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September 19, 2005
Don't Be Shy -- Tell Us What You Really Think

After a devastating electoral defeat caused Mark Latham to resign as leader of the Australian Labor Party, he took some time to reflect on the issues that caused his downfall. Apparently, as much of the Australian public also determined, Latham hung out with the wrong people. Now he has published a book that does what it can to reduce the credibility of the remaining Laborites and to vent Latham's spleen on his former colleagues:

The Latham Diaries is a 429-page tome packed with such vitriol that it has caused disarray within his party and left many of its key figures shocked at the scale of his betrayal. Few escape his venom, particularly Kim Beazley, who replaced Mr Latham as Labor leader after his overwhelming defeat by John Howard in last Octobers general election. Mr Latham accuses Mr Beazley of waging a six-year campaign to undermine him.

Beazley has been successful in conveying an impression of public decency, but my experience with him has been very different, he says. He is in bed with the worst elements of the party, manipulative and opportunistic, yet publicly hes seen as an avuncular and decent fellow . . . Politics can be a dirty business, but our caucus is infested with sewer rats of the movement.

In pre-publication interviews Mr Latham, 44, continued to turn the screw on the current Labor leader. He said: I wouldnt make him the toilet cleaner at Parliament House, let alone the Leader of the Opposition.

After his defeat in last years election Mr Lathams diaries became even more critical of his colleagues, blaming everybody but himself for the rumour and innuendo that continued to haunt him. December 4, 2004 is typical: My mood: complete and utter despair. I expect shit from the Tories and their Dancing Bears in the media, but why does the worst stuff, the bits that maim, always come from our side? Over the years I ve believed too much in this show, thats why the personal crap hurts and bewilders me, cuts me to the core. The Australian Labor Party is the worst. Eating its own children. The so-called party of compassion, living off the spears it puts into people . . . a secret society of slurs and personal attacks.

The Tories must have dozens of staffers writing new political commercials for any upcoming elections based on Latham's book. One revelation, widely suggested during the last campaign, is that the Labor Party's endorsement of the American alliance was insincere and might not have been continued had John Howard lost to Labor. That will severely undermine the credibility of Labor politicians for years to come.

The Laborites must have lawyers coming by the truckload to file libel lawsuits against Latham, but he apparently does not care any longer about the damage he causes. Most of the damage will fall on Latham himself, anyway. As deliciously nasty as the book may be and for all the sales it will garner, Latham will have not just discredited the existing Labor Party but himself as well. How could his conscience allow him to lead such a party of "sewer rats", a "secret society" that "eats its own children"? Latham urged Australians to put these very people in charge of the government, after all.

Latham, in the end, will fall to either oblivion or create a legacy as one of the most memorable sore losers in politics.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 19, 2005 5:40 AM

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