As usual, the Liberal Party is in disarray after losing an election.
Its honchos clearly were not talking to each other, and Alexander Downer, in a petulant interview on Insiders, saw no reason to reflect on the loss. He also managed to insult just about everyone. (He blamed the “It’s Time” factor – an insult to the voters’ intelligence; he scorned the idea of state politics as a career; he confessed that for months he knew his party had no chance, etc).
Then he backed Peter Costello, clearly unaware that Costello was pulling the plug. He had spoken, he said, to “one or two people” and that was all.
Therein lies one of the big problems: the Liberals fail to reflect, fail to understand and fail to learn.
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It remains problematic whether the party will even survive in its present incarnation, lacking as it does any real extra-parliamentary structure.
Malcolm Turnbull is clearly the best they have, but the extreme right-wing branch that is the NSW Liberal Party will fight that prospect to the death, especially since Malcolm used the dreaded “progressive” word in an interview.
Jeff Kennett, not for the first time, has put his hand up. We might all have a laugh, but the party could do far worse.
Who else could steady the ship? Downer’s name is being mentioned, but that would have to be the ultimate death wish.
Nelson, who believes in nothing but Nelson (whatever that might be); Bishop (Julie, not Bron) who at least comes from a state where the vote has not entirely collapsed; Robb, who would make a good deputy. About the only name not touted is Wilson Tuckey. And why not?
However this is worked out – and it will be indescribably messy – the party then has a really tough decision to take – that is, deciding what it is, what it stands for and who it wants to appeal to.
With the most conservative Labor government about to take office, where is the political space for whatever remains of the Liberals?
And a tip: Bob Debus for the environment portfolio in the Rudd government. He’s already done it well in NSW, knows the politics and is connected.
He actually has more ministerial experience than anyone in the parliamentary party.