Malcolm Turnbull probably doesn’t recognise that what he’s dealing with in Tony Abbott is just a bad-tempered two year old. The only difference is that Abbott knows he is being a naughty boy,, the two year old doesn’t.
But it is a great truth about dealing with recalcitrant children that giving in to their tantrums only reinforces the behaviours. It’s actually not all that hard to say no. It’s part of the process of teaching children that you can often get what you want by asking nicely and saying please but also that sometimes you don’t get what you want.
Now I understand that politics is not the same as bringing up grandchildren. I love my grandson in a way that Malcolm Turnbull is never going to love Tony Abbott. And I want to see him grow and prosper (another difference).
My beautiful grandson will argue the toss but he does listen to reason.
But I thought it might be useful for Malcolm Turnbull to see the latest onslaught from Tony Abbott’s fellow travellers in the light of the way we deal with recalcitrant children.
We were greeted with the news of the latest outburst in an article from Mark Kenny in The Age: Why Tony Abbott’s demand for a cabinet job comes with an implied threat
Tony Abbott wants the Indigenous affairs portfolio as a means of re-entering cabinet and securing a truce with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to an account given by his close friend Catherine McGregor.
“There is no one better suited” to the indigenous affairs role than Tony Abbott!!!
In a column published with Mr Abbott’s permission following a conversation, Ms McGregor declared plainly that “Abbott is not for leaving” and argued bringing the ex-PM into cabinet would force the discipline he is accused of lacking.
“Being pragmatic, Abbott actually believes that the solidarity imposed upon him by the cabinet is the best insurance against his being deemed a wrecker,” the former high-ranking military officer wrote in News Corp papers. “Only the discipline of the cabinet can completely align Abbott with his own avowed mission, the re-election of this government.”
Paraphrase this to say: “Tony Abbott will only behaved himself if he gets his own way.”
And my betting is that Malcolm Turnbull will give in. He’s been giving into the right wing of the Parliamentary Liberal party since he was elected leader and is going to be a difficult habit to break.
Mind you, he is not looking particularly happy about it.
The difficulty in our faces is that he has wasted all the political capital he had when he was first elected to the Prime Ministership. With a commanding lead in the polls and stratospheric personal popularity ratings, Turnbull could have read the riot act to people like Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz and their ilk. But he didn’t. And now he looks like such a bad bet electorally that he has lost all of his credibility and leverage within the party.
It is really only a matter of time before someone, and it’s probably not going to be Tony Abbott, puts him out of his misery.