December 02, 2003 | Peter

Latham for PM!

There is a fair bit of confidence within the ALP that Labor can win the next Federal election. The view is that the electorate is fed up with Howard and would try any sort of genuine alternative.
So how does a Latham win affect things? There are two big questions: How will Latham handle the constant, all round pressure of being leader? And will the caucus really unite behind him?
Latham has some substantial assets on his side, personal and organisational. Although close, the leadership contest was a classic choice between old and new, and Kim Beazley was a strong candidate. Latham’s win was significant beyond the personal contest. Latham has already won his spurs in a way Crean did not at the outset. Furthermore, the vote indicates that caucus put long term success over their fears about the next election. Beazley was seen as the safe bet going into an election, who could lose with minimum cost. Electing Latham suggests that caucus thinks they can definitely win and they want action when they do. This is a very good sign.
I thought Rudd did himself no favours in the contest. His own self regard came through very clearly, and now Latham has a problem with what to do with him.
As for Beazley, no one doubts his integrity, and his losing speech was spot on. Hopefuly he’ll now play the part of the experienced old war horse in assisting the new leadership from the back benches.
But now the pressure is on Mark Latham. His faults are well known, but he has two really important qualities: he is genuinely bright (a sadly rare attribute in our current crop of pollies) and he has a red hot go. This dynamism, risky as it is, may break through the increasing cynicism of the electorate.
It is well known that Latham’s hero is Gough Whitlam, who was also accused of being unstable and risky before he took over from the safe Arthur Calwell. Maybe Latham can combine Whitlam’s real leadership qualities and the lessons (hopefully) learned from his downfall to give us something to get excited about.

Posted by Peter at 11:58 am | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. “….Gough Whitlam, who was also accused of being unstable and risky before he took over from the safe Arthur Calwell.”
    And whitlam was just that “unstable and risky” and the development of a truly unique society went down the gurgler in a swirl of corruption and mayhem because he was unable to control his instability and inherent megalomania
    Thank Christ I am too old to have to live through that again – a pox on him and all his heirs and acolytes.

    Comment by fred — December 2, 2003 @ 3:02 pm

  2. Ah, someone with a bad word for Gough – how refreshing! He’s become something of a saint in the ALP.
    But does that mean you would have prefered Calwell?

    Comment by peter — December 3, 2003 @ 2:16 pm

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