But since Malcolm Turnbull went on TV yesterday and set out in exact detail what he thought of Minchin and his ilk and the disastrous course for the future of the party if they had their way, commentators are suggesting that he went too far in his truthful assessment. For example, Milne writes:
Support for Mr Turnbull was haemorrhaging even before he embarked on a damaging series of media interviews over the weekend, including with the Nine Network's Laurie Oakes, in which he lashed Nick Minchin, Tony Abbott and "cuddly" Joe Hockey.I have to agree that the use of "cuddly" was not wise.
But every commentator and pollster in the land agrees with Turnbull's assessment of the coming disaster if Hockey takes over and does not get an ETS passed before the next election.
Everyone accepts that politicians lie in the course of leadership fights. Crises are denied, loyalties are pledged, and positions switched in extremely short order.
That's why the sudden outbreak of truth from Turnbull is something I find hard to criticise, even though I suppose it guarantees that even if did win, he'd only be able to pick a cabinet from about half of the party room.
But here is a really important point that has been poorly reported: I only understood yesterday (from watching Lenore Taylor on Insiders) that the party room numbers, when you include Cabinet members (and why shouldn't you?) did vote by a clear majority to pass the ETS (49 to 46, even including the Nationals. Exclude the Nationals and it was an even clearer win within the Liberals) That Minchin and Tuckey came out arguing that Turnbull did not have the numbers is based on a creative interpretation that you only count backbenchers when deciding party policy. How much sense does that make?
In other words, this entire leadership spill is, as Turnbull has been saying, simply about the losing side on a hard-fought policy issue refusing to accept the party room decision. As I have been saying over at Catallaxy, it seems that it's all about how they did not like the way Turnbull announced his win.
Well, if that is the calibre of the Minchin rebels, they actually deserve to be purged from the party, I reckon. If the party can't bring itself to split, I certainly hope that the electorate achieves the same result.
UPDATE: another point I forgot to make, and virtually no media commentator seems to have mentioned it either: Peter Dutton as deputy doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense when it's very unclear that he can hold onto his own seat, does it? If people thought it was a bad look for the party that Howard lost his seat last election, we now have the prospect of both a new leader and his deputy going down. It would be good for a gloat, but as even most Labor supporters would say, not having a reasonably strong opposition is usually bad for the country in the long run.
And another point: with all of this hoo-har about the (in truth, fake, right wing radio jocks led) Liberal grass roots uprising against the Party supporting the ETS, who exactly are those people going to rush to vote for in the next election anyway? The Climate Skeptics Party? (I am dying to see the quality of their candidates, and the loopy ideas they'll drag along behind them. It'll be One Nation all over again.)
UPDATE 2: Lenore Taylor in The Australian looks at the policy options the Liberals have, assuming the CPRS does not get passed after a Senate enquiry.
At some point, if they want any credibility at all, the party would have to come up with some policy that puts a price on carbon. And in whatever form you do it, you can call it a "tax on everything", as the Minchin followers are doing for the CPRS.
Given their rhetorical, the Minchin rebels have undercut the credibility of any alternative the Liberals can come up with, even if in fact it may be a better proposal than the Labor policy.