The Roman historian Tacitus coined the phrase ‘fortune can bestow no greater reward upon us than discord among our foes’. Recently, Julie Bishop announced her retirement from politics. She is the latest example of a rat departing a sinking ship. I view the category five storm that has erupted as a result of Ms. Bishop’s recent interview as a fine example of fortune’s greatest reward. So, I want to look at the five takeaways from the interview offered by the West Australian in a recent piece and what they mean for the Liberals moving forward.
Self-Aggrandisement and Deflection
First, Ms. Bishop said, somehow with a straight face, that she believed that her popularity with the voters (source unknown) could have ‘saved the coalition at the coming poll’. The immediate issue, as the article noted, is Ms. Bishop’s unpopularity with the group Julia Banks called the reactionary right. It is unlikely that such a group would tolerate a female leader, even from their own side (to say nothing of how they treated Julia Gillard). Ms. Bishop appears to live in a parallel universe.
Second, Ms. Bishop blames fellow departing rat Christopher Pyne for undermining her attempt to assume leadership during the LNP civil war last August. In the leadership ballot, she received a mere eleven votes. How this is Pyne’s fault is less than clear. If you wish to blame Dutton that is something else, but as big an annoyance as I think Pyne is, I do not see the evidence that it was Pyne who kept Ms. Bishop out of the lodge. A far more likely reason, as the article makes clear, was the reactionary right.
Third, as much as the article is trying to frame this as essentially an inter-WA struggle, I think it misses the larger point: the LNP is at war with itself. Barnaby Joyce said the Nationals should take a separate Senate ticket to the election in NSW. Now Ms. Bishop has made quite the parting shot. This is not, evidently, the case is only one state. Their leadership is ineffective, with ProMo (Morrison) and Friesenburger (Josh Frydenberg) having the communication skills of Helen Keller. In addition, the rest of the party is either nowhere to be seen, or publically separating themselves from the plague-infested corpse that the LNP has become.
This is not purely a partisan criticism (valid as that would be). Rather, this is a critique of governmental effectiveness, which can, to a great extent, be measured. There are several issues on which no LNP policy is defined, from climate (ProMo reanimating the corpse that is the former Abbott government’s climate policy does not count) to the economy to humane treatment of refugees. They are such ideologues and reactionaries that they are forced to oppose and fear monger about even humane treatment of people seeking protection from bullets and bombs, often fired or dropped by the west.
The theme of the campaign this time (as it has been for the last six years if we are realistic) is fear mongering about race/religion plus a healthy serving of ‘Labor bad because Labor – did I mention Labor? Labor bad’. Examples of this abound, but the best example from recent memory comes from Friesenburger. A journalist asked him about some policy issue or other, and he responded with ‘we can talk for hours about Labor’s faults’ – not the question and a red herring to distract from your own internal chaos. Blaming the opposition for existing is not effective governance!
But back to the plot. The fourth point is that Ms. Bishop’s parting shot prevents the government from getting ‘clean air’ and places it on the back foot. She is undermining the government as she leaves. Talk about a team player.
The final point the article makes is that the government is basically dead, and so the issue now becomes legacy rather than re-election. At first, it may seem curious how such a divine-right, born to rule group as the LNP could ever think that they would lose an election, but the recent spate of resignations suggests otherwise. But let us say the focus is now legacy. What would the legacy of the last six years be? The GP co-payment? Freezing the Medicare rebate? Utter climate inaction? Cutting penalty rates? The cashless welfare card? Making Tony Abbott the indigenous envoy? Michaelia Cash and her Whiteboards?
Ms. Bishop’s parting shot and the rest of the LNP’s internal chaos reminds me of a saying my grandmother used to us;
Fight you buggers, I hate peace.
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!