November 29, 2003 | Peter

ALP Leadership Fun

Jeez, I go away for a few days off, pick up a paper on Friday driving back to Perth, and find the ALP leadership issue back on the front page. Sometimes I think politicians will do anything for a headline, even eat their own leader. All that phoning around and the clandestine meetings, it makes them feel like they’re doing something. For the electorate, however, it increasingly looks like they’re just spinning in circles.
There is this tendency in people to change the things they can, as opposed to the things they should – you know, like the deckchairs on the sinking ship. The real problems with the ALP are much deeper than leadership, and the poor quality of leadership is a direct result of these problems. Frankly, the ALP is like a creaky old car with increasingly essential bits falling off and running out of petrol, so changing the driver has minimal impact. Irony is, Crean may have got the boot because he was at least trying to fix the radiator leak. Some people in the ALP seem to think it is a brand new sports car motoring along nicely, except they should be driving.
But I am unable to resist commenting on the leadership fun, so here goes:
I have expressed in print my view that Mark Latham is the best hope the ALP has, seeing as Lindsay Tanner, for whatever reasons, remains off the radar. And although Kim Beazley is a nice man (you always have to say that), he is, as Barry Jones noted, the most right wing leader the ALP has had. His history in the party is that of a reasonably capable but hardly outstanding minister pursuing a right wing agenda.
But here we have Latham, who will owe the left if he gets the leadership, talking about tax breaks for the rich and Beazley arguing that any budget surplus should go to education and health. No doubt Kim has learned from the small target fiasco, but would he just revert to his old ways if elected PM? And will Latham remember who actually votes Labor and send a little their way?
As for Kevin Rudd, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise, where does he stand out side of foreign affairs? I mean, who is this guy really? We know a bit about Latham and a lot about Beazley, but Rudd looks like a ring in by people who just don’t like the other two.
And one last point: trying to catch up on events I snatched up the West and the Oz to absorb the info and views from our savvy national political journalists, and learned almost nothing. They write a lot, but rarely actually seem to have any real idea of what is going on under the surface froth and bubble. When I worked in the old Parliament House it seemed to me they were basically a lazy, herd-driven bunch. When serious political issues emerge, I could wish they worked harder and read each other less.

Posted by Peter at 2:55 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Peter,
    that seems to be pretty right about the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

    Comment by Gary Sauer-Thompson — December 1, 2003 @ 8:11 pm

  2. How much intellectual support has Mark got on the left ?
    Mark has the intellectual capital to start the change to the ‘social equity’ scene as much as the economics scene was changed in the last twenty years. Has he got a political base that will go with him through the change?

    Comment by Taust — December 1, 2003 @ 8:54 pm

  3. Latham’s problem is very much to turn his various ideas into something that resembles the ALP commitment to social justice etc and appeal to the left. It would be a Herculean task, and my guess is he’ll back off and take a more positive approach to government (as opposed to private institutions) like his hero Gough did. And that will take him back to the tax issue. But I hope leadership will round him out as opposed to close him down.
    As for the press gallery, Mungo MacCallum’s book is the best thing to come out of that.

    Comment by peter — December 3, 2003 @ 2:26 pm

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