A day ago, it looked as if Malcolm Turnbull could survive at least long enough to implement his deal with Labor, a deal that would deliver a drastically weakened emissions trading scheme with massive overcompensation of every possible big business interest. It would be marvellous to report that a popular uprising against rent-seeking lobby groups changed all this. But, in fact, Turnbull’s leadership has been rendered untenable by a Liberal Party base, and commentariat, that has entered a state of collective insanity in which the most absurd conspiracy theories are taken as a starting point for reasoning. Over time on this blog, I’ve seen even seemingly sensible commenters of a libertarian or conservative cast of mind succumb to this tribalist lunacy. The handful who have resisted (hi, Tokyo Tom) are increasingly regarded as “beyond the pale”.
From delusional beliefs on climate science follow equally delusional beliefs on political strategy, symbolised by the 37 votes for a Kevin Andrews spill yesterday and by the apparent certainty that, assuming Turnbull holds his ground, a majority of Liberals will vote for the delusionist candidate, Tony Abbott
Amazingly, even the editorialist at the Oz, whose columnists have uniformly promoted delusional conspiracy theories recognises the hopelessness of such a stance. as the Oz says
In truth, there is nowhere for Coalition members to go on this issue, other than to support the amended and improved bill and claim as their work the concessions they have wrung from the government. The introduction of a cap-and-trade ETS has been bipartisan policy for more than two years and it is supreme folly for rebels within the Liberals to believe they can go to an election as the destroyers, rather than the enablers, of such a scheme.
There may be room for the Nationals to argue against an ETS in the bush, but it is politically naive to think that voters in the inner-city areas of Melbourne and Sydney would welcome such regressive policies from their MPs. How exactly would Mr Abbott, for example, propose campaigning on this issue in seats such as North Sydney and Wentworth, where Liberal voters are determined to see action on climate change? Having a bob each way on the issue will not go down well with voters who have followed the debate and who expect, as Mr Turnbull says, responsible political parties to take responsible action
There is no reasoning with lunatics, and my attempts to do so have gone nowhere. At this point, we just have to hope that they will remain, as they are at present, in the minority, and that they can be kept as far as possible from political power.
There’s no guarantee that sanity will prevail. As the conman in Huckleberry Finn says ‘Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” But, as I recall, he ends up tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.