||Issue No. 281||16 September 2005|
Interview: Polar Eclipse
Industrial: Wrong Turn
Unions: Star Support
Workplace: Checked Out
Economics: Sold Out
Politics: Green Banned
History: Potted History
International: Curtain Call
Review: Little Fish
Poetry: Slug A Worker
The Locker Room
Do the Bus Stop
A Touch of Honesty
Boss Made Me Sick
Politicians complaining about politics is a bit like a soapie star complaining about the paparazzi; they enter the game with the eyes wide open and exploit the very things that they later claim are exploiting them.
Watching the interview with Andrew Denton last night was a little like watching a car approaching an intersection with the brakes failing, you can tell there's going to be crash, you just don't know who is going to get collected.
On its face Mark Latham says he has turned his back on a dysfunctional world of politics to spend time with his family. If this were the real story, we could only wish him well.
Yet under the bonnet is an engine in meltdown, a series of vendettas and paybacks based on anecdotes and hearsay, leading him to the inevitable conclusion that the ALP is unfit to hold office.
The crumbling of almost all Latham's personal relationships is in itself a sad thing, but the knock-on effect of these personal paybacks could be even more tragic.
Think about it. This week we had the Coalition in meltdown, National Party MPs voting for a sale of Telstra even as the proposition was unravelling between their eyes - the ultimate betrayal of rural Australia.
Lined up next is industrial relations, an assault on working rights breath-taking in its extremism, providing not just a threat to the labour movement, but the potential to reunite its wings in common purpose.
Into this milieu waddles the man who, more than any other, has got Labor into this mess, letting forth a stream of vitriol that can only be calculated to damage the party.
When pressed on this point by Denton, Latham was disingenuous - while claiming he was acting to clear his own name for his sons and wanting to tell the public the truth about politics, there is no way one can ignore the context.
And thus, the man who bemoans the fact that society has become too individualistic uses his standing within his own family as a justification to trash the only structures, for all their faults and foibles, that have sustained the collective.
This is the real tragedy of the Latham Diaries: at a time when the labour movement is facing its biggest onslaught in generations, this individual chooses to settle personal scores.
It is this repudiation of the collective, rather than any individual insult or broken confidence that damns the former Labor leader.
Yes, the Latham Diaries expose problems in the political process, foremost that an individual with Latham's fragile ego could be voted leader.
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