It was way back in 2009 that the pond used to mock Philip Ruddock for his wearing of an Amnesty badge after a useful life helping set up and run the gulags ... but then the Amnesty badge was a long running saga, as you can find by resorting to the AM archive in 2000, and Ruddock stripped of Amnesty International Badge ...
Now he's been de-whipped by Abbott, it's hard to shed a tear.
But it is possible to dance with delight at the uproar that's followed.
The reptiles - who better to report on the internal machinations of the Liberal party than the government's propaganda press? - report internal rumblings of a querulous kind:
Tony Abbott’s shock decision to dump Philip Ruddock as chief government whip has reopened divisions on his backbench, with MPs angry they were taken by surprise by the move...
The decision renewed rumblings about lack of consultation between the Mr Abbott and the backbench.
Queensland Liberal Andrew Laming described the decision as a “scapegoating of Goliath proportions’’. “This is just another example of the poor judgment of the Prime Minister,’’ he said.
This morning the ABC was reporting it as being of Godzilla proportions, which since it involves a gigantic lizard, seems more so and just, but do let the reptiles go on:
...Mr Ruddock, a minister in the Howard government who is highly regarded in Liberal ranks, was seen as loyal to Mr Abbott.
Last night, he described “the position as “the gift of the Prime Minister’’ and directed questions to Mr Abbott. Mr Abbott gave no public reason for the changes last night but sources said replacing Mr Ruddock had been considered as part of the pre-Christmas ministerial reshuffle following some complaints from backbenchers.
Other sources said the change was a response to Mr Abbott’s not being informed by the whip of the strength of the backlash he was facing.
The chief whip plays a vital role as the conduit between the leader and the backbench. Mr Abbott defeated the spill motion sought by two West Australian MPs by 61 to 39 votes.
A Liberal frontbencher said the Prime Minister had not consulted colleagues and the dumping would anger his detractors. “Given the new era of consultation, I would have thought that the smart thing to do would be to say to the partyroom, ‘What do you think?’
“This will just be another thing to use against (Mr Abbott). ”
Another senior MP said Mr Ruddock had acted with “poise” throughout the challenge...
Like the best knifings, it was done on a Friday afternoon as a way to wrap up the week, but that doesn't mean the Saturday rumblings will go unnoticed. The Fairfaxians also took delight in putting it at the top of the page:
here, and it too starts off in fine style. The Sydney Fairfaxians favoured the first image below, while the Fairfaxians by the muddy Yarra the one below that:
Never mind, the meaning is clear. Here was a loyal flunky, a forelock tugger of the first water, an obsequious servile servant anyone would value as a butler, a menial if useful scullion, a faithful factotum struck down in his dotage by a mean monster:
Tony Abbott has again fanned the flames of insurrection in his ranks by gratuitously dumping veteran party Whip Philip Ruddock in the wake of this week's attempted spill motion.
The move has angered many on his backbench and threatens to reopen the leadership question after some who stuck with him revealed they were appalled at the vindictiveness and sheer brutality of the move on Mr Ruddock.
"The PM had my vote on Monday even though he refused to get rid of Peta Credlin [his chief of staff]. He has now lost my vote because he had no right to get rid of Philip Ruddock," one furious backbencher said.
"This is another disastrous call," another MP said.
The Friday afternoon dumping of one of the Liberal Party's most loyal and revered servants threatens to further strain relations in an already divided government and has MPs again discussing Mr Abbott's judgment, his tendency to conflict and the strength of his commitment to establish harmony.
MPs contacted by Fairfax Media questioned the timing of the announcement, with one branding Mr Ruddock's removal "just terrible" at the end a week which was meant to be all about healing.
Another said, "I just can't believe that this is meant to help".
And so on. As the Fairfaxians note, one of the problems for Andrew Laming, the Godzilla man, is that the new deputy whip, Andrew Nikolic, decried Laming's anti-Sir Duke bill as unconstitutional, and then Nikolic went to ground when Laming and his partner in the bill produced two constitutional lawyers to say it wasn't so.
And now the new servile lickspittle, of the Nikolic kind, has his reward, while Laming in due course went to water on his anti-Sir Duke bill ...
"How does that exhibit the qualities of a whip who is supposed to exercise respect?" Mr Laming asked.
Yes, and how's that for a politician who failed the Sir Duke test?
Instead, there's the sight of a whining sore loser walking and talking ... and no doubt festering behind closed doors ...
... while it's the night of the long knives for the father of the house, as if there's virtue in being the last obdurate man standing ...
Back in the good old days, Abbott could rely on at least a half-hearted defence from the likes of Peter Hartcher, scribbling for Fairfax. These days? Hartcher has turned:
Abbott is fatally wounded. He is unpopular with the country. His government is perpetually behind in the polls. And now most of his own backbenchers have voted no confidence in him. Labor has stood agog, irrelevant to the Liberal breakdown. The spill motion was a personal and political crisis for Abbott. It was also a crisis for the model of politics that he operates.
There are two starkly different ways of conducting politics. It can be problem-solving, or it can be pugilism. Both were on display in Australia's Parliament this week. The Liberal insurrection against Tony Abbott's prime ministership was an unmistakable sign that politics as pugilism had failed.
And so on here (forced video at end of link) until the concluding line:
A flailing, failing Abbott is inadvertently making Turnbull look increasingly attractive to his own back bench.
Could it get any worse for Abbott in reptile land?
How about a plague of Shanahans offering up advice?
Oh dear sweet absent lord, there she is banging on about the average family. But who is that predecessor Abbott should be heeding?
Ah yes, fooled you if you thought it was chairman Rudd or madam chair Gillard.
Of course it was John Howard - the interregnum was a mere passing reptile nightmare, no more worthy of note than a sordid Salvadore Dali painting:
What Abbott should be doing now is reviewing family policy in its entirety, including taxation. What made John Howard the most popular prime minister in Australia’s history? Family policy. He was an average guy who understood the average family and its taxation burdens. Abbott should heed the lesson of his predecessor’s example.
John Howard an average guy?
How easily and cheaply the Shanahans defame average guys.
The rest was a tidy slagging off of Abbott up hill and down dale for getting everything about the average family wrong.
Of course you have to refract it through Shanahan's Catholic, 'stay at home until you feel like scribbling a rant for the reptiles' vision of the suburban mum.
Shanahan even starts slagging off small business, while moaning about the suffering of big business. It sounds in places a bit like a socialist getting into the DLP's vision of heaven in places, and in other parts, a bit like a woman wanting to be a Cardinal to support the Catholic church's Ponzi home breeding scheme, and a bit like a woman wanting to crack the Melbourne Club, or perhaps chair BHP.
Yes, a lot of the tosh is of the standard Shanahan stay at home mum kind:
There's a lot more, but the joyous thing for the pond is that right now, Abbott can't win, with his conservative faithful, his back bench, or anyone else. They get him coming, or they get him going ...
As for Dennis "the bouffant one" Shanahan, also banging on about John Howard and Abbott, it was all about keeping the flickering flame alive:
In view of the fuss about the dumping of the father of the house yesterday, that's pure comedy gold and as desperate as it can get.
The bouffant one even drags Henry V into the mix:
As an MP, minister and even as opposition leader, Abbott was like Shakespeare’s Prince Hal, who surrounded himself with trusted friends and found it difficult to get out of the milieu of camaraderie and brawling to stand alone as the heir apparent.
Even after becoming king, Henry V, Shakespeare’s character retains a warmth for his old mates until forced to endorse Bardolph’s hanging for looting. The reality of leadership, Monday’s “near-death experience” for the Liberal leader and a sense of there now being nothing to lose may truly make Abbott change.
Henry V! Now there's a metaphor close to Sir Duke's heart!
The pond can't think of many certainties in life, apart from the usual jokes about death, taxes and dentists, but a few additional ones come to mind: Tony Abbott isn't Henry V, and Shanahan is no Shakespeare ... and Abbott changing at his age keeps on reminding the pond of that tale of the frog and the scorpion.
Now there's a cage match: Aesop v Shakespeare.
But the sweet lad does his best to wax lyrical - you can google the rest if you like - as he sweeps over the tumultuous week, and while the news is inclined to be grim...
The estimates of how long Abbott has to improve vary from just “some time” among those prepared to call for another spill, to a “few months”, “the end of June” (which is crucial period for leadership because of the parliamentary sittings), September, which is the second anniversary of Abbott’s election, to a highly optimistic “Christmas”...
...Regardless of the time Abbott may think he has there is no doubt that a major mistake will end it all immediately, with not even his closest supporters prepared to wear another misjudgment.
As one experienced Liberal MP, who supports Abbott, told Inquirer yesterday: “There are a series of hurdles that have been set and he has to clear them all.”
Apart from “no mistakes” the first hurdle is for Abbott to keep his word on the promised changes to consultation with cabinet colleagues and the backbench to avoid any surprises as well as his personal undertaking to “answer my phone”.
Hi Phil, yes it's Tony here. Why don't you just piss off to the back bench, you useless, doddering, used up old servant you ...
... but despite the grimness and the long knives on a Friday afternoon, and the Godzilla, or perhaps the Goliah, throughout the piece - masochists might like to google the piece rather than suffer through Fifty Shades - the bouffant one remains optimistic...
Maybe Abbott and jolly Joe can fix the budget, maybe there'll be a bump in the polls, maybe Credlin will stay in the background, maybe catering to paranoia about foreigners and bashing Labor and the Human Rights Commission and blathering on about jihadists and security will work a treat - well nattering negativity has always been the go - and then comes the closing pars, which it has to be said follow Bill Shakespeare's willingness to close out Hamlet with a few banalities of the traditional kind:
The final and biggest hurdle is the budget process where Abbott and Hockey must use the Intergenerational Report, out in a couple of weeks, to set an objective of a return to surplus, have a timetable for doing so and, vitally, provide a context for tough decisions that will use solid facts and figures the public can believe.
Whether Abbott, like Howard, can do all or any this depends on him and him alone. While he has time he has a chance.
Uh huh. The pugilist in rope a dope mode. Henry V luring the tricky, sneering, supercilious French to a tricky death ...
So what do we see on the front page of the reptile rag?
Yes, there's all the usual reptile follies, shock at Ruddock, shock at Triggs, shock at state executions (shock at children being incarcerated is on permanent hold), but above all, in the biggest typeface, this:
It's not an EXCLUSIVE of course - that's just the usual reptile drivel - but it makes wonderfully poignant those last few prescriptions by the bouffant one ...
The final and biggest hurdle is the budget process where Abbott and Hockey must use the Intergenerational Report, out in a couple of weeks, to set an objective of a return to surplus, have a timetable for doing so ...
... while having a massive shortfall of some $30 billion or more, if you believe other EXCLUSIVE reports ... maybe even $40 billion, as reported by the Fairfaxians here, three days before the reptiles had their black hole vision ...
Of course one thing the reptiles will never mention is the sort of chicanery and trickery that led News Corp to collect a huge bonus from Australian taxpayers ... a cool $882 million for a series of paper shuffles between subsidiaries (AFR here).
Which is why Michael West's piece this morning, Tax haven explosion puts hole in corporate tax, makes such fine reading this morning:
...the numbers are enormous, and suggest that even if part of these related party dealings were clawed back, and profits were kept in the country, Australia's budget deficit would be repaired quickly.
West provides plenty of data, and much detail and a nice graph - always with the graph - and the CPA acting and sounding like facilitators for financial pirates.
It left the pond with one thought in mind.
Would our very own Henry V storm the corporate battlements, and helped by jolly Joe, restore justice to the Australian corporate tax system?
Here, have another swig of the kool aid.
You seem to be under-dosed, and such thinking will only cause trouble ...
Remember, thoughts that Hamlet's best at stabbing rats and Philip Ruddock as they lurk behing the arras will only get you into trouble with big brother ...
And so to a last cartoon, and David Pope going where few have dared to venture in these troubled times, as hypocrites rightly protest the Indonesian executions, while remaining mute on Australia's gulags, or even worse spend their time bashing the messenger ...
But at least we have one actor up for the job of reading his lines ... (and more Pope here).
Not so much Henry V as Caesar cruising for a fall?