Newman backflips don't work
Voter support for the LNP continues to drop with one third of Queenslanders more likely to vote for them if Campbell Newman wasn't leader. Nine NewsPT1M24S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3cfn1 620 349 July 24, 2014
Campbell Newman's empty apology this week will neither calm voter anger nor quell LNP anxiety, and the Stafford by-election will almost definitely be headlines on his political epitaph.
This was a referendum on Campbell Newman and his leadership in an electorate that butts up against his own; a verdict handed down without the noise of the Palmer United Party nor the distraction of a Scott Driscoll.
The premier campaigned in Stafford and was the architect of policies judged by voters there. This was a practice run in his bid for a second term, and understandably a huge disappointment for middle of the road voters who wanted and waited so long for a conservative government after two decades of Labor.
What did voters decide? That they didn't like the premier's combative, fractious, bull-at-a-gate approach, and that they no longer believed what he said.
They had reason to think that. Remember his declaration in the wake of the Redcliffe by-election that he had learnt a lesson and would listen?
Stafford showed that to be a falsehood, and his protestations since Saturday only fertilise that view and suggest that he is probably incapable of changing.
He promises to consult over unpopular decisions he has made and then - before telling his own MPs - the changes appear in the media.
But even the changes show he has ignored those issues of most concern to voters, and he remains immoveable on those policies causing the party the most grief, and voters the most consternation.
Tim Carmody stays. So do electoral and donation laws. And the most unpopular parts of the bikie laws. Privatisation is non-negotiable. So is the make-up of his Cabinet. And, it seems, so is Campbell Newman's leadership style.
Sure he said he was sorry after - note, not before - his drubbing in Stafford, but then blamed voters because we didn't really understand what was going on.
And sure he was sorry - but then he quickly explained that we shouldn't be focusing on him because it was that lot in Cabinet he led who deserved to be in our targets.
The fact is Campbell Newman's Cabinet has had very little say in big decisions, even in their own portfolios. The best example, as I've explained in a previous blog, was the appointment of Tim Carmody.
That type of leadership works when your popularity is unassailable and your authority unquestioned.
But that's now well and truly over and senior party members are now quietly wondering who should play a role in a succession plan.
Tim Nicholls? Lawrence Springborg? John-Paul Langbroek? Ian Walker? Scott Emerson? That's sensible - and should have been done before now.
On current trends, if Newman runs in Ashgrove, which butts up against Stafford, he will lose. And the party will need to spend bucket loads of money to try and ensure that doesn't happen.
That's why Campbell Newman - and the party - has no choice but to move seats.
And that means squibbing on an iron-clad guarantee that he wouldn't cut and run.
That makes it difficult for him, but also for the LNP which has now trashed an impregnable majority in less than two years.
Campbell Newman needs to understand that he is the problem here, not the solution. And if he doesn't make the decision, some in his own party will do it for him.
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