Lib/LNP leadership schadenfreude thread

When I posted on the Liberal leadership, I assumed that the right wing of the Liberal party was organized enough to persuade Abbott to go quietly and to install Bishop rather than Turnbull to replace him. Neither assumption looks safe now, and my overestimation of LNP organizational capacities has been shown up by the fiasco in Queensland. So, I’ll sit back and enjoy the fun, leaving you to offer whatever thoughts you have on the topic, or on related issues.

146 thoughts on “Lib/LNP leadership schadenfreude thread

  1. @John Quiggin

    Ok, I will stick to topic but does discussing personality politics really achieve anything in understanding the fundamentals of our politics and economics?

    Yes, I feel great schadenfreude in Tony’s discomfiture. Will the next Liberal leader (if there is one) make any real difference? I would predict not. Would Bill Shorten make any real difference if he and Labor got up next election? I would predict not.

    But there is a Liberal leadership spill on due on Tuesday it seems.

    “Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss.” – The Who.

  2. Righto. The spill is on. Great for a weekend and more of media watching.

    The leadership of the Liberal Party is merely symptomatic of the dawn of the collapse of neoliberalism. The citizens have responded in Vic., SA., and now Qld., by saying ‘we don’t want it. We don’t like it, sir.’ The whole situation reminds me of a scene from Men in Black, I or II, in which Will Smith, on being told that there ‘was no time’ for lubricant before anal probing, stood upright and replied ‘whoa, there’s always time for lubricant’. The Libs forgot about the need for lubricant before the king hit of the budget. Maybe that’s the probe with the dominance of private school education; no finesse.

    I can’t look away. It would be mere morbid fascination if it also weren’t a major turning point. We are undoubtedly watching a parochial rejection of austerity politics, as we have witnessed them, in Europe and the UK. The project of neoliberalism, in which we have been urged to let the markets rip, has gone belly up.

    That’s why the Libs are at sixes and sevens. They’re too late.The Thatcherite party is over. They’ve missed out on the big money. Losers.

  3. Tim Macknay

    A courageous prediction, as Sir Humphrey might say, given the current volatility in politics.

    I know what you mean here but I regard the claim as misleading. The volatility in Federal politics was caused largely by an ALP that had lost sight of its purpose and had instead outsourced its purpose to the Murdoch Press — so much so that it was possible for the LNP between 2009 and 2013 to have ‘a unity ticket’ on everything except climate policy and pretend that they were running on ‘adult government’ as opposed to ‘dysfunction’.

    The continual cycling of Rudd and Gillard merely lent weight to that account, bolstered daily in the Murdoch organs and those following them.

    In QLD the public consistently voted against privatising regimes, so that’s not volatile but consistent voting. Federally, the assaults on Medicare and schools and the NDIS by a regime that promised not to cut them have undermined their support disastrously, so again, we see consistency.

  4. I watched Mr Abbot’s announcement and am still smiling at his claim of having “a strong plan”. Has he borrowed it from Campbell.? Will he share it with the public (or back bench)? Is it related to a cunning one? Can Qld’ers stomch another “strong” election campaign?

  5. Is there a reason that pollsters don’t ask people straight out whether they want the Liberal party to dump Abbott? I know they ask poll respondents who they would vote for under different leadership scenarios, but (as far as I know) never directly about a spill, leaving room for people to claim that voters really want stability.

    Do people actually think to themselves, “I’d rather have Turnbull or Bishop as leader, but I don’t think they should dump Abbott because I want stability” as Abbott’s defenders in the media claim? That sort of position doesn’t make much sense to me, any more than it makes sense to say “I think their policies are terrible but I don’t think they should change them because…stability”.

    And is there a reason that the ABC thinks that viewers are interested in Chris Uhlmann’s amateur opinions about economic policy? If he doesn’t have any insight to offer as a political reporter he shouldn’t be on the screen.

  6. And is there a reason that the ABC thinks that viewers are interested in Chris Uhlmann’s amateur opinions about economic policy? If he doesn’t have any insight to offer as a political reporter he shouldn’t be on the screen.

    I don’t know why, but Chris Uhlmann’s reporting really annoys me.

  7. There’s lots of credible analysis getting about, I think everyone is correct . Its amazing – I reckon Tony has 8 – 10 different big ,near intractable, problems. Any one of these would be very serious on its own. He might survive this spill but its over for him soon. I fear we may end up with Turnbull and his watered down Liberal world, too diluted to inspire revolution so that we stay on bi-partisan planet Neo- Con. Turnbull will turn down the heat so we remain in the pot. Abbotts mob are useful in that they have inadvertently laid bare their devious plan.

  8. My prediction: the WA LNP members have cooked up a plan to see their state’s interests better represented than the rest of Australia. They want a Julie Bishop PM ticket, and Christopher Pyne as Deputy PM, a promotion for doing the numbers for the WA mob. Turnbull will try to muscle in on it, ending up either pushing Pyne out of contention, or getting the job of Treasurer.

    My reading of the tea leaves is that while the Qld mob want their man in play, WA with help of SA’s Christopher Pyne, will convince the other LNP members to block Qld’s ambitions. Perhaps Turnbull will pull a rabbit out of the hat and become PM, but I put his chances a little below Bishop.

    If the spill motion isn’t put in play, the comments from several Federal LNP members point to a less than spectacular sense of Team Australia, and so it will bubble along. If the spill is done and Tony Abbott survives, he won’t last long unless it is by a large majority that he is retained.

    The great thing about speculating is watching to see how spectacularly wrong you are…

  9. when are politicians going to offer to make intelligent rather than tough decisions. Decisions can be tough to make the question is whether they are intelligent and informed.

  10. @Donald Oats

    I confess to disinterest. I just don’t care what they do to themselves.

    Having said that:

    1. Abbott will remain PM until the next election.

    2. When you say “the Qld mob want their man in play”, who is that Qld person?

  11. The reason Abbott will not be removed is that those pushing for his removal are basing their argument on the premise that he is not extreme enough.

    I doubt this country is capable of lurching even further to the right than we already are.

  12. @Tim Macknay

    I suppose I am just wondering what is ‘volatile in politics these days’.

    Yes, it seems the two-term rule is no longer as impressive as it once seemed and I suppose one could describe that as relative volatility, but this tends to reduce electoral politics to something a bit like the weather. In the ‘popular’ media the idea of ‘volatility’ is presented as a challenge to stable governance because governments are being denied scope to carry through ‘reforms’ by a presumably fickle and arbitrary electorate.

  13. @John Brookes

    I don’t know why, but Chris Uhlmann’s reporting really annoys me.

    They all irritate me – policy analysis has been absent for years if not decades with the emphasis on personality.

  14. @Fran Barlow

    I think you are correct in perceiving that consistency underlies volatility. The political duopoly are consistently advancing bad policies and the public are consistently seeking to avoid these bad policies being implemented. One needs to ask why this is happening. What is going on in politics and economics to generate these patterns? But that is OT for this thread.

    It is interesting to note that rapidly changing governments and coincidently rapidly changing leaders is the most rational action in the circumstances. It is a delaying action. It says “We cannot vote for the policies we want because no major party will advance such policies. Therefore we vote against everything they advance by changing government as often as possible and rapidly turning against leaders too.” In this manner, the business of neocon government “reform”, which has become inimical to the interests of ordinary people, is slowed down as much as possible. The good remnants of the status quo are thus retained as long as possible.

  15. WTF is Greg Sheridan talking about?

    He writes today that there is “a crisis of governance and affecting centre-right parties”. Nope Greg, it is far right parties that are being affected.

    Then he claims that Western government need to undertake “fiscal consolidation”. What is fiscal consolidation?

    He blames the decline in religion and yet lol he is part of this ‘decline’ with his free-market attitude to religion. He once said on an ABC Compass program with Geraldine Doogue that he changed churches because he didn’t like what the minister at his usual church was preaching and said that was the ‘free-market providing freedom of religion.

    Yay freedom and liberty but not for Christianity. How self-serving and neo-libral is that?

    He thinks that “business” has suffered a decline in “authority” and that now being pro-business is not being seen as being pro the economy. I don’t think so, surely the problem is that big business is being revealed as corrupt, stupid and lazy (and that in fact corporations want to be our “governments” and small business is waking up that they are not part of the real ‘business’.

    Greg does recognize that social media – electronic graffiti? – would have derailed Howard if it worked back then the way it is working now.

    Then the fool – pity da’ fool as Mr T would say – starts talking about dynamics!!!

    He writes “these destructive dynamics look as though they are here to stay. The question is whether or how long it will take us to domesticate them into a new equilibrium, a new stability, or whether, as has happening to many nations in history, we are set up for prolonged, damaging instability.”

    Oh dear, does anyone think he understands dynamical systems and has a theory about how one “domesticates them into a new equilibrium”. Oh dear. What a doofus.

  16. Yes, the MSM seems obsessed with politics and personality, rather than policy. We have a parliamentary system that is treated as presedential, Abbott, and many voters, think that he was elected to office, he wasn’t.

    Real ‘Schadenfreude’ requires some detachment, unfortunately we’re all affected by the Canberra circus.

  17. @Julie Thomas

    I agree. The MSM is analysing this all wrong. This is because they can only see surface phenomena and have no ideas about underlying causes. To them, the surface phenomenon is the entire thing. Thus they see a crisis of governance in political parties. But they see no unemployment crisis, no youth unemployment crisis, no ownership crisis, no aggregate demand crisis and so on.

    You ask what is fiscal consolidation? Here is a somewhat ironic definition.

    Fiscal consolidation is that process which favours the interests of bankers and corporations over the interests of workers and small producers. The former want to protect of the value of the currency and the sanctity of debt. The latter want higher wages and a return to equitably distributed economic growth. The currency is protected by preventing inflation. This is achieved by generating unemployment and low wages. The sanctity of debt is maintained by insistence on government debt repayment (no government debt forgiveness) and the reduction of government deficits even at the cost of stagnating the entire economy. Take a look at Greece to see how all this works out in practice.

  18. @Fran Barlow
    You’re reading an awful lot into my use of the word ‘volatile’. I was only referring to the rather obvious fact that the turnover rate of political leaders has increased markedly in the last few years, and now seems to have been followed up by an increase in the turnover rate for governments, with the result that making predictions such as that a given party ‘will be out of power for a decade’ now look rather rash. It seems to me that ‘volatile’ is a perfectly appropriate word to describe this (in the sense of being prone to rapid and unexpected change).

    I did not try to propose an explanation for this volatility, nor did I say or imply that the volatility was somehow the fault of the electorate. I’m aware that some media commentators have done that. They are idiots.

  19. @Ikonoclast

    Your definition explains fiscal consolidation well.

    I did hear Michelle Grattan saying on RN yesterday something to the effect that she had no idea why she got it so wrong about Tony Abbott’s ability before the election. So she didn’t read the hundreds of comments on her articles at the Conversation, that provided intelligent and insightful evidence based reasons that explained why she was wrong?

    I find it very interesting that Sheridan is using the word ‘dynamics’ to characterise the ‘volatility’ in the electorate and of course he is missing the point entirely when he calls dynamics “destructive” and “here to stay”; this is the same thing as saying that pomo is The Truth.

  20. no volatility in gov’t where i come from:- progressive conservative association of albertafounded in 1905 & proudly forming transnational oil’s alberta government without break since 1971. party’s position further consolidated (!) last november (2014) when libertarian leader danielle smith & 11 of her wild rose party crossed the floor of the unicameral legislature in edmonton to join the progressive conservatives, reducing h.m. loyal opposition to 5 seats while upping government numbers to 78 of 87 seats. however, alberta’s economy, teetering every day on the brink of recession, is a bit volatile. -a.v.

  21. @Tim Macknay

    This is a case of serendipity (for me) because it has highlighted a useful concept for me. Fran took you literally (maybe) but in doing so crystallised a very insightful concept: namely that instability, volatility or perturbation in a system can be the result of stable or consistent forces albeit these must be opposed forces. The forces in this political case are on the one hand the consistent neoliberal pressures to endlessly unfetter capitalism, open markets and extend privatisation and on the other hand the consistent resistance of the public to the effects of this on them (lower wages, higher unemployment, higher utility bills and so on).

    The above now manifests itself as rapid changes in governments in Australia. Governments in Australia hold power nominally for three years minus one day. The people hold power for one day every three years. The duopoly (LNP/ALP) positively propose policies, openly or quietly, few or none of which policies the majority of the public actually want. The incumbent party attempts to implement their positively proposed policies. The opposition notes the most unpopular policy proposals/implementations of the incumbents and promises to not enact/continue these policies. Thus these are negatively proposed policies. They are only proposed as the opposite of the incumbent’s positively proposed policies.

    The opposition makes few or no positive policy proposals of its own (or keeps them hidden and known only to a select few) to maintain a small target policy. None of this process produces what the public actually wants. The public is able to vote for or against proposed policies but is never able to actually propose policies. The people who actually produce the proposed policies for the parties are the oligarchs who donate to the major parties and tell them what is required policy-wise.

    Note: I will make final speculation going back to the issue of consistent forces producing instability or perturbations. I suspect this might be a standard feature of all real world law-bound behaviour. I refer in this case to the hard laws of the hard sciences. The nature of a discrete law is that it operates consistently. It would not be discoverable and nameable as a discrete law otherwise. Thus only consistent laws or tendencies can singly exist. Thus all unstable behaviour must derive from the interaction of two or more consistent forces dynamically reinforcing or interfering. To repeat, this idea is speculative on my part. I can see a sense in which it could be attacked as being a sort of semantically dependent reductionism. However, it seems consistent with physics to me. I know it’s OT so I guess we shouldn’t pursue it here.

  22. Rob, you’re banned. Everyone else, please re-read the comments policy regarding personal attacks – JQ

  23. @Ikonoclast
    It is precisely the issue of citizens refusal of neoliberal policies that most msm commentary misses. I say neoliberal policies because most punters would not be sufficiently informed or even interested in political philosophy.

    The widely noted ‘volatility’ of the electorate is a holding exercise as citizens churn political parties and leaders before they have too much time and opportunity to further damage the common weal. The common weal now includes all aspects of the environment. This is not ‘volatility’ but a wholesale rejection of the neoliberalism of both major parties.

    Until someone advances a realistic program to address global warming, this churning will become the new normal.

  24. @alfred venison

    Queensland had a long period of conservative government from 1957 to 1989 albeit these were variously Country Party/National Party, Liberal Party or LNP coalition governments. This is not as long as Alberta has suffered conservative government of course. The linking factor might be that both states are primary producer states (agriculture and mining). It seems easy for a state government to remain popular and stable while it is “producing the goods” at the primary industry level. As my old man said of the Bjelke-Peterson era in Qld: “It is pretty easy to dig stuff up and sell it in boom years. It doesn’t take too many brains to manage a state based on that.”

    Alberta has had a dream run resource-wise and the conservative incumbents benefited from that. Things could change soon. Oil prices and oil production look likely to be heading for a long period of instability. But again, too much of this talk takes us OT.

  25. Rob Not a truer word written. Do you think he ever talks to anyone? Or does hethink he is being paid by the word

  26. If Turnbull gets the job there will be ongoing LNP conflict over emissions abatement. Ignoring the likes of Jensen and Bernadi I think heavyweights like Robb and Cormann oppose action. Bishop seems to sit on the fence despite a pledge of loyalty to Abbott. Turnbull has said he favours an ETS while Climate Spectator suggests turbocharging Direct Action. The trouble is DA will struggle to cut 5% of emissions 2000-2020 whereas the cut should be more like 20% as a minimum.

    Would Turnbull introduce an ETS now or take it to a 2016 election? He could be perceived as a lame duck if he sits on his hands while professing climate concern. I suspect we’re in for a dry year like 2007 of Ruddslide fame. That was a disappointment too.

  27. Abbott just talking in an interview claims that this spill is “not about me,….it was never about me”.

  28. @Ikonoclast

    Okay you are good with being the target of some weird childish person and I’m still a bit happy with the schadenfreude and this feeling does make one far less bothered by the sub-standard electronic graffiti.

    I still like to wonder ‘what is going on in their heads’ and specifically what sort of disordered dynamics would produce some one who could post that and not immediately experience extreme shame and deep regret. Oh well.

  29. I really haven’t the foggiest what the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting will be. Talk of shirtfronting Abbott could soon dissolve into scenes of mutual koala cuddling, for all I know.

  30. I’d be surprised if J bishop wanted the job, tho I’d like to see her suffer in the hot seat .A Bolt seems to want S Morrison .It would be interesting to see how a nutter controlled Liberal party headed by M Turnbull would work. I hope M Turnbull doesn’t get it ,I want continued revolution against the nutters not a slow motion car crash.

  31. “Srsly” it’s like a rather gripping soap, politics at present. Every time I head off to do something else, I come back to find there’s been some new dramatic development. Now Tony Abbott’s brought the spill motion forward to tomorrow. Oh well, at least we political tragics won’t have to wait so long for the next big moment!

  32. Only one more sleep! My favourite Petty cartoon of all time featured the Queen, turning to an aid in the presence of Gough, and asking ‘what’s he mean, the rough end of the pineapple?’. In the wake of the sacking, if you don’t know.

    Tomorrow, who knows who will experience the rough end of the pineapple. All the contenders are worthy of the award of Honourable Recipients of the award for the most undignified, Warranted or Unwanted, Unlubricated, Pineapple Rectal Insertion (Without Prejudice) of the Hempire (stand up when the Queen speaks, you lout) Rusty Nails and Bruce Ruxton Award of the Holy Legion of Whimpering Sycophants Medal.

    I hope Canberra Hospital has improved or that our Tones has top level private health cover. He’ll need somewhere where the breezes blow soft and are scented by herbs and Church incense. And the smell of a choirboy or two, the auld Catholic.

    If it is, praise be Lord of All Creation and the concept of Natural Justice, Turnbull, then let the games begin.

  33. @BilB
    Yup, saw that one on Twitter! Though there was a bit of argy-barging about it at first. I see from the poll bludger that there is a teeny chance Labor could get ahead in Mount Ommanee ( I like some of the names of Queensland electorates) but it’s very unlikely to happen, so I guess it’s 44 + independent? Anthony Green suggests even if there is a challenge in the electorate with the undeclared bankrupt PUP (onya PUP!) it’s unlikely to be resolved for many months, during which time Labor can govern.

    @jungney
    The Productivity Commission will have to hold an enquiry into why no-one did any work in early February!

  34. Errk! I replied to Bilb and Jungney in one comment and have gone into moderation for my sins. Anyway the caravan rolls on!

  35. Exciting day 2 begins overcast in Sydney. Canberra today will be a city of tired thumbs, thumbs weary from the stress of all night and furious texting. It is just hours now before the days drama begins.

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