Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Howard Survives His Own Coup

In the time leading up to the APEC forum in Sydney, during and this week ( after the forum) there has seemingly been much whispering and talk within the Liberal Party about John Howard's leadership future. Nothing surprising there - it has been happening for months - because the polls (by Newspoll, SMH/The Age and internal Liberal polling) have never showed any improvement in either John Howard's, or the Liberal Party's, standing with voters.

This morning, John Howard's leadership was not challenged in a quickly-convened Liberal Party meeting. To do so would mean admitting he should have handed over to Peter Costello last year. And it would hav ebeen politically stupid for the Liberal Party to change now: no new leader could hope to capture the voting public's imagination in such a short time.

Indeed, the most recent polls show a further swing to both Kevin Rudd as preferred Prime Minister, and the APL's vote. Backbenchers and Ministers are in danger of losing their seats, and are paranoid about it: they feel John Howard is leading them to oblivion. Ministers at risk include: John Howard (NSW), Alexander Downer (SA), Brendan Nelson (NSW), Gary Hardgrave (Qld)

What is surprising, is that John Howard says the speculation was all his fault - he claims he asked senior ministers including Alexander Downer, Malcolm Turnbull and Brendan Nelson, to talk about him and his future. Peter Costello wasn't invited.

Mr Howard told a press conference
"... I have never run from a fight before and I don't intend to
do so now."
Ominous words from a leader who seems likely to lose the election, even allowing for some convergence in the polls after the election is formally called. It is reminiscent of a leader who knows he'll die in battle, but is determined to sacrifice his own troops to do it.