Turnbull is not a fool.
Firstly, this is Turnbull’s second stab at the Liberal leadership. If he loses here, he’s almost certain to be infected with Kim Beazley Syndrome. The major symptoms of KBS include being seen as a safe “rebuilder”, but never Prime Minister Material; regularly being ousted before an election; and never becoming Prime Minister. Turnbull would not make this challenge without confidence in his support.
It’s Monday Night. That’s not just a work night, a high news-watching night and a night when the 7:30 report is on; it’s also #qanda night. Tonight is about as high-profile a news night as possible. Tonight is a high-stakes night for a challenge.
The Canning by-election is this weekend. Undercutting the Prime Ministership this week could be catastrophic if Abbott loses narrowly. Either Abbott needs a massive show of support (and all counts suggest the vote will be very close) or Turnbull needs to win to revamp Liberal support ahead of this weekend. On the other hand, as Dr Bonham observes the Libs have a habbit of voting to change leaders in the lead up to by-elections. Abbott came to power against Turnbull the week of a double by-election (Higgins and Bradfield) six years ago.
Turnbull has picked his moment, and taken his best shot. If he cannot win now, he cannot win.
Abbott is not a fool.
Abbott immediately called a party vote within just over five hours. That gives very little time to recall travelling MPs – most believed to be on Abbott’s side – rather than waiting a day. While political implications of waiting a day might be problematic, I’d be surprised if that was given more weight than keeping the leadership. Abbott knows that, now Turnbull can publically challenge and canvas, his support will only fall among the party.
Abbott knows he’s in trouble and trying to minimise damage. And it could work. I’m not saying this is an easily predicted vote; tonight hangs by a thread from a razor’s edge balanced on a very thin line.
The People of Australia are not fools.
Firstly, I’ve noted previously, betting odds tend to be reasonably indicative of voting results. True, voting may do so indirectly – people may bet for their favourites, and the most popular candidates do well in democracies. In this case, where the public’s preference does not influence the outcome, sportsbet.com is probably less indicative than previously. Nevertheless, here’s the odds only a few minutes out:
AND NOWWatching the people entering the room, it is obvious that the Turnbull team seems smaller and more resigned than Abbott. On the other hand, Abbott insiders are suggesting they're confident of 45 votes, and Turnbull think they're optimistically looking
Is the A team being conservative (pun intended)? Did I get it wrong? Did the good people on sportsbet get it wrong? Only time can tell.