The case for a split

Amid the general chaos of the Liberal Party, the idea of a split has turned from fantasy to serious possibility. If Joe Hockey does the decent thing, and doesn’t run against Turnbull, it now seems quite likely that Turnbull would prevail against the unelectable Abbott and the still less electable Andrews. But that might easily provoke some rightwingers to Bolt from the party, more on grounds of collective insanity than any kind of calculation.

And, if Turnbull loses, there are increasingly* credible suggestions he might move to the cross-benches and stay on, perhaps attracting some followers. The appeal for moderate Liberals would not be that such a party would have good long-term prospects but that they are multiply doomed if they stay with the sinking ship. First, most moderates are in marginal urban seats that are likely to be lost. Second, those that survive will have no prospects for advancement in a regime where Hockey (while he lasts) is the puppet of Minchin and Abbott. And finally, advancement is of little use in a party that looks set to be out of office for a decade or so. For those who believe in the necessity of tackling climate change, and can see the difference between Turnbull’s willingness to take a stand and the prevarication and vacillation of Hockey and Abbott, a third party might be the shot. If they somehow survive the election, the Libs would be forced to take them back sooner or later, on their own terms.

* Apologies for paywalled link

50 thoughts on “The case for a split

  1. Well, Chris Warren, thanks for the adhominem, but no thanks, too early in the day.
    I figure the people who I found weirdest in my tutes were eastern suburbs types who were majoring in just the subject you describe; the rest of us were obviously just dimwit lefties and let know of it in no uncertain terms.
    Btw, you still haven’t answered my question as to that ultimate Eastern suburbs flying squad derivatives tute clone, Dutton!
    As to Mephisto and my soul, it was “a pocketful of mumbles” as described in the Simon and Garfunkle epic, “The Boxer”.

  2. Wheeeeeeee!
    Abbott wins 42-41.
    Apparently held a secret ballot on the ETS straight afterward, which went 55-29 against passing it.

  3. Tony “The Rabbit” Abbott heralds a true Catholic party for Australia. Welcome back, guys!
    No women’s right to decide on abortion, no euthanasia, no republic, no sorry, Intelligent Design in public school biology classes, no stem cell research, chaplains in public schools, no ETS at all because as we all know those climate scientists are a lying bunch of drongos, a 100 years of drought relief for farmers because of the drought, no Medicare (remember the 70’s Liberal conservatives?), keep women at home looking after babies by the truckload.

    The closeness of the vote, and the fact that Tony “The Rabbit” Abbott only just beat Malcolm “Bounty” Turnbull due to a probably deliberately informal vote, is the best possible outcome for the Labor government, if they couldn’t get the ETS passed before Copenhagen.

    Double Dissolution, roll on.

  4. @Jennie L
    Isn’t it interesting that the person who didn’t manage to vote on the leadership still managed to vote on the ETS? 42 + 41 = 83; 55 + 29 = 84. A bit of ol’ fashioned signalling in the party room, perhaps?

  5. @ Donald Oats: Yes, that is interesting. Because the second was a secret ballot, I guess we’ll never know who it was unless they choose to reveal themselves.

  6. Just to be a little bit more accurate…

    The circular flow can balance by; increased debt, increased population, or increased economic favours from outside the economy.

    In all cases, this is merely patching up the underlying problem, and it breaks down in the long-run.

  7. “Double Dissolution, roll on.”

    Yeah Don, bring it on, an election based on the eTs.

    It could be that not just the Libs are divided 50/50 but the whole community. It took 2 goes to get the gsT past the electorate and maybe the electorate might not be so gullible this time around. It will be an interesting election. Plenty of ammo to sh*t scare the electorate in Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 that is now before the Senate.

    Regardless of the final outcome re the eTs, it is good to see democracy at work.

  8. Abbott … What a choice. Is this bad news?

    It feels like bad news. It’s a disaster as far as the Govt’s ETS is/was concerned, but that was such a flawed model that it is at least potentially good that it is gone. (It was better than nothing, but “nothing” is only the only alternative if the cynics manage to manouevre us into ongoing “nothing”.)

    The potential for good to come out of the elevation of Abbbott? I see 3 possibilities:
    – The Govt will say ‘this is a rabble, now unadorned with people of any good intent or willingness to negotiate. We can offer no more to their supporters than we have already offered. We are now going to put our political capital behind a better model and fight for it.”

    – The promotion of Abbott will cause great consternation – great support amongst some, but great concern generally. He will go hard, offend many, and crash. The election will be about climate change and our responsibility to try to address it, and will give the Govt a clear mandate – and a Senate majority that supports effective action.

    – Many people will leave the Liberal Party, unable to reconcile their own belief in the need to take action with the now clamped on party line: “nothing should be done that changes our economy”, regardless of long-term costs and impacts. These people will become a strong force able to explain to any conservatives of good will that this must be done.

    But for today, I can only shake my head at their decision to go with Abbott.

  9. I do wonder if we’ll ever see a genuine bipartisan commitment to tackling climate change. That none of the Liberals appears to think a stronger CPRS a good move, only a weaker one, and none feel strongly enough to consider crossing the floor to vote for such a thing, only to vote against, makes me think that even those Liberals who advocate action on climate are motivated by electability not real concern about the issue itself.

    Will the economic impacts such as failure of SE Australian agriculture to ever recover it’s former glory merely lead to more determined efforts to retain Coal export income as some kind of buffer? Every bit of policy seems to revolve around doing the least we can get away with and to putting off doing anything fundamental about reliance on fossil fuels – as baseload power or as export income.

  10. What a good laugh. Abbott! One vote! It’s all class! What chance has this rabble have of staying on message and out of trouble between now and election time (I still reckon the weekend after the footy finals)? None. Absolutely none. My cousin, who is proudly of the paleolithic, head-in-the-sand right, thinks it’s great. He reckons he has some connections to Abbott and can scam a job out of it, which is about the only good thing to come out of it I can see.

    I reckon Turnbull can drag about 20 members into a new party. By Christmas.

  11. Paradoxically, the narrow result might reduce the prospects for a new party. There must be several members who only voted for Abbott to teach Turnbull a lesson for his divisive behaviour. That means the party is not irredemably denialist; it weakens Abbott’s mandate to obstruct the ETS; and it means that a resignation by Turnbull is more likely to be perceived as petulant rather than principled.

  12. This is fabulous news for those of us who wanted something better than the Rudd/Wong polluter-porkbarrell.

    Now the way forward lies in the ALP negotiating a deal with the Greens that just two people out of Xenophon, Humphreys and the retiring Troeth can accept.

    That sounds a lot more plausible.

  13. I don’t see a split, but i do see a lonnng time in the wilderness as local members become entrenched with their electorates. And that will be the real damage. I don’t see a rise of the greens as labor vacates the left to take over the right, which would be the other scenario.

  14. Turnbull demonstrated significant skill in managing to hold so many people with him in light of the crumbling support for Ian “Mumbles” McFarlane and his negotiated scheme.

    He will be back.

    As for Tony “The Rabbit” Abbott, I think an election campaign centred upon his credentials will be ruinous for the Liberal party. Bring it on. Kevin ’10!

  15. In general you get splits when rats desert a sinking ship.

    In this case, the rats have boarded a sinking ship.

    I think the moderates will stay, recruit, and defend their perspective.

  16. Fingers X’d.
    “In this case the rats have boarded a sinking ship”.
    As for the rest of us, it looks like “there will be no rest for the wicked”, after all,as to immediate and clean reform of a party so full of inward back ward looking people.

  17. Abbott is a veritable one-man rabble.

    Witness his blatherings tonight about his evidently proud ability (in his view) to flirt with Julia Gillard! The depth of self-deception, vanity and sexist contempt thus demonstrated was staggering. He’s beyond parody. And then the rest on the7.30 Report. Cliche upon cliche of the rah-rah Hooray Henry calibre of political commentary of Downer at his best.

    Things are looking up finally. This is going to be a real treat. I’m now grinning from ear to ear!

  18. @Philomena

    More punch drunk self-love? I wonder who was sending them the ‘we’re right behind you’ emails? The email campaign certainly worked. Along with the hacking CRU stunt, their extreme hubris suggests they think they are riding atop of the crest of a populist ground-swell.

  19. @Philomena
    Yes Philo – the man (Abbott) is a legend in his own lunchtime. I hope people realise that a vote for Abbott is a vote for workchoices (heavy duty version) again.

  20. By the way, what is the definition of a moderate liberal? Somebody that passes all of Labor’s (and the Greens’) welfare state measures while maintaining the sweet illusion of multi-party democracy?

  21. I don’t think this is going to be good for Australia. I can’t believe the Liberals can deliver any credible policy on climate change when the leader has made it clear he thinks the whole issue is hot air and that no matter how serious the future costs and consequences they can’t be reason to pay anything avoid them.

    What will fill “this space” if no price signal is introduced to make the shift to low emissions the economically logical choice? Two Liberals did cross the floor – I didn’t think any would – and I’m glad to know that the party is not totally devoid of people with real concern over the issue but two isn’t enough. Not even an issue of this magnitude, that looks almost certain to cause our nation and the world economy great future harm can bring about a bipartisan approach.

    Not that Labor is that credible; CCS remains the cornerstone technology intended to provide the ‘fix’ and I can’t see how it can actually deliver anything beyond an excuse to keep the coal fires burning. Note that Tony Burke made it clear at the Press Club that NSW is firmly wedded to a coal fired future. Sigh.

  22. @Ken
    Good points Ken, even though Im not always on side with price signals created by governments, no matter how well the pice signal terminology fits with free marketers (sometimes its better to use blunt force legislation) but Im pleased you made the comment re two crossing the floor.

    Two is better than a room full of scared rabbits after Abbott takes control, and my guess is its more of the same, – a party full of controlled scared rabbitts too scared to jump with the spotlight on them, (a la Howard control). That party tends, the way it is now, to overcontrol and stifle real debate. Robotic followers.

  23. @Sea-bass

    By the way, what is the definition of a moderate liberal?

    One that isn’t a reactionary fruit loop? One who deems observable reality as not only pertinent to discussion but the basis on which, along with a passing concern for human wellbeing, inferences about policy should be made? One that, accordingly, pays only lipservice to tribal dogma?

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