There are two coups in the air – one in Australia, and one in the United Kingdom. Let us take the UK one first.
As Labour MPs face decimation, Gordon Brown’s position is perilous. He may become the first UK Prime Minister since Neville Chamberlain to never face a general election.
The Telegraph reports:
Gordon Brown is being openly undermined by Cabinet ministers who are now publicly questioning his future as Prime Minister.
The Labour Party has no option but to replace him as leader or face certain defeat at the next general election, said one.
“We cannot go any lower,” the minister said, following Labour’s disastrous defeat in the Glasgow East by-election, one of the biggest upsets in political history.
“We are at rock bottom. The evidence is there for all to see. We are not a one-nation party any more. We are now a no-nation party. We cannot win in Scotland, we cannot win in England, we cannot win in Wales.
“There is only one thing that can be done, and it’s a change of leader.”
Another Cabinet minister added: “It has just moved from possible to probable that Gordon will be toppled.”
Apart from losing one of their safest seats, Labour is 22% behind the Conservatives in the latest polls – this would give them a 236 seat majority.
What will be interesting is who replaces Brown. It may be a poisoned chalice.
The other mounting coup appears to be in the Australian Liberal Party.
Peter Costello served as Deputy Leader and Treasurer to John Howard for over a decade. Howard refused to stand aside for him and when the Libs lost the 2007 election, it looked like Costello’s career was also over.
He did not contest the leadership post-Howard, realising Kevein Rudd could be expected to serve at least two terms, and that he was unlikely to survive to become PM one day. So he did not stand and made noises about retiring.
But things have changed. Brendan Nelson has been a very unimpressive leader, while the ambitious Malcolm Turnbull is mistrusted by many of his colleagues.
But why would Costello be reconsidering just because of that? It si because he thinks he can beat Kevin Rodd at the next election. Now Rudd is still very popular and ahead in the polls, but his focus on stunts is starting to gain negative publicity. But more relevant is the economy. Costelle presided over a decade of economic growth. If the Australian economy is not in good shape in 18 months time, then Costello will be seen as proven economic manager who could win against Rudd.
This is not as certain as Brown being a goner. But Costello is showing all the signs of keeping hos options open:
PETER Costello will map out an ambitious reform agenda in his political memoir – including a pathway to a republic – giving him the platform to launch a bid for the Liberal leadership.
The former treasurer will use his much-anticipated autobiography, to be published in October, to outline a list of priority reforms.
He will also lay out challenges facing Australia in a move to distance himself from John Howard’s “conservative” agenda.
And if things go well there may be a NZ leadership election later this year also!