Time for Turnbull to go nuclear and defy his tormentors
If you are gay, and lived in a country where that’s illegal, you know what it’s like to be blackmailed. To live in fear. Even if it didn’t happen to you, it happened to people you knew.
Even in post-decriminalisation UK it remained a danger for years, especially for those with a public profile. Even today, sportsmen, actors and politicians still cower in the closet for (mostly groundless) fear of exposure.
The victim loses all control over their life. The only way to get it back is to stand up to the blackmailers, taking the consequences now, at once. It might even avert catastrophe: like most bullies, blackmailers usually back down when confronted. But once you allow them in, paying off, again, again, and again, until you have no more, the consequences will still come. Only later, and after much misery.
Malcolm Turnbull is an unusual blackmail victim, with his blackmailers in plain sight. Their latest tactic is Peter Dutton’s semi-overt leadership bid. Why does this tiny minority hold such sway? What is it that Turnbull cannot face? If it’s because he wants everyone to like him, well, I can tell him, honey, that’s one way to make sure that you’re hated by just about everyone.
Does he see it as the only way to hold his party and government together? How’s that going for you, Mal? Is it because he’s not prepared to risk dying in a ditch for a simulacrum of LGBTI equality? Does he think we’re not worth it?
When he finally throws off the malicious influence of his detractors (who will continue to try to bring him down in any case: if not on this issue, then another), and becomes the man he really is, when he stands up for the things we all know he truly believes in and dares his tormentors to do their worst, he will find he has far more supporters than he knows. The Australian people are waiting for that moment, hoping against hope, that he can rise to the occasion. On Monday.
This is his moment of maximum opportunity and maximum danger. He must put aside fear of splitting the party, or losing power. Yes, he will risk those things. But equally, he may avert them. And they are not the worst he can endure. He only has to look in the mirror for confirmation of that.
Turnbull is not made to be driven by others, a clockwork puppet of inimical forces outside his control. He was made to command. He must rediscover what he is for. He must relish the battle. And it may be that, for the good of the party and the country, that battle is best conducted in opposition.
He must recognise that unless and until the baleful influence of Tony Abbott and the rest of the far right crew is destroyed, his party will remain, as it is now, unfit and unable to govern.