Have you felt it? A disturbance in the force.
Andrew Bolt has tonight aired claims that one Coalition MP from the lower house is threatening to quit the Liberal Party if Malcolm Turnbull is not replaced with a leader who can appeal to conservative voters. From the Andrew Bolt blog at the Herald Sun:
“This government has left the party and the values of the party,” said the lower house MP, who does not want to be identified yet.
“It is miles away from what our rank and file say.
“People tell me Malcolm Turnbull can’t make decisions, he dithers…
“The final thing they say is that he’s a million miles from our values.”
This MP probably reads The XYZ:
“With 1052 responses, it was determined that the votes won from voters who would not have voted for the Liberal Party with Abbott at the helm (23), were outweighed by those who would change their vote due to the sacking of Abbott (575).”
More from Bolt:
“The MP said only a change of leader would persuade him to stay, but not if Turnbull was replaced by Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop, as is increasingly rumored.
“I don’t know if that would fix the problem.
“It’s about the values and the direction (of the party) and if we will do anything to appeal to the conservative base.”
This is a polite way of saying that Julie Bishop is incompetent, a UN stooge and a political whore who is hated by conservatives almost as much as Turnbull.
“A defection will cripple the Turnbull Government. It now holds just 74 of the 148 seats in the House of Representatives, with Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander fighting by-elections after having to quit and renounce their dual citizenship.
“If Joyce wins, as expected, but Alexander loses his seat of Bennelong to former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, the Government will hold exactly half the 150 seats, and the defection of the Coalition MP will put it into minority government, needing the support of crossbenchers to stay in power.”
So it’s a big deal. The citizenship fiasco has threatened the Liberal Party’s slim lower house majority. Bolt has very recently warned of this:
“Alexander has since renounced his British citizenship and is standing again in a seat he should hold, given he won it last year with a 9.7 per cent margin.
“But then Labor chose as its candidate Kristina Keneally, the former NSW premier, who has turned this contest into a referendum on Turnbull — “an opportunity … to stand up and say to Malcolm Turnbull, ‘Your government is awful’.”
“Two new polls show markedly different results, but both suggest the pitch is biting.
Keneally in one poll had slashed Alexander’s lead to 53 per cent to 47. But a smaller Galaxy poll had them at 50-50, a result that should shock the Liberals, especially after days of pounding Keneally on her links as premier to corrupt Labor powerbrokers.
“For a start, it confirms the same-sex marriage vote cannot save Turnbull. Flat wages and soaring energy prices count far more to voters.”
What this does is give more power to conservatives who disagree with the Liberal Party’s direction, at exactly the same time that conservatives have been given a very real and pressing reason to desire a change of course for the Liberal Party. Because now, dissent matters. If the Liberal Party does not take conservative concerns into account, it could cost them government.
The tremors are real. The hardly conservative pair of Jeff Kennett and John Hewson recently criticised Turnbull’s lack of leadership. What I find telling is this analysis two days ago from the Australian:
“The overwhelming support for same-sex marriage marks a fundamental change that will play out for years to come, and provides a crystalline moment marking a change of partisan political allegiances and fortune that has been building for years.
“..It is too early to tell but, apart from the obvious implications for Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership during the next few weeks as the same-sex marriage legislation is debated amid an air of minority government chaos, the postal survey of November 2017 may yet be a seminal moment in the evolution of party politics and voting patterns.
“There is the potential that this vote will trigger landscape-shifting change in conservative politics, accentuating the splintering now evident from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives into a long-term schism similar to the permanent divisions of the left between Labor and the Greens.”
Looks like they read The XYZ over at The Australian, too.
“They decided to betray every conservative and right of centre citizen who voted for them to work with the largest, best funded and most effective leftist activist group in the country today.
“And yet not only are they still welcome in the parliamentary Liberal party, they’re probably a good representation of its future.
“If you’re still giving your first preference vote to the party of leftists in light blue you’re not only a fool, you’re a part of the problem.”
Here is some more from The Australian:
“The broad left is split between the ALP and Greens but it is a partnership with common central goals of big government, big spending, union support and, at the same time, appeal to the deinstitutionalised thinking of affluent hi-tech, corporate and public service employees who put global environment concerns above all else.
“While the Greens are unlikely to fulfil Bob Brown’s dream of supplanting a major party and continue to eat away at inner-city Labor electorates, the ALP’s evolution to the left keeps it ahead of the Greens and there are no minnows nibbling at either from the left.”
Yep. They definitely read The XYZ:
“The Greens have dragged both the Libs and the ALP to the left on social issues for over two decades now..
“The pendulum must find a way back, and currently the best bet for that pathway is Hanson. The Libs will never change unless they are forced and the story of the last few years is an illustration of why that force will no longer be able to be exerted from within. Without pressure on their right flank the future of Liberal Party politics in Australia looks like Christopher Pyne.”
A few final thoughts. We know that many in the Liberal Party are more likely to choose power over principles, ie, they backed Turnbull over Abbott. If the political winds shift it makes sense that they may again choose staying in power at all costs, and back another conservative. The problem is, signalling to the right hasn’t worked for Turnbull. My personal favourite was the proposed changes to the citizenship test which never had a snowflake’s hope in hell of passing.
The Libs picking another conservative leader could merely be seen by conservatives as a self-interested, party-wide signal. Keep in mind something else Lucas Rosas has written on these pages:
“It’s time for this charade to end, it’s time for all of them to go, and it’s time for the Liberal Party to die.”
Photo by Australian Embassy Jakarta