Who’ll be PM on Wednesday?

Cover of John Winston Howard: The Biography

It’s a good thing John Howard’s very bestest of best friends George W Bush left APEC a day early. Howard could avoid talking about yet another fall in the opinion polls.

On the cover of the recent Howard biography (left), the Man of Steel looks stern and concerned. Apt. If those poll figures are repeated on election day, even with the usual minor swing back to stability, it won’t just be a Labor victory. It’ll be a complete rout of the Liberal/National Coalition.

APEC won’t be the poll boost Howard was looking for. John’s Bestest Best Friend stumbled through his speech like a village idiot — you choose good friends, John! Kevin Rudd looked like a 21st century statesman, cracking jokes in Mandarin with the Chinese president.

Pretty much everybody is saying it’s time for Howard to go — as Annabel Crabb’s witty poem makes clear. But the Man of Steel is in his bunker, fighting to the end.

I do intend to contest [the election], I intend to contest it as leader. That question was settled last year.

In the SMH today, Peter Hartcher says the Coalition would be mad to switch leaders now. I disagree.

Hartcher says the voters dislike Peter Costello even more than Howard, which is doubtless true. But Costello isn’t the only option — and anyway he didn’t wait all this time to become PM only to lose an election a month later. Peter Coorey says Malcolm Turnbull or anyone else at this stage would guarantee disaster. Again I disagree.

This is a disaster already. Pretty much every commentator — apart from Howard’s troglodyte bunker-mates — agree the Coalition will almost certainly lose. It’s now not about winning the election but of salvaging what you can from defeat. And maybe, with a higher-risk approach, the Coalition can still snatch a victory.

If the election is, as Christian Kerr says, a battle between good economic management and the It’s Time factor, if the voters think Howard is yesterday’s man with yesterday’s vision, then they need to change that perception now.

Costello’s out. The poisonous Tony Abbott wouldn’t exactly woo the punters. Brendon Nelson just spent $6 billion on un-needed military aircraft which should have someone phoning to check with the Australian Commission Against Corruption — oh hang on, we don’t have one.

I never thought I’d ever say this. Malcolm Turnbull looks the best choice. I guess that just goes to show how completely screwed the Coalition is.

4 Replies to “Who’ll be PM on Wednesday?”

  1. A poster on Pollbludger started spreading a false rumour around the blogtraps that Julie Bishop was going to get the nod and the media commentators fell for it!

    Mal is the best option, but I don’t think the Libs party machine could handle it. I think there needs to be some internal restructuring before you could have a genuine small ‘l’ liberal heading the Coalition again.

  2. @Snarky Platypus: Oh, you shouldn’t mention Julie Bishop again, you just know I’ll have to link back to the relevant post.

    Now, with that out of the way, yes you’re right. The Liberal party, particularly under JWH, has become so socially conservative and so fearful of what a few loud-mouthed religious nutters say that they need a complete flush-through with a wire brush.

  3. Just spotted by me, though published by Annabel Crabb this morning:

    Malcolm Turnbull, speaking to Fran Kelly on Radio National this morning, gave a brilliant performance.

    Asked twice whether Mr Howard was the Coalition’s best chance, he fudged for Australia, giftedly wittering about the PM’s record for several minutes before using that familiar form of words beloved of those in his situation: ‘There is no challenge’.

    Expect to hear more of that statement, with its dogged present tense, throughout the coming days.


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