flat White

Turnbull’s coup delusion – they weren’t afraid that I would lose, but I would win

7 March 2019

11:17 PM

7 March 2019

11:17 PM

Forget about Julie Bishop and her “I could have won the election” lines from Sunday.

In an infinitely more damaging claim to Prime Minister Scott Morrison Malcolm Turnbull has insisted he would have triumphed in a poll – but was cut down by envious colleagues before he could claim his victory.

Speaking exclusively to The Spectator Australia publisher Andrew Neil, a former editor of The Economist and The Sunday Times as well as a founder of Sky TV’s pioneering services in the UK, the former prime minister claimed he was a victim of a “form of madness” – and that the Coalition, under Scott Morrison, “is in a worse position” against Labor at the forthcoming poll.

In a move certain to rip leadership tensions in the government wide open yet again, Mr Turnbull told Mr Neil on BBC Television’s Politics Live “I was certainly voted out by my partyroom, fairly narrowly, but I think that said more about the internal politics of the Liberal party than the electorate.”

The dumped prime minister dug in against claims the Coalition was destined to fall short in this year’s election.

“At the time of the coup in August we were level pegging on the public polls with the opposition and we were four points ahead on the polling in the marginal seats.

“The government was in an absolute, competitive, winnable position.”

Mr Turnbull accused opponents in the party and media he alleged orchestrated last year’s spill of “madness”.

“There are many people who would say – and this is if you views this subjectively – but I think, as I said at the time, this was essentially a form of madness that occurred, whipped up internally and also amplified by voices in the media.”

The former PM accused his enemies of sacrificing victory at the election in order to destroy his leadership.

“You could argue that their concern was not that I would lose the election, but rather that I would win it because there was no question that the government’s position … is much less favourable than it was back in August.”

Against arguments from Mr Neil his claims “your own party didn’t want to you win the next election” were not credible, Mr Turnbull insisted “You’ve only got to look at the facts.”

“We had essentially drawn equal, even, and in our own our polling, in the marginal seats, which are obviously the only ones that matter, in terms of determining government, we were ahead,” he said, pouring scorn on his successor Scott Morrison.

“Normally what you do when you replace a leader is you replace the unpopular person who’s fate is, you know, who’s fate is sealed, with somebody who’s much more popular and gives you a chance of winning,” Mr Turnbull continued. “That was not what happened in August.

“The party, on any of the objective indic…, you know, indications, polling, is in a worse position than it was in August, you know, you can’t deny that, that’s fact.”

Mr Turnbull defiantly stated his toppling had been incomprehensible.

“This is why, when you talk to Australian observers and commentators, why people can’t understand it.”

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