Friday, January 21, 2005

New Captain of the Titanic

Media reporting on Latham's retirement and speculation as to the next ALP leader has been interesting. The Daily Liberal Party Press Release - aka "The Australian" - predictably kicked Latham while he was down in its blinkered editorial. I grant that he's never been a great handler of the media - in fact, people in general seem to be his weakness as both party leader and politician - but the Murdoch media has been nothing short of predatory in helping the Libs to take him down.

Over at Fairfax in the Herald, Margo Kingston (the last of the dreamers, along with Alan Ramsay) would like to see Kevin Rudd at the helm with Julia Gillard his deputy. I think this is very optimistic and hopeful to the point of naive. Rudd, although incredibly intelligent and a strong performer (and someone who I think would shit on Downer as Foreign Affairs minister), does not strike me as a man of the people. But then again neither has Howard. The amount of times Howard looks as though he's concealing nausea behind his nauseating grin whenever he has to touch anybody earning under 200k a year could be in the thousands now. Beazley, for all his shortcomings, is far more affable than Rudd and especially Latham.

Gillard I am a big fan of in principle. She's a woman from the Left and in my more idealistic days I would have equated these characteristics with the future of the ALP. But it seems to me in the current political climate there is no way a woman from the Left will be the one to take on and defeat Howard. Not least would she have many men in her own party destabilising her leadership, but the way I read the electorate, the bulk of voters are not ready for a female PM. But maybe the time is right for her to become deputy. If the Left gets the deputy leader position - and operate on an affirmative action policy - then it's probably a good idea before the election to shaft Jenny Macklin, a fairly ineffectual shadow Education minister, and put in Gillard, who has successfully taken on Pope Tony Abbott III in Health and is a great parliamentary performer.

Kingston's argument that "a return to Beazley would be a return to small target NSW right style" is flawed. Does she actually believe Latham was anything more than the small target NSW right style? And given that she has been quite fawning over Latham since he announced his resignation - "it is a tragedy for Australia as well as for Mark Latham that his health has forced his departure from public life" (no Margo, a tragedy for Australia is Port Arthur or the Bali bombings. This is just a guy resigning as Opposition leader) - she can't have it both ways. Either she's critical of all "small target NSW right style" men or she argues against Beazley on different grounds. There is the generational concern argument, but let's face it: Latham was the new generation and look how well that went.

I say put Beazley back in, pair him up with Gillard, pray for the Libs to do something particularly horrendous close to the 2007 election (considering what they've got away with so far, it would seem the proverbial pants down in the kindergarten scenario is required, and even then they can probably get away with it by claiming that their public servants didn't correctly inform them that taking down one's pants in a kindergarten is inappropriate), let interest rates raise and hopefully the Kaths and Kims of Fountain Lakes and Kellyville will decide there's more in it for them with Labor.



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