A vote for the Liberals is not a vote for Malcolm

We all know that Malcolm Turnbull would not lift a finger to stop illegal immigration if things were up to him. The boats would just roll on in and nothing of consequence would be done. If you are looking for a reminder, you can find one here. He is a shallow narcissist, but most importantly represents none of the values that brought the Coalition to government in 2013. In contrast, I do not know what Bill Shorten himself believes, other than that he believes with all his heart that the polling shows that stopping the boats is a major aim across Australia. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for us, many of his Parliamentary colleagues prefer virtue signalling to winning the next election.

Here, however, is what we find today: Federal election 2016: Turnbull leaves Shorten at sea over refugees.

Malcolm Turnbull has captured the necessary spirit on asylum-seekers for a Coalition leader and confronted suggestions that he is “soft on boats”.

There was no lawyerly dissembling for the Prime Minister yesterday; no awkward body language nor any weasel words as he not only defended Peter ­Dutton’s unvarnished reality about the financial cost of taking refugees, but also refined and ­extended the argument.

Turnbull heartily embraced the Immigration Minister’s “brutal” and “no sugar-coated” view of ­illegal boat arrivals and the cost of caring for refugees after Bill ­Shorten tried to turn border protection into a positive for Labor.

He might well have picked up one of Tony’s old set of speaking notes as he left for the press conference. Even as dense as he is, he knows that in the party he is the nominal leader of, he has no choice but to take this line. The slightest softness and he might well be cut down overnight by the party room. But as the next para in the story puts it:

Labor hopes to prove Turnbull inconsistent and insincere on ­social issues he once supported.

And that’s just the point. Malcolm’s own personal beliefs count for absolutely nothing. This is the view of the party room and it is absolutely united on this one issue, which may yet be the decisive issue in this election. There is then the National Party after that.

The idea of voting out the Coalition to teach those traitorous 52 Liberals a lesson is so bizarrely self-defeating that it leaves me dumbfounded. Rather than being Machiavellian – daringly clever in achieving some subtle but desirable conspiratorial end – it is the absolute opposite. It can never make sense to give your enemies a victory they don’t deserve. Losing is not a form of winning. Malcolm being the empty suit he is, will soon find the international environment dominated by a new President of the United States who is in many important respects, the American Tony Abbott. Malcolm will therefore adjust his views to suit the time, and one can only hope that sometime in 2017, he will be given his own gold (Cartier) watch and shoved out the Parliamentary door. Malcolm’s authority is diminishing each day as others begin to see him for what he is. There is so much political insanity around, getting the Libs back may be one of the most crucial election results in Australian history.

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