My suspicion is that Mark Latham is mentally unwell. When Jeff Kennett brought up this suggestion a few months back he was shouted down, but perhaps Il Duce was on to something. Having seen his appearance on Enough Rope on
For me perhaps the most significant reason to think this is the fact that Latham has not restricted his savage criticism to a few select political opponents, but has lashed out at anyone and everyone whom he encountered in his eleven years in politics. Take Gough Whitlam, Latham's political mentor, first political employer and inspiration in the naming of his first son. Latham has savaged Whitlam, attacking him for his percieved disloyalty in Whitlam privately calling for Latham to resign as leader in January of this year. A mature and balanced person would surely recognise the ultimate wisdom of Gough's words (Latham did resign, after all, within just a couple of days) and maintain the relationship. Not so, Latham.
Latham is clearly in a destructive mood. It would not be unfair to think of his as Australia's first suicide bomber - as well as destroying his own life, he seems determined to destroy the (political) lives of as many other people as possible. He doesn't seem to care how much damage he does or which set of people he harms - it is his own party that will suffer in the process and his staunch political opponents who will win.
Sadly, Mark Latham is reinforcing every negative perception about him that existed during his time as a parliamentarian. He is demonstrating himself to be self-indulgent, narcissistic, selfish, undisciplined and untrustworthy with the truth. Much as he sought to keep these characteristics in check previously, now he has few people to impress and so he can let it all hang out. This is the real Latham.
In a strange way, the mad excess of Latham is to the advantage of the ALP. Had he been more measured and subtle in his criticism, then he might have been taken seriously and the negative effect on Beazley and the current crop would be significant. As it is, Latham is a sad circus act taken seriously by no-body, and so his accusations can be readily dismissed. Beazley, Whitlam and Keating all enjoy a resiliant character and a persona deeply etched in the public mind. The ravings of Mad Mark are going to do little to change them.
As to the question of how someone as unreliable and erratic as Latham managed to rise to the most senior position within the Australian Labor Party, it says much about the appeal of a false Messiah. I quite liked Beazley's spin on this one - it's a case of 'Sliding Doors': who's to say that had Latham become PM he wouldn't have grown into the role and left his erratic nature behind. Besides, were Latham to go troppo whilst in office, he would be merely a caucus vote away from being replaced. Good spin, and it may satisfy the public, but internally the ALP need to address the substance of this question: just how were so many of them duped?
A possible career move for Latham?