September 05, 2004 | Unknown

John Anderson: Out of Touch or Just Behind the Times?

Just like his party, John Anderson showed himself to be seriously out-of-date last week when he exhumed Mark Latham’s comments about hating his political opponents.
Sounding like the sort of hippy peacenik the National Party in Queensland used to have the police raid; Anderson claimed, “Hatred tears our world apart”.
Yes, John, and keeping people in detention centres for years engenders love and togetherness.
Thankfully, the piece citing Anderson was brief enough to spare us his rendition of Blowing in the Wind.
Leaving aside that Anderson’s observation validates Latham’s opinion, mentioned in the same item as the “hate” remarks, that the Federal Government engages in “phoniness”, he seems to be sticking to the Coalition’s early response to Latham taking over the Labor leadership.
Initially, references to Latham’s former bad behaviour and “crudity” were considered enough on the Government’s part to discredit him.
It must be recognized that others also had, and retain a few, concerns about Latham, although for different reasons to the conservatives such as his failure to acknowledge the involvement of working-class women in the community.
However, it has been interesting to witness Latham talk about topics traditionally considered non-political and of the private sphere (i.e. women’s issues) with the same seriousness that the economy, industrial relations and defence are usually discussed.
It is doubtful childhood obesity and the importance of reading to early development would have been on the agenda if Simon Crean was leading the ALP to next month’s election.
The trouble with Anderson’s apparent ploy to provoke an aggressive response from Latham, and a fearful one from the electorate, is that it does not tally with the way the Member for Werriwa has performed during his time in charge of Labor.
This week’s edition of The Bulletin has described his current approach as the “…calmer, more considered Latham (with) an array of policy messages”.
While most members of the Government seemingly no longer believe evoking the man of old is electorally advantageous, it is clear some have had trouble coming to terms with today’s Latham and the way he has reconfigured politics in Australia.
An ALP parliamentarian quoted in The Age in February saw a similar difficulty among others; “the journalists and the various interest groups, they thought they had a fix on him but that’s because they’re trying to put conventional labels on him, to fit him into not just John Howard’s series of boxes but into the categories that they have applied to past Labor leaders”.
Latham, like most voters, responds to issues on an individual basis rather than from a set ideological position.
In addition, he presumes people’s understanding of what is political is broader than that held by many of those who are involved in politics.
Given the complexity of Latham’s style, it is a shame John Anderson has reduced it to some ill-considered utterances made a couple of years ago, but what else can you expect from the front person of a party whose day has long gone.

Posted by Unknown at 8:27 pm | Comments Off on John Anderson: Out of Touch or Just Behind the Times? |
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