If politics were a cricket match and Tony Abbott a batsman, he has been hitting Malcolm Turnbull all round ground since he lost the leadership. Tony Abbott is playing politics the way Dave Warner bats
You have to hand it to Abbott, for someone who was ignominiously dumped from the Prime Ministership and generally seen as a political disaster by his own party (to say nothing of the electorate), he is doing a remarkable job of staging his comeback.
It’s probably clear to anybody who is interested in politics that Tony Abbott wants his old job back. What the reason would he have for staying in Parliament?
He’s been denying this with the vehemence and frequency that belies his intentions. However, he was caught out at the Tory conference in the UK recently.
The Age (6/10/16); Birmingham: Tony Abbott has told right-wing allies in Britain that he believes he has a reasonable chance of becoming prime minister again, Fairfax Media has learned.
He has been aided by Malcolm Turnbull’s monumental political incompetence.
Turnbull’s first mistake is that he has been unable to establish and execute a clear policy agenda since taking over from Abbott. If he had pursued the political agenda that the Australian electorate generally expected of him, he may have denied Abbott much of the political oxygen that Abbott is currently using to survive. But Turnbull failed to do this.
Turnbull is short of ideas on neutralising Abbott
And this leads to the second huge mistake that he was made. He has adopted many of Abbott’s signature policies. He has failed to put his stamp on the government’s policy agenda. This has allowed Abbott to describe the government and its policies as “the policies of the Abbott-Turnbull government” leaving the perception in the public mind that Turnbull has no policy agenda of his own but is simply running with Abbott’s policies.
“So,” runs the argument, “Why not have the real deal?”
The same-sex marriage plebiscite is a wonderful example of how Turnbull has mismanaged Abbott and the right wing of his party. The plebiscite is an increasingly unpopular idea with the electorate but Turnbull has shown none of the political acumen that you would have expected from them and nailed his colours to the mast on this issue. It’s a lose-lose situation for him.
If he decides to abandon the plebiscite, Abbott and his supporters will brand him with being weak and untrustworthy. If it goes ahead, the political fallout will be considerable and Abbott has only to sit on the sidelines and watch what now appears to be Turnbull’s inevitable decline in the polls.