It’s taken 14 years for the Liberal Party to work Malcolm Turnbull, like a splinter, out of its flesh.
And in a final bout of demented junkie-scratching, they’ve finally done it.
In the end, the party’s break with him was not — whatever anyone says — about policy. It was, and always has been, the inability of the party to accept collectively that Malcolm Bligh Turnbull is one of them.
It’s the greatest rejection of his life. And this is a man whose mother walked out on him.
It’s also the most expensive, because in Mr Turnbull’s pursuit of acceptance within his party in this second period as its leader, he’s given up — to please them — so much of what he brought with him into politics.
It’s not just the millions he’s poured into the party’s coffers, or his preparedness to shut up about the republic, or same-sex marriage, or his belief in a market solution to carbon pricing or indeed his belief in non-interventionist government; all tributes he has shovelled in to the ravening maw of his party in an attempt to appease its fire gods.
(Also sacrificed: some other erstwhile pleasures of the Turnbull flesh, like yelling at people he thinks are stupid, and quoting Neville Wran.)
It’s that, in the end, it amounted to nothing.
Why did Turnbull get the sack? Good question
In the end, he led a party where it was possible for a right-wing minister (Concetta Fierravanti-Wells) to quit Mr Turnbull’s front bench this week on the grounds that the front bench didn’t have enough right-wingers, adding moreover that the Government’s handling of the same-sex marriage debate was part of her disenchantment with the PM.
Photo Right wing minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells quit on the grounds the front bench did not have enough right-wingers.
ABC News: Matt Roberts
Even though in that precise instance Mr Turnbull followed so exactly the proposal nominated by Tony Abbott (with a postal plebiscite SUGGESTED BY PETER DUTTON) that he spent several months being kicked around like a footy in his own electorate, the gayest in the country.
Such cranially painful non sequiturs are not even remarkable any more, in this environment.
And if the National Energy Guarantee — which became the issue around which the anti-Turnbull mob gathered, in the end, to light their petrol-soaked rags — was the work of careful consultation between the right-winger Josh Frydenberg and the energy industry, whose leaders came to the party room on their knees begging to be given this certainty, and if it had public support and potentially broad support across the Parliament, then none of that matters now, because it’s gone, whooshed away up that same mad pipe where the last few genuine attempts to arrive at some sort of part-way sensible national position on this particular policy issue went.
Why did Malcolm Turnbull get the sack from his party?
Especially at a point at which his Coalition government presided over jobs growth, an improving economy, and impregnable border protection — ordinarily the triple guarantors of a sound night’s sleep for Coalition governments?
When you ask his colleagues, you get a bit of awkward shuffling and some references to the Longman by-election and typically an insistence that this is about policy not personalities, which turns out to amount essentially to Mr Turnbull’s honouring of the Paris emissions targets to which Mr Abbott committed the nation in 2015.
Turnbull’s crimes a vibe thing
Malcolm Turnbull will go down in history as the prime minister most disproportionately and gorily executed by his colleagues on the most nebulous of grounds.
Essentially, his crimes against the Liberal Party were a vibe thing.
Even when he was doing what his conservative colleagues wanted him to do, he failed to convince them because deep down, they felt he didn’t really mean it.
Their fear always was that Malcolm Turnbull — despite everything he said — was secretly, in his heart, running a Labor government.
And isn’t that funny.
Because that’s exactly what they’ll now get.