Back in 1964, former Tory minister Iain Macleod penned an article in The Spectator condemning what he called “the magic circle”, the mysterious method by which the great and the good of the Conservative Party chose its leaders. Things have been different ever since. But who’ll do the same for the NSW Liberals?
Nominations for federal seats closed at midday today – with Member for Cook Bruce Baird deciding to announce he wouldn’t be hanging around via the media, generously giving any would be successors a few hours to get organised.
There is already anger in the NSW Liberal Party that a number of safe federal seats on the other side of the Harbour Bridge from Cook aren’t being voluntarily vacated at the coming election. The rumour mill says Pru Goward was forced into contesting a state seat because of the ambitions of the rustic Member for Hume, Alby Schultz, to establish a dynasty in his electorate.
Now, Baird’s announcement has provoked absolute fury. Thing seem to have been very nicely arranged so that failed tourism boss, failed Liberal Party state director and failed parliamentary chief of staff, Scott Morrison, can get a safe seat.
Baird’s Canberra career has been ill-starred. He started off covered in blood, after a messy preselection. His comments on Radio National this morning that he asked the PM about promotion to the frontbench and was told that he was regarded as very talented – but never made it there – normally would have at least sparked a belly laugh.
There are few smiling faces in the NSW Liberals today. Cook is 13 per cent plus seat. There should be a dozen bright young things lining up for it, a chance for party members to choose some real talent.
Instead, it appears to have been reserved for a member of the magic circle.