When asked who was the “best candidate to lead the Liberal Party” out of Mr Turnbull, Mr Costello, Mr Hockey and Mr Abbott, it was Australia’s longest-serving treasurer who got most support at 36%. — today’s Australian

In case some people missed it, Peter Costello has said he is leaving politics. No really. He’s said it quite clearly, not once, not twice … several times.

Which makes you wonder why Newspoll insists on including him in its question rating possible leaders of the Liberal Party, a question that seems aimed not at merely embellishing the statistical record, but also, quite cynically, at undermining Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership. (As if Turnbull needed any help.)

Does Newspoll know something we don’t? Do they have a special insight into the mind of the Member for Higgins? Unlikely. It is at moments like these that we are reminded that Newspoll is a proprietary product of the News Ltd empire. A poll whose findings can be used to further the editorial aims of its partner newspapers. The Australian has long campaigned vigorously on Costello’s behalf, now it seems it’s Newspoll’s turn.

Still, if people are going to be polled on who they’d want to see lead the Liberal Party regardless of actual availability, we’d like to see a proper range of contenders … a list that would really show Malcolm just how unelectably unpopular he is.

The former member for Bennelong is at a loose end … why not include him in the next survey? How about Robert Menzies? Sure, he’s dead, but that’s a mere detail. Winston Churchill? He was both a Liberal and a Conservative and is therefore a perfect Turnbull contrast. Teddy Roosevelt? Abraham Lincoln? Elizabeth 1? Pericles? OK, that last one’s silly — he wouldn’t speak English. Who would win in a contest between Malcolm Turnbull and Jesus? Obviously Christ wouldn’t do so well with core Coalition voters because he was a socialist, but still … and then there’s Superman. Captain Kirk. Matt Preston. Gandalf…

Come on Newspoll, let’s see the numbers.