Coalition insider Niki Savva, Peter Costello’s former advisor and an acute observer of conservative politics, has delivered scathing analysis of prime minister Tony Abbott in The Australian today.
“Will he ever learn to speak to us like adults?” Savva asks.
Savva takes the PM to task over his recent pronouncements on Islamic State “coming after us”, as well as his attacks on the ABC, suggesting that in both instances, Abbott has overplayed his hand.
Back in February, when the prime minister’s leadership looked deeply troubled, Savva wrote a devastating column detailing poor relationship Abbott and his office had with many Coalition backbenchers, which culminated in to 39 MPs voting for a spill in the Liberal leadership.
Today she compares him to a Mad Max character “programmed to bludgeon rather than persuade” describing his comments about Islamic State “coming after us” as a “jarring, juvenile expression from a supposedly intelligent man was not the language of a commander-in-chief seeking to reassure his followers”.
“There is no doubt Abbott is using it relentlessly, ruthlessly, often crassly, to rebuild his stocks and wedge his opponents,” Savva says.
She doesn’t hold back about the ABC’s Q&A program featuring Zaky Mallah, saying it “was wrong on every level”, indefensible, and thus far, the broadcaster’s response has been inadequate.
But the problem, Savva argues, is it shouldn’t be the PM lining up to whack the ABC, comparing Abbott’s brutality to Keating, yet lacking the former Labor headkicker’s humour.
“Talking of leftie lynch mobs, asking whose side the ABC was on, demanding that heads roll, accusing the national broadcaster of betrayal — while consistent with Abbott’s view of the world that whoever is not with him is agin him and those agin him must be removed — was completely over the top,” Savva argues.
Then she zeroes in on the malaise she believes is inflicting both sides of politics – uninspiring leaders – with a warning that Turnbull remains in the wings.
Here’s how she sums up the shortcomings for both the PM and Bill Shorten:
Abbott’s fate hinges on the polls. Although they are trending the right way, they still show the Coalition is not ahead in a single state. Victoria remains a killing zone with the real prospect of the Liberals losing at least three seats: Deakin, Latrobe and Corangamite. What is really troubling the Liberals is the vote in Queensland and Western Australia, where Labor has picked up enough support since the election to be ahead or equal. The Coalition has to hold the line in the northwest to make up for expected losses in the southern states.
So there is no complacency in government ranks, though they remain grateful for Bill Shorten’s continuing contribution to their revival. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious to observe Labor MPs shaking their heads wondering why, with such a flawed prime minister, victory seems destined to elude them, just as Liberal MPs similarly ask themselves why Shorten, a weak leader with such poor judgment, is even in the hunt at all. The answer to both questions is the same.
Read her fascinating critique of Australian politics at the moment here.
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