It seems Australian Prime Minister John Howard may not only lose government to Kevin Rudd and the Labor party at the next election but may lose his own seat as well. A poll out today has it that Maxine McKew, an ex-current affairs and popular ABC TV host, standing for Labor in Howard’s seat of Bennelong in Sydney, would easily have unseated Howard had an election been held this weekend.
So where does this leave Howard? His ego won’t allow him to lose and the poll margin of 4% (representing a 6% swing to Labor in a seat that only requires a 4% swing for Labour to win) has McKew in front enough that even if the Liberal Party political fortunes were to generally change in their favour by the time of the next election, it more than likely would not change quite enough to save Howard’s own seat. McKew, not taking anything for granted, and despite the figures, reckons it will still take a ‘miracle’ to unseat the Prime Minister despite the polls verdict suggesting otherwise. But the question is; will Prime Minister Howard be willing to risk the ignominy of losing his own seat to Labor? And, of course, the worst case scenario for Howard would be for his government to retain power but for Howard himself to lose his own seat.
Howard has a deep, though somewhat warped and misguided, sense of Australian history; a history that he sees himself being a part of. However, a sitting Prime Minister losing his own seat, despite the fact that it wouldn’t be the first time, is not the kind of history that Howard would want to be remembered for.
It is these poll results, and the fact that the election is now only months away, that has now put Howard in somewhat of a predicament. He has repeatedly told the Australian people that he would not step down from the leadership while the Liberal party still wanted him to be leader. Next in line for the Liberal Party leadership is Treasurer Peter Costello. Problem is Costello leading the Liberal party into the next election would ensure disaster for the Liberal party. For the Liberal party and conservatives everywhere Costello has all the credentials required to be leader except one – he has negative charisma, which is even worse than having no charisma at all. The Liberal Party are very much aware of this and, besides, would hardly be wanting to change horses at this late stage even if Costello did have what it takes. Perhaps Howard should have handed over the reigns of power to Costello when he had the opportunity because now is too late – at least for the Liberal Party it is.
On the other hand Howard may see the writing on the wall for the Liberal government anyway, and not to mention his own seat, and decide to walk away from the leadership on the some other grounds like health and/or age/leadership burnout or whatever – anything to avoid the embarrassment of losing government and ones own seat at the same time.
Whatever happens at the next election, Howard is unlikely to remain Prime Minister. If his demise comes about by losing both government and his own seat than what better way could history take revenge on such a monumental liar as ‘Honest John’ Howard? And if he chooses to walk away from the leadership prior to the election then it would both ensure a Labor win and, at the same time, expose Howard for the transparent deceiver that he is.
Whatever Howard does he can rest assured that history will not treat him the way he imagines it would be. One can only hope that he lives long enough for him to witness how history will treat him. For him no punishment for his warmongering and inhumanity while he was in power could be worse.