Saturday, February 21, 2009

Piers Akerman, Billy Bunter, the fat owl of the remove, Peter Costello, Malcolm Turnbull and sage advice from reading the Liberal party entrails

Sunday is such a special day, in the way that once upon a time a trip to the newsagents was special for young lads eager to get the latest copy of Magnet and news of Greyfriars, home to Billy Bunter, the fat owl of the remove.

Yes Sunday is the day the fat owl, aka Piers Akerman, turns up in the Sunday Terror aka the Sunday Telegraph. Is there a heart in the land that doesn't beat a little faster knowing that on this day Akerman will smote lefties and greenies, and save the land for conservatives?

I'm sometimes asked what this obsession with the fat owl is all about, and all I can suggest is that you go to the excellent Friardale website for a dose of old fashioned, exotic nostalgia (and remember Frank Richards nee Charles Hamilton was paid by word count, so expect a quantity of 'yarooh garoar roared the fat owl' along with quality evocations of peculiar English educational institutions from a long lost era).

But quickly now, cast your eye from the handsome portrait of Bunter, tuck shop fiend, above, to this little cameo of Akerman, the lefties' curse, below. 

Isn't there a genetic connection, a smidgin of similarity between the Greyfriars' fat owl and our very own fearless fighter for freedom in the Sunday Terror?

And don't they both have similar obsessions - about grub and beasts, especially chaps who won't leave a libertarian freedom fighter in peace?

But what's this? The fat owl has abandoned his battles with greenies and lefties to examine the entrails of the Liberal party, after it spent the last week spilling its guts for benefit of augurers skilled in extispicy.

Cue the fat owl, who after checkin the colors of the Liberal party's kidneys and liver, kindly offers Malcolm Turnbull some sage advice on how to run the Liberal party, in Wrangle exposes Turnbull weakness.

It seems the past week's disruption has been all the fault of Malcolm in the middle, not to mention the treacherous, double dealing, baggage carrying Christopher Pyne and his weak-kneed, opportunistic, spineless, weathervane ways.

Peter Costello of course has had nothing to do with it. 

While these issues were being played out front of stage, former treasurer Peter Costello was ever present in the background, not menacing, not threatening, not plotting a coup or even counting numbers.

That's right, piqued Petie boy just plays tiddlywinks or Scrabble or solitaire with nary a thought of treachery or treason. He's just being an honest representative for the good burghers of Higgins (and pray to the lord you never have to try to park a car in Toorak village when a rich burgher is nearby behind the wheel of a Mercedes or some huge kind of tractor).

Just there, being something of a distraction that the Opposition does not need.

Say what? Is the fat owl making a muted criticism of Costello?

Costello is a different matter and Turnbull would do well not to dwell upon him as  potential threat to his leadership.

His role now is to lead, not to fight off possible contenders.

While Costello remains without doubt the most effective parliamentary performer on the Opposition benches, he is not - by his own choice - on the front bench.

He is thus respected for the job he used to have, but the manner in which he has removed himself from the front line - where he would be a great asset - erodes the great reputation he earned as the nation's longest-serving treasurer.

Oh no, et tu Brute, fat owl? But only a couple of weeks ago, why on February 4th in fact, you were celebrating a revived, even rampant Peter Costello as he battered Rudd, and inspired the likes of those learned ex-Labor men Michael Costa and Mark Latham to do the same about the Ruddster's feeble grasp of economics.

Over the past year, Costello wrote his book, he attended to some non-parliamentary matters and he gave the impression of a man who was content to let others take up the Liberal fight.

That has now changed.

The revived Costello is being watched with keen interest by his colleagues, some of whom are keen to see him return to the front bench and lead the charge, in the Treasury portfolio for now, but in the leadership position should Malcolm Turnbull be seen as terminally unelectable when the Rudd Government goes to the polls.

But don't you worry about any of that Malcolm. We're right behind you, the knives are sheathed, the votes are not being counted. Reminds me, anyone seen my stone, must remember to keep the edge sharp.

Just joking Malcolm. The fat owl has spoken, and suddenly Janus seems as straight as a die, with the past and the future equally clear, or equally muddy, depending how you think the Delphic Oracle is speaking.

Still confused? Really Malcolm! Here it is in words of one syllable. 

Don't worry about any challenges, even if everybody's very excited about a revived Costello challenging you and Rudd and anyone who stands in his revitalised way, because he can't, because he's demeaned himself and his reputation with his refusal to play up and play the game, so remember that Costello's presence and activities are entirely benign - since he's doing nothing and not counting the numbers - except that doing nothing is actually a distraction to the Liberals, and  possibly he should stop it. 

Perhaps by organizing a challenge, except he won't because he never had the guts to move on Howard and now he wants it handed to him on a plate. No Malcolm no, don't smash that plate, focus! Tackle Rudd unencumbered by thoughts of Costello. Say om!

With advisors like the fat owl, Malcolm's course is crystal clear. How long before the Ruddster is swept off the cliff and into the raging torrent below, like Holmes did to Moriarty, cleansing the world and making it safe again for mankind?

Let's leave you with this image, which might - or might not - be the fat owl of the remove pointing to the academic record of the beastly boys of Greyfriars, or might - or might not - be Piers Akerman charting the chances of Peter Costello challenging Turnbull before Christmas.

Are you sure you don't see a resemblance to Billy Bunter?

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