In a stroke of what can only be described as poetic justice, Scott Morrison was elected leader by the Liberal party room on Friday.
The former Treasurer secured 45 of the party’s 85 votes in the second and deciding ballot, proving once and for all that the Dutton/Abbott camp were fibbing all along when they claimed to have the numbers.
We already suspected this to be the case, given it took the rebels two days to furnish the 43 signatures they claimed to have on Wednesday night.
In the end, a couple of Mr Turnbull’s supporters added their names to the list, simply to bring the sorry mess to a close.
If there’s one thing that’s been made crystal clear by this saga, it’s that the reactionaries and their strategists – who boast long and loud about the epic nature of their political smarts – lack even the organisational skills to run a chook raffle, let alone a coup.
They made their run too early, failed in creating the momentum needed to secure additional votes, annoyed journalists by deliberately feeding them misinformation, and lost votes by bullying MPs.
And they did this while publicly proclaiming that their wrecking behaviour was intended only to ‘re-unify’ the shattered Liberal party.
Thankfully, the majority of Liberal MPs saw straight through these antics, seeing it as the desperate behaviour of a few ambitious men being manipulated by a few vengeful others.
The prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was mortally wounded this week by those who would never forgive him for toppling Tony Abbott (although it should be remembered Mr Abbott toppled him first).
But as we saw from today’s vote in the party room, Mr Turnbull’s failure as PM didn’t mean the party had to embrace Peter Dutton and consequently lurch to the right.
We first got an inkling of this ‘other’ resistance during the party room meeting when Mr Turnbull called for a vote to spill the leadership positions.
The motion was carried 45 votes to 40, indicating that 40 MPs would have preferred Mr Turnbull to remain as PM.
That was a strong rebuff of the wrecking campaign that had brought MPs to the point of tossing out yet another prime minister.
Scott Morrison’s winning vote of 45 to 40 votes was confirmation of that rejection, which won’t go down well with those who’ve worked so hard to destroy Malcolm Turnbull.
It’s already been noted that the majority vote for Scott Morrison was also a vote for continuity of the Turnbull agenda. As Treasurer in the Turnbull government, Scott Morrison drove its economic agenda and will be able to continue to lay claim to its success.
Mr Morrison certainly doesn’t have the same progressive principles that Mr Turnbull claimed to have, but he’s unlikely to have much time for the favoured causes of the reactionaries either.
However the thing that will sting most for the Abbott camp, which was instrumental in the Dutton putsch, is that its members despise Scott Morrison almost as much as they loathe Malcolm Turnbull.
They blame Mr Morrison for not directing his supporters to vote for Tony Abbott during the last leadership challenge.
This is where the poetic justice comes in – the rebels essentially tore the Liberal party apart to oust one traitor to the ‘conservative’ cause, Malcolm Turnbull, only to see him replaced by the conservative ‘turncoat’ Scott Morrison.
That means schadenfreude for the rest of us.