Hard to hang on when cracks appear

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a leadership vote this morning.

If he wins it, his victory is likely to be temporary. It is very hard to hang on to the leadership once cracks appear in a caucus.

He benefitted from that as Labor went through a prolonged leadership uncertainty with Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard then Rudd again.

We’ve seen it in New Zealand with members of the Labour caucus undermining successive leaders.

One of the reasons John Key’s leadership and the National Party have been so successful is because the caucus has been disciplined and united.

No doubt there are some robust conversations behind closed doors, which is healthy. But there has been none of the disunity or disloyalty that signal a caucus in turmoil and a leadership in trouble.

It is, of course, much easier to be united when your leader and party are popular.

But whether disunity and disloyalty precipitate a poll plunge or follow it, one builds on and encourages the other.

Party leaders come and go, and an unhappy and leaking caucus is a strong sign that the going is likely to be sooner rather than later.

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