Waleed Aly opines that the cat-fight between Abbott and Turnbull is not solely about personality, as was the Gillard-Rudd barney, but is at least partly about ideas1. Insofar as Abbott is using archaic neoliberal policy to bash Turnbull, he is correct. However, that is all a front. Abbott is a narcissist. This was obvious from his near-death experience in early 2015 and his demise later that year, when he blamed ‘the government’ for the problems, but never himself, despite his colleagues’ surprise at some decisions clearly indicating they were his alone (or Credlin’s)2. His gait, where he looks almost like he should have a couple of watermelons or piglets under his arms, betrays a certain wish to be a rough, tough John Wayne figure in his own mind. This also speaks of a person who has an unjustly elevated opinion of himself.
Abbott knows he is damaging the prospects of his party for the near future because, as they say, disunity is political suicide. He doesn’t care because, all that concerns him, is Turnbull’s demise as Prime Minister. If he can achieve that, he will have some vindication for his own demise. The political end of Turnbull, in a time frame less than the nearly two years Abbott occupied the position, would allow Abbott to believe that he has ‘beaten’ Turnbull; that Turnbull was a failure, and that Abbott was wrongly ousted. Abbott is probably not deluded enough to believe that he could become Prime Minister again, so knifing Turnbull would be second prize. However, narcissists are delusional people, so maybe Abbott does think he has a chance. That would be funny to watch.