They point to Tony Abbottâ€™s own lagging numbers in the published polls and lukewarm support in the party room as proof of the need to change. Some believe he is unelectable, mind you the oneâ€™s saying it loudest are ex-Turnbull backers who watched from the sidelines in stunned silence as the Mad Monk nearly won an election in 2010 no-one thought even remotely possible.
While Abbottâ€™s aggressive style has been very much responsible for the Coalition being in the political ascendancy from the day he become Leader, itâ€™s starting to take its toll on perceptions of him. His bizarre nodding death-stare aimed at the perhaps deserving 7 networkâ€™s Mark Riley after he suggested Abbottâ€™s declaration that â€œsh*t happensâ€ in battle somehow diminished the contribution of one or other Australian servicemen will haunt him for a long time, supporters fear.
Meanwhile, Julie Bishop, while the subject of plenty of criticism from the big nobs of the party, including Chris Pyne and others, has a very strong base of support within the party, Liberal insiders say. Her backers believe she is perfectly equipped to take-down Julia Gillard in the first female-on-female leader political contest in Australian history. Once under-estimated and even widely mocked for her style and lack of intellectual depth, few are writing her off right now. Ill-fated efforts to talk her down or even challenge her by some rivals have gone nowhere.
â€œAbbott has got us so far but is now clearly a liability, we need a more nuanced and less threatening approach to seal the deal, many think Julie Bishop could be an excellent way to go, perhaps a year out from the next election when Abbott is really on the noseâ€ one supporter told VEXNEWS today.
She brings to the table, in a potential leadership showdown, pretty much every WA vote, moderates from NSW who have largely given up on one-time big ambition man Joe Hockeyâ€™s hopes and the prospect of several more from Queensland. It has been noticed â€“ from the rarefied heights of Tony Abbottâ€™s COS Peta Credlin down â€“ that Bishop has adopted the â€œBrendan Nelsonâ€ approach when it comes to even the most exotic and demanding of backbencher requests. She has visited Queensland very regularly in the past twelve months, insiders say, and would â€œattend the opening of an envelopeâ€ in a Liberal backbencherâ€™s seat if she thought she could win them over, one suspicious staffer told VEXNEWS. Few can keep up with the gruelling Brendan Nelson style pace she maintains, it seems.
Others say that the wily carnivore Victorian Senator Michael Ronaldson might even be about to re-enter the blood-thirsty number-crunching fray, possibly on Bishopâ€™s support, if Abbott continues to stumble. â€œRonnoâ€ is desperate to re-establish his king-maker cred after being ruthlessly shafted by Abbott from being a central political strategist to what he sees as a backwater in Veteransâ€™ Affairs and some think he could latch on to Bishop as the anti-Abbott forcesâ€™ best bet. He craves revenge.
An accomplished, beautiful and charming woman, several of the less-than-cultured Queensland members are apparently quite awestruck by her perfumed presence and would seriously consider Bishop if things became untenable for Abbott, as some fear they will be, insiders familiar with the matter are saying. The anti-Abbott forces have the numbers pretty much now, they believe, itâ€™s just a matter of time before they use them.