Norman Abjorensen posed the question yesterday. Might John Howard simply walk away sometime in the middle of the year and hand the prime ministership over to a fresh face, Malcolm Turnbull?

Peter Costello, the Abjorensen theory goes, is too closely tied to Howard and 11 years of Liberal rule to be electable. He’s too much the number two.

Turnbull, like Rudd, is new.

Turnbull, however, is also the subject of a scurrilous whispering campaign in both Canberra and Sydney over his past business dealing – maybe it’s best to say “whispering campaigns”, as they appear to be coming from both the ALP and within the Government.

You’d think Turnbull was running the oddest shop since Nugan Hand if you believed the half the talk – but it could still all be messy.

The Labor mutterings are all obvious. As for the knifing going on within the Liberal side, well, all we can say is that it emphasises yet again the differences between Sydney’s eastern suburbs and the North Shore.

Particularly those parts of the North Shore represented by Dr Brendan …