OPINION: Liberals should focus on plotting against Labor Instead of each other

OPINION BY: Dr Ian Cook, senior lecturer in global politics & policies at Murdoch University.

It was over for Malcolm Turnbull the moment he decided to take on the Abbott conservatives in the Liberal Party on setting emission-reduction targets.

Then it was even more over for Malcolm Turnbull when he called Tuesday’s leadership ballot and then when he won it 48 to 35.

So it’s just a matter of time.

Now isn’t quite the time to look to Turnbull’s legacy. Well, not for me. I need more time to think of something to remember him by. Other than his constant battle with the conservatives and their leader Tony Abbott.

But there is something bigger going on here than a spat over who gets to lead the Liberals to defeat at the next election. The Liberal Party is being split by the same sort of forces that are splitting conservative parties around the world. The main one is between free market obsessed anti-government conservatives with a conservative moral agenda and free-market skeptical government-tolerant liberals with a permissive approach to moral issues.

This division is as old as the Liberal Party itself. But the difference we are seeing in other countries is that the two sides can only work together when it comes to beating their opponents from other parties.

Once they beat their opponents they find it hard to find a middle ground. With the exception of tax cuts. But even here their can be different views on the strategic value of tax cuts.

The only question is whether the two sides of the federal Liberal Party can stop plotting against each other and start plotting against the Labor Party in time to stop an electoral disaster of the scale of the WA 2017 catastrophe played out at the federal level.

The real possibility is that they won’t.

Oh, and before Labor folk start popping the champagne corks at the prospect of facing Peter Dutton as Liberal Leader, can I remind you of how delighted so many of you were at the prospect of Tony Abbott’s leadership and how that worked out.

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