Latham Debrief

Like many before him Latham only fixes half the problem. Tales of having to walk to meetings in the absence of local transport were common enough twenty years ago. So to were the ?Crash through or crash? remedies. Mike Steketee mentions Latham’s first foray into political leadership; After becoming Liverpool’s first popularly elected mayor at age 30, he did his best to correct the imbalance, embarking on an extensive building program that included two libraries, a heated swimming pool, a recreation centre and a revamped arts facility. Noble sentiment but who?s going to pay for the fix? It was one sign of the Latham style translated into action. A conventional mayor would have proceeded more cautiously. Latham’s legacy was $36million worth of new facilities but a deficit that prompted an expression of concern from the auditors and required the council to seek special permission to breach the annual rate ceiling of 2.7 per cent and hike rates by 8.1 per cent. Australia will never recover from Whitlam’s excesses and the poor old rate payers of Liverpool have a similar problem. He promises to tone down his language. He shouldn’t have spoken the way he did in the first place. The bridges are burnt and don’t think US Ambassador Schieffer?s public utterings of ‘…looking forward to working with’…reflect US thoughts on the matter. Schieffer is being diplomatic but the Yanks will be concerned. Many commentators reflect on Latham’s right wing tendencies. Frank Devine muses; … I was nudged towards Latham in the lead-up to yesterday’s caucus by, paradoxically, Robert Manne writing in The Age that if Latham were the man, Labor would “abandon interest in Aboriginal reconciliation” and “demonstrate a growing contempt for what Latham calls the left-wing ‘rights agenda’.” Splendid news, I thought. I found his violent excesses from the frontbench…uncharacteristically gauche; and However, the member for Werriwa strode off in an encouraging direction on his leadership debut yesterday. “I am in favour of upward mobility through hard work,” he declared at his first press conference. In 10 words he gave Labor a philosophy the party has been unable to articulate for a decade. If Latham can put this into practice, he will have demolished the politics of envy and effortless entitlement with which the lesser middle class has infected Labor. Some problems. The Left are going to hate him and this is potentially destabilizing. Watch Carmen (I can’t remember) Lawrence at the ALP conference in January. Carmen and her warriors, all with sword in their left hands, will be attacking and trying to turn the ALP further left. Latham has to steer down the middle or veer a little right to have an impact on the electorate. I don’t believe he has a good grasp of economics. I see a tendency to balance the inequalities of life with cash deposits when the system itself needs repair. Give a man some fish or teach him how to fish doesn’t seem to register with Latham. His time as Liverpool Mayor reflects this and his time with his hero and most everyone else?s fool, Whitlam, will have reinforced the mantra of ‘spend the money, fix the problem and let the Conservatives pick up the huge bills. Given the above, watch his minders spend time and money on remaking his image. Remove the intemperate language. Only quote policies that have been thought out by Caucus (that will be hard) and lets see what transpires.

One comment

  • The left embracing him because he’s not Howard and some of the right embracing him because they are bored. Time will tell if he can put together a shadow cabinet that reflects his words. But who? If he was that some hope he is, then he will spend most of his time fighting his own party.