Was a potential leadership challenge the real subject of Malcolm Farr’s
piece on the right’s takeover of the NSW Libs in Monday’s Telegraph
? Was it code? Are Barry O’Farrell and Peter Debnam planning a spill –
or in the wake of John Brogden’s reshuffle or are people just jumping
at shadows?

The emails ran thick and fast yesterday. An excursion to a Waratah’s
game by O’Farrell and Debnam has got people talking – and is Debnam
happy with the reshuffle? That, Liberals say, was Brogden rewarding his
faves – and sending a message to some of the vets to move on.

Liberal insiders say O’Farrell is being cut out of the loop by
Brogden’s office to a certain extent – and that he ain’t happy. Still,
he came along and faithfully stuck to the script at the big policy
launch on Monday. Debnam can’t be happy only ending up with “transport
services” after yesterday – it’s s*xy, but he wanted more – but he has
concerns in his own seat of Vaucluse thanks to the Wentworth antics.

The Clarke jihad might be the most immediate concern. He and his forces
are just like that Ugandan mob, the Army of God. They’ll keep at it –
and believe bullets won’t stop them ‘cos the Lord is on their side. The
religious right is poised to gain control of state and will stack
preselections to get the God-fearing into position.

Brogden probably will have the numbers until the 2007 election, but the
right are going to work hard driving a wedge between him and the party
by saying he is running his own ship without consulting the state
division. And life is going to get tougher and tougher for J-Bro. The
right wing seems set to control the state executive after the internal
elections. They will dominate the preselections. More of their suicide
bombers will become candidates and MPs – and then the squeeze will
really be on.