Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Costello vs Howard: The Gloves Come Off

I didn't mean to add to it in my previous post, but it looks like Peter Costello's backers have begun a well co-ordinated plan to hoist him into the top job, with former Liberal MP Ian McLachlan revealing that Howard and Costello had worked out a leadership handover deal in 1994 - claims that have subsequently been denied outright by Howard. His usual media pals, such as Glenn Milne have come out in force to suggest that Howard's time is over. I never thought I'd see the Daily Telegraph using the famous `Mean, Tricky and Dishonest' quote as their banner headline.

Costello's supporters must know that Costello does not have the numbers, either within the party or the public, to oust Howard. Obviously, the intent of planting such stories is to gradually change the opinions of both - to paint Howard as sneaky for going back on his promise to the public, and to suggest to the party room that Costello's ascendancy is not only long overdue but was endorsed by Howard. However, as Peter Hartcher suggests, such a technique could backfire in both instances. The result of the Pittwater by-election shows us how little regard people have for back-room dealing and the manoevering of politicians into places to which the public has not voted them. The ALP has attempted to demonstrate how mean, tricky and dishonest Howard is for ten years, and it hasn't stuck. More crucially, I just can't see that the story is enough for many backbenchers to switch their allegiances.

No doubt the story will continue, but as Cut Price Commentariat opines - what good will it do? The media influences public opinion, but generally, they build mountains on grains of truth, suspicion or prejudice, whereas the recent reports don't appear to be a reflection of any real political or public will to get rid of Howard.

A shame, of course ...