Let’s make it clear. So that no Crikey reader is at all confused, let’s set you straight about this Liberal leadership business by giving a few extracts from the writings this morning of the political experts. First of all, understand that a Leadership spill looms for Brendan Nelson. Dennis Shanahan and Patricia Karvelas told us so in The Australian, perhaps to happen as early as next Tuesday with Malcolm Turnbull taking on Brendan Nelson. Rest assured, the Peter Costello’s coup is cancelled. Malcolm Farr in the Sydney Daily Telegraph has told us that and, what’s more, the leadership fretting can now stop in the Liberal Party as Brendan Nelson is given months to improve voter opinion of himself and the Liberals, free from any concerted challenge. Not that the Leader of the Opposition should consider himself safe. Brendan Nelson a “dead man walking” is what Clinton Porteous and Steve Lewis assure us in the Brisbane Courier Mail and it’s possible there could be a move against him as early as next week when Parliament resumes, but most Liberals expect him to be given a chance to turn around disastrous opinion polls. Have you understood that?

Well realise as well that there is a Clock ticking for Costello as Andrew Bolt in the Melbourne Herald Sun assures us that what’s awkward for Costello is that he’s now being believed more than he’d probably like when he says he’s not interested in the Liberal Leadership. “He’ll know that if too many others start taking him at his word, his last chance of becoming prime minister in 2010 will be shot,” the million hits a month man assured us. “And I doubt very much that’s what he actually wants.” Even clearer now, isn’t it? Or it was until that Michelle Grattan chimed in at the Melbourne Age with the way cleared for Turnbull to challenge Nelson. Ms Grattan sees the pressure mounting for the Liberal leadership battle between Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull to be brought to a head now that Peter Costello has reaffirmed he is not a contender but cautions that the pro-Turnbull sources have played down the possibility of a vote in the parliamentary fortnight beginning next week. Glad to have helped you all straighten that out.

Two things going for WA Labor. As the day of reckoning in Perth gets closer, Alan Carpenter has two things going for him in his bid to keep his party in power and himself as Premier. The first is the good sense that his South Australian peer Mike Rann has shown in his dealing with the National Party in his state. The second is that for the Nationals to do a deal with the WA Liberals would make a mockery of the very claim of independence that helped them be so successful last Saturday.

The Mike Rann story is an intriguing one. After the election before last he needed the help of the National Party’s Karlene Maywald to help him form a government at all and broke with the Labor Party tradition of not entering into coalition arrangements by offering her a position in Cabinet. Ms Maywald accepted the post. At the last election Rann Labor performed far better and no longer needed the National Party’s support but made the decision to keep her on as a Cabinet minister anyway. It was a rare show of political loyalty by a Labor Party politician but one which should encourage the WA Nationals to believe that by backing Labor in their state they can build a relationship which will be of long term benefit to their rural constituency.

Not the only pessimist. If there is one newspaper in the English speaking world whose readers we might think would be supporters of action against climate change it would surely by the United Kingdom’s The Guardian. It is an honest to goodness liberal organ with an excellent coverage of all things environmental — just the kind of publication you would expect to attract greenies aplenty. Hence my surprise at the result of the paper’s recent reader’s poll:

Ross Garnaut clearly is not the only person concerned that the world is incapable of taking the necessary action to combat climate change.

The Murdoch campaign continues. Barack Obama the trash talking African American making disparaging remarks about a lady and a white one at that.

John McCain the all white American war hero.

That’s the latest installment in the Murdoch press in the United States coverage of the presidential campaign.

Peter Fray

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