Tony Abbott has replaced Philip Ruddock as the Chief Whip and further inflamed relationships with the backbench
Now how could you possibly dump someone who helps you on dress-up day.
But he did. The fact that the back bench is outraged means that this is probably another “captains call” and also evidence of Abbott’s increasing isolation from his political base.
Clearly, no one told Tony that this was going to be a very unpopular move given Ruddoch’s popularity within the party and his standing in the Parliament.
The reason for dumping Ruddoch was apparently dissatisfaction with the way the Chief Whip handled the spill motion.
Well, let’s look at some of the facts.
The vote against the spill motion, and in favour of the Prime Minister, was 61 votes to 39 which is about the reverse of the Prime Minister’s approval rating where over 60% of voters disapprove of his performance. Now you would think that there will be some gratitude to the Chief Work for achieving that kind of result. But no.
And then there’s the question of the original vote to appoint Tony Abbott leader of the then Opposition. Abbott scraped in by one vote against Malcolm Turnbull. Now he’s ahead by 22. That’s a fabulous performance. You’d think Tony would be grateful. But no.
The reason for the disastrous performance was that a large proportion of the Parliamentary Liberal party don’t want Tony Abbott to be leader. Ruddock was like Hans Brinker, the boy with this finger in the dike.
But this appears to be part of broader strategy in the the “good government starts today” approach. You blame everybody else except yourself for your failures.
Abbott’s attack on the Chair of the Human Rights Commission when she presented a report that was critical of the government’s performance smacks of Jeff Kennett’s attacks on Director of Public Prosecutions Bernard Bongiorno, and Auditor-General Ches Baragwanath. These attacks were widely regarded as being one of the reasons why he lost support in the Liberal party heartland.
While all this goes on, it is difficult to see who is actually running the country. Tony Abbott is expending all others in the jail shoring up as an political position rather than being the Prime Minister.