Grass roots revolt the biggest fear for battered Libs
The Liberals are currently staggering around the corridors in Parliament House like a bomb has gone off. In political terms it kind of has. The past 36 hours has smashed Malcolm Turnbull’s authority, failed to produce a viable alternative candidate for the leadership, transformed manageable differences of opinion into bitter personal hatreds, left the frontbench a mess with three resignations already and possibly more to come, not to mention a looming reshuffle just to add further fire to an already incendiary situation.
Liberal MPs are openly talking about their sadness at the way the whole thing crashed around their ears. They are worried about their seats and had wanted one of two things to happen - to achieve a quiet consensus on a CPRS deal and to quietly pass the legislation, or for the talks with the Rudd Government to fail and to vote against it. Instead they have got open internal warfare.
Their biggest fear is how it will play out with traditional Liberal Party voters who cannot fathom the logic of what the party has done in embracing a lose-lose situation, whereby people who believe in climate change will give full credit to the Government for introducing a CPRS, while people who do not believe in climate change will punish the Opposition for backing it.
“We are getting hundreds and hundreds of emails, literally hundreds, attacking us for what we have done,” one MP said. “I can recognise a lot of their names…it is all downside. Their is no political benefit in it for us at all.”
At the same time the Nationals are receiving emails from Liberal Party voters who are saying they are furious their party went along with Rudd, and intend to vote for the Nats next time for taking a blanket stand against the CPRS.
On top of this policy failure, where the Libs logically win no credit from greener voters and nothing but condemnation from skeptics, there is a truly unmanageable sense of hostility that MPs are likening in its venom to the DLP split which kept Labor in the wilderness for so many years.
The hardcore of right-wingers - the likes of Nick Minchin - who did everything to stop the CPRS are being accused of recklessness, disregard for the good of the party, even stupidity in allowing this debate to turn into a leadership issue but then failing to find plan b in the form of a viable candidate to roll Turnbull.
But others in the party are equally venomous in their abuse of Turnbull - Peter Slipper even went so far as to liken publicly him to Robert Mugabe, others have labelled him arrogant, imperious, a bully, mad, abusive, insulting, an emperor…on and on and on.
Labor at present does not need to bother making negative ads for the next campaign as the Libs in the past 36 hours have done it all for them. And that will trickle down to voters in marginal seats, many of whom don’t love Rudd but who would have a bit of a giggle at the idea of voting for this lot, who can’t even organise a leadership spill properly.
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