Brendan Nelson looks the turkey who’s been told that Christmas will be a very special day for him. God he’s really trying to broker the Queensland split? Must be like Dan Quayle wandering into the situation room during Desert Storm – ‘what does this button do?’.

What can the man really be thinking about the position he’s in now? That he will be able to hang on to the leadership for six years until the party is electable?

Or that a big crisis will so discredit the Ruddites that they will be utterly discredited, and a first term return will become possible?

If that were to happen – and it seems the only way a first-term return would be possible, there aint going to be any GST – then people would be looking for stronger leader than Rudd, not a photocopy of a human being.

Or does Nelson believe he can take a turn, lose it, and get it back again from either Abbott, Costello, or …god knows…Downer? Or god knows who else?

Or does he simply want to go round the track a couple of times, so at least you can say you’ve seen it?

Nelson is obviously a place-marker, and also a bit of stalling. The Right don’t know what to do, so they’ll simply stall Turnbull, and any process of makeover and takeover of the party he might be able to spark.

But surely, surely they can’t be stupid enough to believe the PR they’re putting out about the loss – that it was about being outspent by the unions on advertising, that it was perceptions, that it was the ‘It’s Time’ factor, that the leaflets fiasco ruined their last week, etc.

The key point about the election was that it was based on one of the few situations where people’s experience isn’t mediated – the workplace. That’s why the polls fell like a brick. It was the rare entrance of reality into a politics hitherto dominated by ‘queue jumpers’, ‘elites’, etc. But maybe they’re still decompressing.

In that respect, they’re like the British Tories 1997, pootling around for a decade before David Cameron and friends fashioned a party that recognised both Thatcher and Blair had permanently changed British life in a way that made the former of these utterly superceded.

Howard was the same. He presided over the burgeoning of McMansion world, in which life is made up of atomised relationships rather than big collectivities (one reason the ACTU’s workchoices campaign eschewed old-style street campaigning, for TV and special events). Standing on the stuff Howard was most keen on is a ticket to nowhere.

Turnbull had the right instinct in PR terms, drawing a line under the ancien regime. But that fact that he was not only blindsided by the right but reportedly ‘furious’ about it, shows how little a politician he really is. How dare these people make deals and build alliances while I’m trying to get on with …. politics. You either plot in your sleep, or stay out of the game. Will Turnbull really stick around to spend years on the pitiable game of numbers, building an alliance one by one? Or will a big corporate quango or whatever job start to look too good?

Mind you, I could care. The Libs are like a rabid dog in a flooded drain to me. Interested to see if they can get out of it, solves a few problems if they don’t.

I’m pretty sure they will, though. If Labor could hold them off for a decade, the sheer process of party reproduction in a post-Political era may bring them into genuine crisis.

The problem they face now is what to say for the next three years, while in-fighting becomes the main game. Perhaps they could be the first Western opposition to just be honest and stick an answering machine at the despatch box till ’09. ‘You have called the Opposition. No-one can take your call right now but….’. Demystifying the turn-taking corporate state might be the best service they can offer democracy.

The question for Labor is whether luring Turnbull out, supposing this is possible, would do more or less damage.

Peter Fray

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