The hard right of the NSW Liberals seems to be busy, busy, busy – and ambitious.
Party sources say the holy warriors are making plans to defy Prime Minister John Howard and prevent the immediate past president of the NSW Party and moderate, Chris McDiven, from succeeding Shane Stone as federal party president – all as part of their plan to burn Brogden at the stake.
The jihadists are supposedly less than impressed by the PM’s support for McDiven. Some sources say the PM is staying out of the affairs of his own division of the party because he knows he could be told where to go – publicly, perhaps – by the attack dogs of the hard right.
Others say Howard simply plans to go ahead – that he knows the jihadists are already polarising the party too much and will be happy to slap them down, since he believes power has already gone to their heads..
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There’s no doubt the right will abuse its stranglehold over executive for its own ends. There is already talk that proceedings will be instigated to expel moderates from the party over allegations of conduct unbecoming during the executive elections. The right also seems keen to move swiftly to remove parliamentary dead wood – but only moderate dead wood.
Rumours say the right is also putting the fear of God into new NSW state director Graham Jaeschke, reminding him and his staff who has the power to higher and fire, now that it has a firm grip on the executive. That should make the conduct preselection process interesting.