Peter Slipper is a seriously dodgy figure and a liability for the Labor government. By my hazy estimates Labor currently has 71 MP’s, plus Thompson, Bandt, Oakeshott and Windsor will all support Labor on a vote of confidence which makes for 75 votes. The coalition meanwhile has 72 votes, on matters of confidence Katter will probably vote for them and if Slipper resigns as speaker he will probably vote against Labor too. So that makes 74 votes. Andrew Wilkie will abstain on votes of confidence I believe. So if a Labor MP was to sit as speaker Labor would have seventy four votes plus the speaker would get to cast a deciding vote, all of which is to say that if Slipper was dumped Labor would still command the confidence of the House of Representatives. Which is why I was of the opinion Labor should rid itself of that vile man and introduce its own motion of no confidence in the speaker today and elect Anna Burke to the top job.
When Labor announced they would be opposing a motion to remove Slipper from the post I groaned. Why oh why would they allow themselves to be shackled to that vile contaminant . Labor stuffed up on a grand scale today and the coalition should have landed itself an easy win. And to their credit Julie Bishop, Chris Pyne and Warren Truss acquitted themselves admirably on the floor of the House as they cogently argued that Slipper was tarnishing the integrity of the parliament. It should have been an easy win for the coalition, Labor was defending the indefensible and any predictable course of actions today would have cultivated a perception of corruption and sleaze within the current government. But Tony Abbott took an unpredictable course of action and decided to invoke the sordid words of Alan Jones in his confidence motion today.
It was a heinous display of hatefulness and on national television. In full view of the national press he carefully chose his words in a way to inflict as much personal suffering as possible. By alluding to the tawdry, squalid remarks of Alan Jones when he declared that Julia Gillard’s father died of shame Abbott chose to associate himself with Jones words, he implicitly endorsed them. Given the universal roasting that Jones has received over the past weeks I can’t fathom how Abbott ever came to think it was a good strategic move. In fact I almost don’t believe he thought it was a good strategic move, it was one he must have known would play out badly but he thought it was worth it anyway. So driven by malice and vindictiveness he made the calculated assessment that it was worth sacrificing a little political capital in order to inflict hurt in the way he did. Julia Gillard is being praised for blistering reply today but it was only enabled by the political ineptitude of one Tony Abbott. Were it not for Abbott’s obscenely personal remarks at the dispatch box, Gillard’s speech would have been little more than an irrelevant, albeit valid, diatribe but Abbott’s idiocy gave it legitimacy. Polling makes it very clear that across the nation there is deep dissatisfaction with Julia Gillard’s leadership and voters are desperate to be given an alternative Prime Minister but once again Tony Abbott’s chance seizure of the Liberal Party leadership has rendered the electorate with a choice nobody wants to make.