Francis Vierboom's Blog

A blog about things. Mostly news, ideas, and Sydney

Malcolm – is it Custer or Gettysburg?

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Futile last stand or bloody turning point?

I woke up this morning and, for the first time I can remember, instead of tuning in to Glenn Beck’s Fox News show for my morning jollies over breakfast, decided to actually watch Sky News, where John Hewson (former leader of the liberals and noted ‘moderate’) practically had smoke coming out of his ears, ripping furiously into the Liberal party traitors. Just one part of a great spectacle over the last 24 hours, in which Malcolm has won plenty of plaudits, particularly for a great presser, although mostly from people who will never vote for him.

As Jacques at Club Troppo notes, “Malcolm’s PEI [‘Premature Eulogy Index’] has been steadily rising and has spiked exponentially this week.” The MSM – at least the Oz – seems to be cautiously espousing a ‘conventional wisdom’ that Mal is done for. Bernard Keane at Crikey thinks it’s all over. There are a few dissenting voices taking the longer odds on Malcolm – Larvatus Prodeo and Joshua Gans at core economics (whose site has unfortunately been hacked, no doubt by underground Austrian economist hackers.)

I personally would like Malcolm to survive, because like most bloggers, I think he’s put in a highly admirable performance, one in the finest traditions of Australian liberal (small l) politics.

Perhaps in perfect contrast to Glenn Milne, who this morning on Newsradio pondered ‘Why, politically, would the opposition support the ETS? Aren’t they the opposition?’, taking all his cues from the nihilist/obstructionist/Gingrichist playbook of the US Republicans.

But it clearly hangs in the balance. I tend to believe Ian McFarlane when he says that Turnbull still has the numbers as he did on Tuesday. But will the majority hold out through the weekend, with the talkback campaign raging, the ‘grassroots’ calling in and the News Ltd journos furiously writing the obituaries?

It may all hang on the legislation getting passed today. The committee inquiry stage of debate is scheduled to end today, which means that, as announced, the vote on the legislation in the Senate could take place this afternoon. However, by filibustering for a few hours, it sounds like insurgents will attempt to delay debate until next week, and keep the dream alive of capturing the party on Monday and turning the ship around.

There is a rarely used procedure in the senate that could ‘guillotine’ debate. However, to end debate, and assuming Fielding is not on board, at least one Liberal vote would be required! Probably more, as the Greens and Xenophon might not want to end it either.

I think it has already been speculated in the media that the Liberals could not vote to end debate against their own colleagues. But the internecine battle has probably reached a new stage in the last few days. A delicious possibility pops into my head. Is Malcolm calling Julia right now (Kevin is on a plane) begging for the guillotine to be called? Hand him victory today, and save him? (Or at least let him fall as a martyr with the ETS on his gravestone, rather than a noble but insignificant failure?)

And if you are Labor, and Malcolm is on the phone, saying either support me now, cut off debate, and pass the legislation, OR face Tony Abbott at the next election…what do you do?

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Written by Francis

November 27, 2009 at 10:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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