Sunday, February 22, 2009

Costello A Right-Wing Rallying Point

Peter Costello is loving the attention he's getting - well, he loves the media attention, and cannot hold back the trademark smirk whenever he's interviewed. He won't have liked the open letter from former Liberal Party leader, John Hewson. (Hewson lost the 1993 election to Paul Keating)
The letter is at .

Costello's real problems are:
  • He's seen by many voters as having missed his chances by about 5 years. (while John Howard was Prime Minister, he did not challenge, even when it became obvious that voter support for Howard was declining)
  • While John Howard was PM, Howard was the rallying point for all far-Right wing members of the Liberal Party; Howard exercised considerable control, and would send henchman Senator Bill Heffernan to see anyone who looked like breaking rank. A good dose of raised voice, abusive language and archetypal workplace bullying from Heffernan would see faltering members fall into line. Costello was seen as more centre-right, and became a rallying point for the 'small-l'-liberals and centrists within the party. They saw him as "less bad" than Howard.
  • Now that Howard is gone, and the Liberal-led Opposition has a ' l '-liberal leader, Costello has become the rallying point of the far-Right. Costello was never a bleeding-heart Liberal: indeed, he wanted to make WorkChoices even more extreme than Howard, but the far-Right loved Howard.
  • Costello is losing, or has lost, relevence. He has chosen not to be a member of the Opposition front bench. Voters might well see him as just a showman for the media; all smirk and raised arms, but not a viable leader.
John Hewson might well be right when he says, in his open letter:
You have only ever had a minimal support base and that base has been further
and terminally eroded by your disloyalty, antics and shenanigans of the last
year or so. ... the best you can now do to help our chances is to leave.

If Costello goes, the problem for the far-Right will be to find someone, anyone, to hoist their flag of tarnished policies. Tarnished policies + no leader = no power!