Sunday, October 18, 2015

Turnbull in a phonebox

Two moments of non-elite partisans communicating to party elites of the right have seemed most meaningful to me since I last blogged.

First, the moment in the second US Republican debate where Jeb Bush claimed that his brother George W. "kept us safe", to which the wingnut audience at the Reagan Library burst out into unanimous applause. The idiocy of this assertion in the context of 9/11 and dozens of Benghazi-level embassy and consulate attacks is lost on these ideologues in their media bubble of epistemic closure, and the message to GOP elites is to ramp up the crazy because that's what gets the base excited. Thus we will probably get another government shutdown this year, with Congress in chaos and no competent candidate willing to grasp the poisoned gavel of the Speakership to replace the failed John Boehner.

Second, the moment in the most recent Australian Liberal Party conference when Malcolm Turnbull rolled out a canned line that every Liberal leader runs with at such times, to the effect that the Liberal Party is superior to the other side because it doesn't have factions. The attending LNP hoi polloi - some of whom were the factional elites who installed him as Prime Minister in the party room, but most of whom were rank-and-file members aligned with one of the factions - laughed him down with a scornful tone. This gut reaction not only put a lie to Turnbull's bald statement, but signalled that we don't go for that sort of bullshit in this country, not even in right-wing politics.

The upshot of this is that the Republican Party is descending into the murky territory of actually being unfit to govern and an electoral majority of the public realising this truth, whereas the Liberal Party still has a hope of running the public sector without completely buggering it up. We tried the Third Way of Rudd-ism and it was found wanting in terms of implementation, allowing the Utopia-style APS bureaucracy to rise to the level of its incompetence in the absence of firm hands being on the departmental levers. Now we will give Turnbull the wheel and see if his brand of cheerful waffle managerialism masquerading as techno-wonkery can do any better.

Prior to the decisive spill, I had been building a case over the previous year or so about how Scott Morrison would be the next Liberal leader. The Libs decided to go with Turnbull, with Morrison's faction delivering the key swing votes in the party room, which led to the heated Ray Hadley 2GB interview in the days afterwards. It is blindingly obvious that Morrison could have put his hand up to be the champion of the Abetz/Andrews religious nudge faction but demurred, trusting that he will be the next Liberal leader to win an election when Turnbull fails. I won't go so far as to guarantee it, Andrew Elder style, but I agree with Morrison's calculations.

Meanwhile, the Turnbull government is now ensconced, albeit he has been mostly busy launching policies put in place by Abbott and hasn't had time to do much off his own bat. Honeymoon polls have been mostly underwhelming, going as low as 50:50 already without the leader having actually made a contentious decision yet.

I am not sure how Sinclair Davidson at Catallaxy figures that Turnbull will shift the party to the right. Colour me skeptical about Turnbull delivering on the promises Abbott abandoned. Turnbull has promised a more consultative PMship with participation from Cabinet - but he stacked Cabinet with younger wets and purged it of Abetz and Andrews. Turnbull may not have a mandate to shift the party to the left either, though, given promises he has made to Morrison's faction and the Nats to uphold key Abbott policies.

I have not seen anything to dissuade me from the notion that Turnbull is as hamstrung on policy as Abbott was. This government has been a lameduck administration from the start, we've just exchanged caretakers. Turnbull doesn't even have any culture wars to wage to distract the Liberal luvvies. If and when he actually starts making any decisions, one of two things will happen. If he moves to the right, watch his polls plummet immediately. If he moves to the left, watch the party room destabilise (and then the polls plummet later).


  1. Yeah I think Turnbull has a problem.
    The voters want him to do one thing BUT the right wing of the Liberal caucus says no to that.

    It wil be interesting to see how this plays out.

  2. Interesting how the worm turns. Ideology based on how the world should be and not how it really is, is having a very negative effect on this nation, and your pointing out the problems that are now so evident in our out of control Collectivist mindset ABC, and what is now permitted to occur at ‘schoolies events across the nation, is but a symptom of this ideological thinking where anything goes so long as no one gets hurt - and that is both physically and emotionally - in the process of ‘having fun’ mostly at our expense, and also the expense of the taxpayer and the humble pensioner who fought in the war and also built lots of things for the community and now get rubbished by these wannabe rock stars and also Leftys because they despise them for being so-called unfashionable ie not part of Politically Correct Brigade.

    This kind of thinking is killing us as a nation. The majority of us still value our Australian Culture, which is why the Socialist model of government was abandoned at the last fed election, so it is now up to the present government to tackle a long list of overdue wrongs that have put us in this cohesive society/nation destroying situation ie schoolies, fabians, gay marriage and impending legalisation of bestiality etc.

    1. Trudging through that run-on sentence almost killed me.

  3. our missing the elephant in the room here. What is it about Tony Abbott that makes people shy away from him? Abbott should have formed government after the 2010 election as most of the Indpendendents were conservatives. Those Independents spoke to Abbott and then ran away from him. Gillard remained PM (and did surprisingly well given a lower house minority and a Green dominated Senate).
    The current Senate should be kindly disposed to Abbott. Cliver Palmer was a major benefactor to the Right for God’s sake! But again, Abbott has scared them away. Something about the way he operates, a sort of primordial hunting gene that disgusts many of those who deal with him and offends the hygiene and behavioural standards of many women on first contact with him.

    Now this government are being held hostage by Labor, the Greens, international masonic forces and Palmer. What was an overwhelming victory and a mandate for change at the last election has been totally ignored by the unrepresentative swill in the senate many of whom were paid to stand by illegal halal-meat traders with links to Soros, Indonesia live meat trade and Slipper/Thompson. I an sure this is not what the majority of Australian voters wanted or expected.
    If this obstruction cannot be overcome very soon by Turnbull then Abbott should independently call a dissolution of both houses and go back to the people with a "Government Of National Reconciliation" made up of reprtesentatives of the major employer groups, the major (Christian) Churches, eminent ex-Prime Ministers (Liberal), Generals, Mining Entrepreneurs, Graziers and Livestock Exporters.