do political parties commit ritual suicide? The shrinking group of
people known as NSW Liberal MPs contain more than a few people who have
won their preselection by “coming up through the middle.” Let me

You’re at a preselection. Candidate A is supported by
one faction, Candidate B by another and nobody gives Candidate C a
chance. On the day C surprises everyone while A bombs. In the final
round it’s C versus B, and as all of A’s voters hate B, C wins. C
promptly decides that they’re above factionalism and the people’s

The shrinking group of people known as NSW Liberal MPs contain more than a few Cs. Their leader, Peter Debnam, is one.

the 1980s, Nick Greiner had to face down the Uglies led by Ljenko
Urbancic. He succeeded. He became one of
the greatest premiers this country has seen in the last 30 years.

Brogden knew he had to do the same to Clarke – but couldn’t. Clarke won
by default. Now he continues to win because Debnam thinks he can
prevail by squeezing up through the middle, like he has throughout his
political career.

He’s mistaken. The voters of Pittwater and
elsewhere will respect a Liberal leader who can show scars inflicted by
dying Uglies. Whether Debnam wakes up or is replaced by some other
happy warrior remains to be seen.

This prevalence of factional
naifs in the Liberal Party explains why confident, pleasant,
savvy-seeming politicians are completely discombobulated by real
red-in-tooth-and-claw factional warriors like David Clarke – and eaten
alive by Labor frontbenchers who have survived their own party’s
factional wars.

Today’s Telegraph
item that says “the right wing of the NSW Liberal Party is now
mobilising to take over control of the party’s pre-selection process
and election campaign team in the wake of the Pittwater loss,” should
terrify the party’s supporters.

It’s true. Nice guys finish last.