It seems to have been missed by the mainstream media but Tony Abbott is trying to move the Party away from it’s roots and into a more shallow organisation in the hope of the short term gain of him living in the Lodge.
I guess it could work with a pliable media but the problem is it moves politics into an even shorter term view and promotes knee jerk reactions which is bad news for the country in the longer term. What the country needs is vision and the strength to promote and follow the vision.
Once upon a time and not all that long ago, the Libs used to stand for sound economic management, border security, and even started to think about our aging population (although the idea of breeding up the taxpayer base was an environmental nightmare), but these days it’s all about trying to use every conceivable point as an opportunity to sow dissatisfaction with the Government.
Even something as logical as a levy for flood victims being placed on the more wealthy members of society is grasped as a chance to play the “tax” card rather than the “restore infrastructure” card. This is a direct reversal of Liberal Party thinking which used this process 7 times during it’s time in Office and which was recognised by Labor as sound economic thinking and supported each time.
Another area where the thinking has been reversed is on Border Security which the Libs prided themselves on for many years and even used to try to attack Labor over for not being “hard” enough.
Suddenly the idea of funding education in Indonesian schools (one of the smarter Liberal decisions) has become an opportunity for short termism and a chance to play the “Hate Moslems” card. Never mind the fact that it’s benefits have been evaluated twice and it looks like a great way to stop having to deploy troops in the longer term.
But Tony is finding it harder to get these disruptive cards in play. The further they move along this path the more extreme their reactions are becoming and we now have characters like Scot Morrison who are playing it so hard that many Liberals can’t stand the attitude. Sadly for Tony, he jumped in to agree with Morrison then had to inch away when he saw the public reaction. It even led to one of the Shadow Cabinet breaching solidarity and leaking the Morrison comments to the media. Most embarrassing.
As the Liberal party watches these bizarre events unfold they must be wondering if they really want New Liberal (based on Tony’s magnificent confidence if not intellect) or to stick with traditional Liberal values that used to offer a safe pair of hands for running the country.
Plenty of the Voters think Tony is a loose canon and his current behaviour is not drawing any extra support at the moment. Indeed he has confirmed to those who distrust him that he doesn’t have the smarts for the job. But maybe the party will just cross their fingers and hope he gets lucky.
In the mean time the jockeying for position for the next change of leadership is hotting up. The ambitious Morrison has severely curtailed his options and Joe (The Red) Hockey has decided to offer an even less traditional Liberal option. If he is interested, Mal Washer has come into the running and of course Turnbull is probably a good chance now he has gained some experience at handling the Party.
With the fallout between Abbott and his deputy, Julie Bishop, the change could be coming soon. We shouldn’t forget that Tony only got the gig when Bishop took the West Aussie vote over from Turnbull to Tony for a last minute win.
This time I think there will be less media speculation and back stabbing before the challenge. The pain from earlier changes was heightened by a long lead in of instability. Labor has shown these things should be fast and effective.
How far off is the next leadership change? I can’t tell and nor should I be able to if it’s done right, but one thing is certain. Leaving Abbott in charge is seriously damaging the brand if they don’t want to be repositioned out in Barnaby’s alternate reality fantasy world.