Friday, November 27, 2009

'The Crew Are Revolting, Sir'

So said Fletcher Christian to Captain Bligh, when Christian led the mutiny on HMS Bounty. (at least that's the story") They might well have been spoken by Liberal Senator Nick Minchin to Malcolm Turnbull yesterday. Seven Liberals resigned form the Shadow Ministry, including: Nick Minchin, Tony Abbott, Sophie Mirabella, Tony Smith, and Senators Eric Abetz, Mitch Fifield, Mathias Cormann and Brett Mason.

It is a mass desertion of their leader, and a treacherous act of disloyalty on their part. The resignations came after a motion to declare the leadership vacant was lost, meaning most of the party effectively voted to keep Mr Turnbull as leader.

Turnbull's shortcomings have included:
  • being too 'small-l' liberal, as in the mould of the Liberal Party created by (later, Sir) Robert Menzies. He is, therefore not part of the extreme right wing of the party.
  • his wealth is recent - not 'old money'
  • not being from Melbourne's rich establishment
  • not having a Parliamentary henchman to bully dissenters in his party. John Howard used Senator Bill Heffernan and, occasionally, Wilson 'Ironbar' Tuckey.
There will almost certainly be a leadership spill on Monday. Malcolm Turnbull has indicated he will not stand aside, at least for today. Number-crunching on the week-end might indicate resignation is better than the alternative. Tony Abbott has indicated he might stand. Senior party members are urging a Joe Hockey-Peter Dutton ticket. As an aside, having Peter Dutton as the Deputy would almost certainly force the renegade Queensland branch to find him a safe seat.

Neither Abbott, nor Hockey, will be able to unite the Liberal Party. The only hope of winning an election in the next 10 years is if the Liberal Party dis-endorses all those involved in the current stupidity, disloyalty, and conspiring to have the extremist right wing take over the Federal Liberal Party. They should start with those who have publicly contradicted, belittled, undermined, resigned from Shadow Ministries. Until they do, the Liberal Party will remain in disarray, and will not be a viable, strong Opposition, let alone an alternative government.