John Howard is a great Prime Minister and deserves to be re-elected but it looks like he will not be. The question is whether Howard will lead the Liberal Party going into the election or whether he will be replaced today by Peter Costello. Given Paul Kelly’s account in The Australian today Howard has serious problems, if not immediately, then in the lead-up to the election. Kelly’s claim is that Howard has lost the support of most members of his cabinet.
I think Howard should be retained as he offers a faint chance of drawing things back for the Coalition versus none at all from Peter Costello. If the primary vote polls are driving opposition to Howard then the personal approval polls should provide support for Howard.
I disagree that Howard is holding the party to ransom by not resigning. Howard is simply being consistent with his long-held view that he has the best chance of winning. I think he is correct.
I also disagree that Peter Costello - a man I admire - is displaying cowardice by not challenging. At this stage he cannot challenge and history is, well, history - yes it might have been better in retrospect if he had done in last year. If there is an electoral rout of the Liberals Costello will have attractive options outside politics anyway. Good luck to him!
The rat-left press (particularly Australia's worst newspaper The Age) have pursued an unrelenting campaign against Howard that was based purely on their intention of driving the last coffin nail into the Coalition. Their campaign may now turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It will be an interesting Liberal Party meeting this morning. I’ll update then
Update: Nothing happened. Costello will back Howard. Watch the gutter media work hard to turn this nothing into something.