Friday, September 16, 2005

The Latham debacle

Ok, I'm beginning to think that the Latham Diaries should be re-named the Latham Debacle. Why, well according to debacle means:
  1. A sudden, disastrous collapse, downfall, or defeat; a rout.
  2. A total, often ludicrous failure.
  3. The breaking up of ice in a river.
  4. A violent flood.

Well, we can kinda discount the last two, though a violent flood is a good description of the abuse and ramblings that have poured out of his pen and mouth over the last few days. Mark Latham's fall from grace has been hard, and ludicrous. It seems that he had real problems connecting to the realities of his own shortcomings.

It seems that Latham had a great vision for Australia. He had a vision of an egalitarian society that was strong and independent. Unfortunately, his vision was obscured by a hatred of the forces that he saw as being impediments to a better society.

It seems that his own hatred led to some of Labor's policy disasters in the leadup to last year's election. This is especially the case with Labor's divisive school's policy and the Iraq "troops home by Christmas" policy.

In today's Weekend Oz, Paul Kelly paints Latham as a character who increasingly sought to lash out at those around him throughout his tenure in the Labor leadership. The people Latham criticizes seem to be exactly those that he should have been listening to. Beazley, Rudd, Whitlam, Keating,... the list is a who's who of intelligent policy thinkers and strategists in the Labor party. It seems that Latham was himself a divisive character in the party, unable to work within a team, who believed that the only way forward was his.

I guess it was lucky for the ALP that he didn't win last year. Well, at least that's the line being spun by the Murdoch press. I'm not so sure I believe that. If Latham was so dangerous and divisive after an election win, then I'm sure we would have been given the boot by caucus. Anyway, this argument is purely academic, it's about events that never happened (in fact, that didn't really even come close to happening).

What I think should be speculated on a bit more, is whether there really was any divisive behaviour among the federal ALP leadership, and whether there still is? As Julia Gillard has pointed out, some of this should be looked into. Labor needs a united team to take on Howard, they need to get over their own ambitions and beliefs and take the fight to Howard.