Divided Liberals one spark away from crisis

Divided Liberals one spark away from crisis, by Greg Sheridan.

The Liberal Party today is in the grips of a terrible crisis of faith that could well destroy the Turnbull government.

The financial membership and activist base of the party is substantially alienated from the Coalition government. The backbench is substantially alienated from the cabinet.

The situation within the party is much closer to tinder-dry scrubland before an oppressive summer than anything else. All that is needed is a spark.

If Malcolm Turnbull misjudges action on the Finkel review on energy this could well occasion a party crisis. The biggest disaster for the government in the Newspolls is not just losing 14 in a row, but the steady rise of the vote for Pauline Hanson, now 11 per cent nationwide. …

The Prime Minister is now in exactly the same position that Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd ­occupied before him — a prime minister who has lost touch with his supporters and seems to have no idea how much trouble he is in within his own party. …

Starting with a budget that made no effort to reduce the deficit, followed by the Finkel review that made no serious effort to reduce electricity prices and now the Gonski 2.0 debacle, the activist base of the Liberal Party has gone from being just resigned to almost inevitable defeat at the next election to being actively angry with its government.

As one long-serving Liberal put it to me: “There is no Coalition voter base we won’t attack. We started with the superannuants. Then came the Catholics. What next? Do we impose a special levy on the benefits of all returned servicemen and donate it to the ABC?” Another said: “It’s hard to see what reason people would have for voting for us.”

hat-tip Stephen Neil