Are the Liberals beginning to think the unthinkable?

The Australian reports: “The Liberal Party is so demoralised by Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership that some in its upper echelons are now contemplating the previously unthinkable in the event of a shock election defeat: a return to Tony Abbott.

The pressing concern for Turnbull is the conservative revolt under way inside his own party. Many Liberal voters did not like the big spending, big taxing budget. They are seething over the retrospective changes to superannuation. They are appalled by suggestions the party would swap preferences with the Greens. And they are still smarting over the leadership coup.

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 For many in the Liberal party, the ties say it all.

It has even sparked a new movement of disaffected Liberals who say they won’t vote for the party at all, or who may register a protest vote in the Senate by temporarily switching their allegiance to the Liberal Democrats led by David Leyonhjelm.”

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David Leyonhjelm might get lucky

There is no doubt that there are people within the Liberal party who would like to see Tony Abbott returned as party leader. This is because they see him as the true custodian of the conservative values of the Liberal party.

It is quite possible that the Liberals are facing an internal crisis that has unfortunately surfaced during an election campaign. The election of Turnbull to the leadership  (and what appeared to be a certainty that he would lead the Liberals to election victory) meant that the influence of the conservative right within the party would be diminished for at least one and possibly two terms of government.

So the question for the right of the party is simple: Do we throw support behind Turnbull in the hope that he can win government and we can keep his left-when tendencies under control or do we undermine him and accept the fact that we will have at least one term of a Labor government?

The downside of supporting Turnbull is the emergence of a re-energise leader and a shift  towards the centre and away from the right. The upside of a Labor government, which may possibly be a minority government, is that the return of Tony Abbott as Opposition leader gives the Liberal party are very effective leader in opposition.

The fundamental flaw in this particular line of thinking is that Abbott is immensely unpopular in the electorate and his return as opposition leader would almost certainly see  Liberal party support go into what could be terminal decline.

Nonetheless, it is highly likely that the arguments within the party are being mounted in terms of a battle for the heart and soul of liberalism in Australia and some of the hard heads may just be taking a very long view.

 

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