The truth about the #LibsSpill hashtag
THE hashtag #LibSpill was trending on Twitter after Malcolm Turnbull lost his 30th Newspoll in a row overnight.
It was the result the Prime Minister had been dreading, after he used the benchmark to topple Tony Abbott from the top job in 2015.
With Mr Abbott and Peter Dutton tipped as possible challengers, social media users were busily forecasting an imminent Liberal Party leadership spill.
If I were Malcolm Turnbull I'd call a #libspill TOMORROW.— Stephen (@TheAviator1992) April 8, 2018
He'd almost certainly stand unopposed, but at least then he won't be seen by the public as a snake who refused to submit to his own test. 🐍🐍🐍 #auspol #newspoll
Some thought Mr Turnbull should call a spill immediately, while others were discussing the Coalitionâ€™s imminent downfall, or raking over the potential candidates for the prime ministership.
Well it's official he's a dud... he has to resign.. there's no way in the world he would ever win his 40th or 50th newspoll backbenchers must be nervous Goodbye Malcolm Goodbye #auspol #libspill #Newspoll30 pic.twitter.com/2Qr4hWj8uz— Politic@l Spinner ✌️ (@LesStonehouse) April 8, 2018
'I would put money on @JulieBishopMP If she stood for the leadership," posted Ray Wilson, while Philip Anthony forecast that Abbott's party was about to start.
"Peter Dutton is the only serious contender but he is impeccably loyal," wrote Alan Thorold.
"LNP coalition in chaos," tweeted Mich-Elle Myers. "They have realised there is nobody in their whole rotten gang that could give the #newspoll a boost."
However, some questioned how much the long run of negative Newspolls really meant. News.com.au's Malcolm Farr noted that Mr Turnbull's position had been bolstered by support and appeals for Liberal unity from possible leadership contenders Treasurer Scott Morrison, Mr Dutton and Ms Bishop, as well as former prime minister John Howard.
The Australian's Rick Morton told ABC's The Drum: "Monday's going to come, Newspoll is going to come, and nothing will happen."
Journalist Jan Fran blasted the "unnecessary speculation" on the news program, adding, "it comes down to being in a 24-hour media cycle from hell, we're all in it. We want to keep generating content and ideas."
Bernard Keane wrote in Crikey about how Twitter had gone 'berserk' over a clearly false news story about an imminent bid for the leadership by Mr Dutton. The hashtag #LibSpill began trending, protests were discussed and several news sites duly wrote about the social media panic.
He claimed it 'illustrates why social media users are as much to blame as platforms for the deep problems created online.'
The prospect of a leadership spill is understood to be highly unpopular with the public. However, the anger, blame-shifting and feverish analysis now playing out, and fuelled by online chatter, cannot be good for the Liberals.
Mr Abbott said on Sunday that politicians should not live in the past and that the last thing he wanted to see was 'instability in government' but said he would 'challenge the government' on policies and priorities as he saw fit.
He earlier remarked that the 30 Newspolls 'was not my metric and it is for others to explain the rhyme or the reason in it' adding that they takeaway was that 'people want their Government to do better'.
Mr Turnbull last week expressed regret at having used polling to attack Mr Abbott three years ago, and said it was important for the LNP to focus on the fight against Labor.
Other senior ministers were attempting damage control ahead of the embarrassing result. Energy minister Josh Frydenberg urged colleagues to 'row together', while Senator Eric Abetz told the ABC, 'My understanding is that we will be going to the next election with Malcolm Turnbull as our Prime Minister.'
On Friday, Christopher Pyne dismissed claims of an impending spill as 'rubbish', including suggestions that Mr Dutton could be out to take over the top job.
'It's just an irrelevance. Sure there might be a bad Newspoll on Monday - nobody cares," he told Today.
Fairfax's first IPSOS poll for 2018 found that 76 per cent of Coalition voters and 62 per cent of all voters want Mr Turnbull to remain leader of the party.
It also saw Labor leading the Coalition 52-48 based on preference flows from the last election, but when voters were asked to allocate their own preferences, the result was 50-50.