hen a Liberal leader loses Dennis Shanahan as a supporter we can safely assume he really is doing badly. The political editor of The Austrtalian is not a journalist to be easily swayed by a left leaning press gallery herd. He tends to stick to the views that the paper's bosses would like to think are held by the majority of its readers. Dennis showed that right through the dying year of John Howard's rule when he steadfastly remained a loyal supporter always looking for a sign of hope as the evidence of impending defeat mounted. That conservative viewpoint remains but after quite an extended period away from active duty he has returned anything but a fervent admirer of Malcolm Turnbull.
Take this morning's offering where he described Kevin Rudd as sounding "like a prime minister with his foot on the throat of an opponent and a finger itching for an election trigger." That gloomy assessment came after the previous day's description that "Liberal MPs no longer just look like they are thinking of defeat at the next election, they are beginning to talk about it", and that "even Malcolm Turnbull has raised the fear of losing a double-dissolution election in an attempt to impose discipline and unity."
On Tuesday the Shanahan commentary had been even harsher when he wrote:
What had been primed as a king hit on the Rudd Labor government, designed to take out Rudd and Swan, has turned into a potentially mortal wounding of Turnbull. No matter what the evidence, the logic or the sense of political justice, the Coalition has botched its prosecution of Swan. And it has opened the way for a government demolition of Turnbull's character.
The significance of these comments is considerable. This is the political commentator that Liberal MPs know is the most sympathetic to their cause within the press gallery and the commentator who writes for the one newspaper that consistently supports them against Labor.
Malcolm Turnbull surely is in serious trouble.