Apparently political leadership is all about unity. Unity is much easier when there’s a common cause involved – particularly a cause of value, or one that people can unite to believe in.
Tony Abbott doesn’t really get it. In a manifesto on his political leadership he suggests being in opposition successfully is about being in opposition.
Mr Abbott said he would work to bring the party together because it’s easier to manage a party when they oppose rather than negotiate with the government.
“The best way to unite a political party is to really go after your opponents, which is what I intend to do,” he told the Nine Network today.”
I disagree. I think the electorate does too.
Successful “opposition” doesn’t depend on disagreeing with everything the Government puts forward.
K-Rudd started getting traction with the electorate when he positioned himself as the “alternative Prime Minister” and his party as the “alternative government”… I got so sick of hearing those words before the last Federal election was announced – but mostly because I didn’t like K-Rudd and I could see a correlation between those words and his boost in the polls.
Real leadership means offering policies and informed, decisive alternatives. Not just saying “they’re wrong” as loud as you can.
Peter Costello has a column in today’s SMH detailing his problems with Turnbull’s approach to leadership.
He acknowledged some strengths of his methodology. But diagnosed the problem with Turnbull’s leadership as an inability to cultivate much needed unity.
“To promote unity, Turnbull needed to give all the shades of party opinion a say in proceedings, and to promote colleagues on merit regardless of whether they voted for or against him.”
“A political leader cannot take his base for granted. He must give voice and confidence to the party membership. Australian politics is detribalising. Rusted-on supporters are fewer than ever. To keep those supporters, a party must nourish and respect them.”
Costello seems to think Turnbull was unable to cultivate unity because he was a grasping power monger climbing above his station. He’s particularly scathing on Turnbull’s public statements about Liberal Party colleagues.
I have never seen a Liberal leader attack senior colleagues in the way Turnbull did on the weekend. Turnbull’s attacks have been sharper and inflicted more damage on his colleagues than Kevin Rudd ever did.
If I was running the Labor Party’s campaign in the seemingly inevitable double dissolution election I would be rubbing my hands at the prospect of ads just featuring quotes from Liberal Party members about other Liberal Party members.