To merely entertain the idea of Julie Bishop as Malcolm Turnbull’s replacement is about as politically suicidal and as dumb as it gets.
First Graham Richardson floated the prospect in the Australian last week and on Friday, Catherine McGregor and Shari Markson in the Tele were talking up Bishop as a replacement leader.
Now I admire the writing, musings and judgement of all three but sometimes you’re left to wonder whether their assessments are just so much wishful thinking.
Too long in the media bubble perhaps.
You would have thought that given how Turnbull and his plotters and acolytes, of which Bishop is one, have trashed, wrecked and vandalised the party that they would have realised and understood their error, but apparently not.
Their denial and suspension of reality, is worthy of the Monty Python, Black Knight, “it’s just a flesh wound” sketch.
Up until the last few years The Liberal Party has been like the Uluru of Australian politics. It’s been a singular, monolithic feature of the political landscape. It’s been the Bamiyan Buddha statues of Australian politics.
But not any longer.
Because just like the Bamiyan Buddha statues, in the last few years the Liberal Party has been under siege and attack and blown to smithereens by political activists, subversives and insurgents under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull and his “loyal deputy” Julie Bishop and all the other cronies and sundry gypsies, tramps and thieves.
Bishop was also the “loyal” deputy to Malcom Turnbull the first time around and then the “loyal” deputy to Tony Abbott until he too was rolled and now the “loyal” deputy to Turnbull once again.
It’s funny that. It seems that whenever there’s a political night of the long knives, Bishop is at the scene of the crime as the “loyal” deputy.
To paraphrase and rework Oscar Wilde,
“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
And now some are talking her up as leadership and foreman material.
In politics as in life generally, perception is reality. And that is Julie Bishop’s problem.
The perception is that of a flakey lightweight with not a great deal of depth or substance. Now, she may well have these qualities in abundance but I would have thought that after almost 20 years in p[parliament she would have made more of an impact.
She comes up well in the active wear on the jogging tracks in Central Park in New York and on the red carpet at opening nights or swanning around the cocktail circuit at the UN but I can’t think of one singular, game changing, earth shattering initiative that she can lay claim to in any of the portfolios of which she’s been in charge. Minister for Aging, Minister for Education, Science and training, and Minister for Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s issues, all under John Howard and as Minister for Foreign Affairs under Abbott and Turnbull.
I mean, if we had a minister for nice or vanilla or blancmange, she’d be a perfect fit.
I hate to say it but in a game of word association, the word or words I would associate with Julie Bishop are pleasant and nice but also a bit ditzy, scatty and vacuous.
Too harsh you think?
Let me explain.
As recently as last week, after the High Court found against Barnaby Joyce with respect to the citizenship fiasco, Bishop tried to reassure those that would like to unwind some of the decisions Joyce had voted on, that they were an all of cabinet decision.
Now, this is naivety and ignorance turbo charged, in hyper drive and warp speed and at its worst.
After almost 20 years as the member for Curtin in WA, is she so totally lacking in understanding of how the machinery of government works?
She totally overlooked or was unaware that cabinet is just an instrument of party policy. The law of the land is legislated in parliament, first in the lower house and if it gets up, then the senate.
That’s the sum total of her understanding of how the system works.
Can you believe it?
And this is the person that some would like to see as Prime Minister.
I made the point in a blog post back in April this year about the rich irony when Liberal wet from Qld Liberal Warren Entsch and Julie Bishop was whining and whinging that changing leaders would be a disaster.
“..I said that he and Julie Bishop should know. Check how your polling’s been tracking. Check the result of the last election. Your man took you to a one seat majority. Your change of leadership has INDEED been an absolute disaster..”
I think Rowan Dean gets it right in his editorial in The Spectator this week
“..The only way back to electoral recovery and to beat Bill Shorten is for a re-directed Liberal party to get traction once more in the outer suburbs and regions where the swings against them are enormous.
Voters in the ‘burbs and the boonies will not fall for Julie Bishop.
The aggregate polls which show her to be popular are as misleading and as self-serving as those which initially said Mr Turnbull was popular – they draw on inner city lefties who are Labor and Greens voters anyway – and are of little assistance in determining whether someone can actually win a federal election…”
Remember that Hollies song from 1967, King Midas in Reverse.
The hook line went, He’s King Midas with a curse, He’s king Midas in Reverse. Well, that song could well have been about Malcolm Turnbull.
Everything he touches turn to crap.
Make no mistake a Prime Minister Bishop will be Malcolm Turnbull in stilettos. Malcolm Turnbull in a skirt, or if you like Queen Midas in Reverse.
And to further make the point it’s probably best to simply rework Bob Hawke’s observation about another Liberal Leader, Andrew Peacock in the context of the 1990 election campaign:
“..If the answer is Julie Bishop, it must be a very silly question..”