This concern for Thomson won’t change the script
Under pressure himself over his crusade against Craig Thomson, Tony Abbott has moved to present a softer side, suggesting that the ex-communicated Labor MP should quit politics for, ... wait for it, his own good.
“The best thing for everyone, to take the pressure off him, to take the pressure off his family, would be for him to leave the parliament,’’ the Opposition Leader told the Nine network during his regular Friday morning spray.
Mr Abbott acknowledged that the NSW crossbencher was under “enormous’’ pressure but offered no apology for his constant references to Labor’s “tainted’’ vote, his attacks on Fair Work Australia, (since redefined as the author of a rigorous piece of independent investigation) and his ceaseless prosecution of both the Government and Thomson.
For Julia Gillard subject to renewed leadership discussions by powerful forces inside her own party, this is a full-blown existential crisis.
But the Thomson saga has genuine moral dimensions as well.
More balanced figures on all sides of politics are now thinking the unthinkable amid growing fears of the MP engaging in destructive or self-harming behaviour and worse.
His impromptu no-questions press conference on Thursday angered the Government because it again kicked the story along but perhaps it should be more concerned for him if it points to his behaviour becoming erratic.
Under the surface, even some Liberals want the campaign to stop fearing the worst for Thomson and aware of the damage it represents to the fabric of our political institutions.
Yet in the best traditions of Canberra politics, self interest and duplicity tend to prevail.
It will not be lost on voters that Mr Thomson’s resignation - urged on him with such pastoral care by the former seminarian - would bring about precisely the result Mr Abbott has been praying for all along: the effective collapse of the Gillard government’s majority.
But he probably wins either way it goes.
The focus on Mr Thomson’s activities as a union official before even entering parliament and therefore over his fitness to remain an MP, shows no signs of abating and that’s the real point.
This story dominates everything starving the Government of the oxygen needed to get its message out and fomenting an atmosphere of permanent temporariness - poison for a weakened prime minister.
But the fact is, almost nothing of what has been alleged about Mr Thomson’s performance as an HSU official was not already in the public realm before the 2010 election.
And the latest so-called evidence offered up by a cash-for-comment witness from the very profession so reviled by Thomson’s most affronted accusers, does nothing to illuminate the truth.
Still, the proponents of this controversy have never been too vexed about that. Neither has the Opposition.
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