My latest for The Guardian went up yesterday, in which I look at why Abbott made his big announcement about putting the Greens last on HTVs when it seems to give him zero advantage over Labor.
Abbott is the leader the Liberals installed to reinvigorate their core support base, a mixture of right-wing social conservatives and IPA-style market fundamentalists. Yet the support for this agenda in voter land is far too narrow to win an election. Even many conservative voters prefer policies well to the left of the LNP’s, and Abbott remains a deeply disliked opposition leader.
His only saving grace was to be up against the “old Labor” project under Gillard. Because that project exposed the decline of Labor’s traditional institutions, it was easy enough for the party to get tied in knots trying to position itself as anti-Greens while at the same time being in a formal alliance with them. With Labor engaging in anti-Greens histrionics, Abbott could escape scrutiny.
Rudd’s return has neutralised this advantage and started to expose the inconsistency between Abbott’s small target image for swinging voters and the right-wing agenda he relies on internally. It means he no longer looks the safe pair of hands ready to take over after a period of disastrous ALP government.
The article also covers the electoral difficulties faced by the only Greens MP likely to be affected by the Liberal decision, Adam Bandt in Melbourne. Read the full text here.