News National The Liberals have brought it on themselves
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The Liberals have brought it on themselves

Failed would-be Victorian premier Matthew Guy and poll-flunking would-be PM Scott Morrison. Photo: AAP
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The turkeys voted for Christmas.

That’s the only conclusion to be drawn from the latest Newspoll, which predicts a bloodbath of 21 Coalition seats to be lost at the next election.

The two-party preferred vote is unchanged at 45-55 in favour of Labor for the second consecutive poll.

Compare that with The Australian‘s final Newspoll before the turkeys voted to kill Malcolm Turnbull: Labor in front 51-49, but the Coalition within striking distance.

Many of the architects of the August coup – including Peter Dutton, Health Minister Greg Hunt and Victoria’s Michael Sukkar – are at risk of being booted from Parliament on those numbers.

As Scott Morrison returns for the final sitting fortnight of the year – his first in a hung Parliament after the Wentworth result – it’s not hard to see why an ambitious MP might want to cross the floor and make a name for themselves by supporting an anti-corruption watchdog. Queensland MP Llew O’Brien is considering it and others may follow.

It was all too much for former PM Malcolm Turnbull not to smash the “like” button again on two tweets on Sunday mocking Sky News commentator Rowan Dean for suggesting the Victorian result was his fault.

turnbull like twitter

Fresh from being threatened with expulsion from the Liberal Party for liking similar tweets, the former PM has clearly determined that he will continue to “like” whatever tweets he chooses and the conservatives of the Roseville branch can go to hell.

The Victorian result raises genuine questions about the wisdom of a law and order campaign ramping up fear around crime and terrorism. Perhaps the frontman matters, with voters lacking enthusiasm for Matthew Guy.

But Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s claim that Victorians were too scared to go out to dinner because of African gangs has clearly gone down like a dodgy vindaloo left out in the sun.

On election night, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg dutifully trotted out the line that this was a state-based campaign fought on state issues.

Even he doesn’t believe that. In fact, the Labor Party’s negative advertisements heavily featured Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison plastered next to opposition leader Matthew Guy.

Anecdotally, ALP campaigners say that Liberal voters told them when doorknocking that they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the Liberals because of the “chaos in Canberra”.

As Labor’s Richard Marles pointed out, the Victorian state seats where 10 per cent swings came in correspond with the Liberal-held federal seats of Deakin, La Trobe, Chisholm, Aston and Casey.

But the Newspoll number in The Australian that would be really making MPs shudder is the primary vote. It was down another point to a crushing low of 34 per cent.

To put that in context, the primary vote under Mr Morrison’s leadership is less than the combined Liberal Party and National Party vote of 30.4 per cent for the Liberals and 5.4 per cent for the Nationals.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews allowed himself the indulgence of a personal attack on the Liberal Party president Michael Kroger on Sunday.

“I don’t often commentate on our political opponent [Kroger], but you know, swanning around the suburbs that you’ve never been to in your Burberry trench coat, lecturing people about the cost of living – people pick fakes and they pick nasty fakes from a long way off,” Mr Andrews told the ABC’s Insiders.

Oddly, Mr Morrison failed to put out a statement congratulating Labor on the Victorian result, which is poor form.

To protect everyone’s dignity, the less said about Mr Morrison extending his lead as preferred prime minister to 46 per cent, with Mr Shorten down to 34 per cent, the better.

The only figure that counts is the primary vote and the two-party preferred vote. Anyone who tells you otherwise is embarrassing themselves.

Unless and until that “popularity” question extends to lifting the primary vote, it’s a pointless beauty pageant that means little.

What can Mr Morrison do to turn the Titanic around? He has the mid-year fiscal outlook, MYEFO, coming up. Unless they bring forward the budget to March, Mr Frydenberg will never hand down a budget.

The strategy at the moment seems to be a fear campaign on cutting immigration and terrorism that didn’t resonate in the Victorian state election and a scare campaign on negative gearing that was rejected by voters at the last federal election.

The origins of the turkeys voting for Christmas jibe are traced to a British MP, but have been subsequently stolen by everyone from UK Prime Minister James Callaghan to former Labor leader Mark Latham.

It’s too good a line not to recycle as the Liberals ponder what they did that crazy day in August when they killed the sitting prime minister.

Or, to borrow the German phrase, “Only the most stupid calves would vote for their butchers”.

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