Sunday, December 09, 2007

Libs a Half-Nelson Basket Case

As John Howard enjoys his new-found, but unwanted, leisure time, the Federal Liberal Party is in leadership turmoil. It has been revealed that Malcolm Turnbull was unhappy about the leadership election, with now two members who have since lost their seats voting, and two senators whose planes were delayed not allowed to vote. Brendan Nelson won the leadership by just three votes.

The reality is that with John Howard gone, and Peter Costello declining, there is a lack of clear leadership within the Liberal Party - hence the divided vote. One of the consequences of John Howard's dominance and "strong leadership" is that, apart from the anointment on Peter Costello, the leadership skills of other members was suppressed and its development stopped.

While both men are aspirational leaders, neither yet has the charisma AND political skills to lead the Liberal Party to a future victory. It is unlikely that Brendan Nelson has the ability to charm teh electorate to lead the Liberal Party to an election win in the foreseeable future; and Malcolm Turnbull is seen as too ill-disciplined and prone to "shoot his mouth off". The Federal Liberal Party has similar leadership woes to those that Labor had after Paul Keating lost, and left.

There are not many leadership options yet, apart from Brendan Nelson or Malcolm Turnbull. We might well have the simmering divisions can that turn a political party into a "basket case". That is something that NSW State Party Director Geoff Selig warned against, but probably can't yet stop.