Ostensibly it’s an ideological war between the conservatives, slanting policies to preserve the privileges of the more wealthy, and those promoting more egalitarian legislation.
Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister of the UK between 1979 and 1990, and it was she who first coined the derisive name “wets”, for those members of the party she perceived as lacking in hardness, and willing to compromise with the union movement. In retaliation, those of her ilk were labelled “dries”.
Provocative for the “dries” was the 2017-2018 Budget released on the 9th May 2017 which funded major policies in education and health previously introduced by Labor when in office. Although these and other widely applauded initiatives in the Budget have been criticized by the Conservatives, it has been the Energy debate which seems to be generating the most heat. Particularly vocal have been coal promoting climate change skeptics who believe the issue could again be a vote winner for the Coalition.
Noteworthy is the fact that in spite of all the vitriol in the media, there is no groundswell of opinion within the party to dump Malcolm Turnbull as Leader. Even religious right champion Corey Bernardi had no criticism of him when he left to form his own Conservative Party. He is still preferred above Bill Shorten as preferred Prime Minister by 54.1% to 45.9% even after the recent in-fighting, according to a Sky News/ReachTEL poll 30 June 2017.
It is not surprising therefore that it was 54 year old Liberal “has been”, Campbell Newman, who last week became the first person to actually call on Malcolm Turnbull to resign. A little premature one would conclude, when no opponent has stepped up to the plate to challenge him.
The supposition is that Tony Abbott, like Kevin Rudd in 2013, is campaigning to regain the leadership he lost by 10 votes in a ballot on the 14th September 2015. There are good reasons for doubting this.
Tony Abbott was dumped because he refused to demote his controlling and obstructionist Chief of Staff Peta Credlin. He was well-liked and there would have been no ballot against him had he heeded the unanimous advice of his colleagues and severed his intimate and dependent relationship on her. His was virtually an Edward VIII-like abdication of office. It was his choice, and at the time, he made a commitment not to undermine subsequent leadership. He cannot expect to make a come-back just because she may now have side-lined him.
A Sky News/ReachTEL poll 30 June 2017 showed that 72.8% of Coalition voters prefer Malcolm Turnbull over Tony Abbott. Would Abbott really wish to further undermine his standing within the Liberal party by compromising its chances of re-election?
Tony Abbott is now 60 years old, has an intermittent tremor and mask-like facies that might indicate latent health issues.
If he is not providing the impetus for a change in Liberal leadership, from where is it coming? Clearly it is not from within the party, so perhaps the leading contender is the Sky News Bolt Report on which the hauntingly beautiful Peta Credlin appears. Tony Abbott often praised her as as a fierce warrior, and has suggested that she would be an ideal candidate for Liberal Party preselection.