The 1980s provides some instructive lessons about John Howard's attitude toward power, lessons that senior Liberals would have done well to recall before Alexander Downer's little Show-and-Tell meeting last week.

For all his talk about being leader as long as his party wants him to be, Howard has always been obsessed with power. This is a man so determined to secure the leadership of his party that he happily wrecked its electoral prospects in order to undermine the leadership of Andrew Peacock. Even after Peacock replaced him in 1989 and Howard scoffed at ever returning to the leadership, he continued to destabilise his party, angry that his own leadership had been cruelled by the Joh For PM nonsense.