Flawed, fatal and terminal. The former Liberal Peter Slipper is not the most objective forecaster of Tony Abbott’s future but he is far from being alone on the conservative side of politics in predicting the Opposition Leader’s imminent demise. The Parliament House rumour mill is well and truly grinding away with Malcolm Turnbull being widely tipped for a comeback as the Abbott popularity ratings keep falling in the opinion polls.

“When one looks at recent opinion polls it is by no means certain that the Leader of the Opposition will be leading the opposition at the time of the next election” is how the deposed Speaker described the situation yesterday in the House of Representatives, tossing in for good measure the description of the leadership as “flawed and fatal and terminal.”

I’ve heard enough similar views expressed in private to think it’s worthwhile putting an entry into the competition First Dog is running.

I expect the tea towel to arrive in time for Christmas.

And then on to the next contest. Behind the leadership mutterings in the Liberal Party is the belief that the opinion polls show that Malcolm Turnbull would be a winner in a contest against Julia Gillard. What the polls don’t take into account is that the moment public opinion showed defeat looming Labor will return to looking at its own leadership. It would be a case of come-back-Kevin-all-is-forgiven.

We thought it was a good idea. Perhaps the independents in the House of Representatives will put Wayne Swan out of his misery and end the continuing nonsense about ensuring that this year’s budget ends up producing a surplus. The legislation needed to pretend that moving unclaimed superannuation from one government pocket to another really adds $760 million to the bottom line is no certainty to be passed.

Rather than designing “some Mickey Mouse pieces of legislation that creates an illusion of a surplus”, as independent Tony Windsor said yesterday, there were many middle-class welfare issues that could be addressed if there was a need to create savings. That included axing the baby bonus altogether because it was an “appalling” policy.

The Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie told ABC radio: “I don’t share the government’s fascination with a budget surplus for political reasons. At this point in time … I am not inclined to support any measures which are aimed at achieving a political outcome.”

My emails from Nancy. I look forward each morning to my message from Nancy. I know she has trouble with her apostrophes — spot the one below — but there’s a sense of importance that comes from being one of the millions on the US Congressional leader’s email list. I even tried to send off my $3 once but was rejected for not being a proper citizen

And Nancy is not my only Democrat correspondent. A couple of times a day the party’s national committee sends me an update and  once I even had a message from Bill — as in Clinton — thanking me for my support. I’m still waiting for Barack’s personalised message but I’m sure it will come. For this is all part of the new way of election campaigning and especially the fund raising part of it.

Along with the emails come the social media aspects of campaigning with a recent Pew Research survey finding that two-thirds of social media users have used platforms like Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest to comment about politics. As Amy Thoma, a campaign consultant with Stutzman Public Affairs, said: “Instead of a 24-hour news cycle, we joke that there’s a 24-minute news cycle. Anything at any given moment could blow up on Facebook and Twitter and campaigns have to respond quickly.”

New and views  noted along the way.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey