He speaks! Latham hits Melbourne University

During the week Mark Latham made his one (and so far, only) public appearance to promote his book, at the University of Melbourne. Latham spoke in the sterile and lifeless Copland theatre, buried deep within the Economic and Commerce faculty in a way that leads one to conclude that it doubles as a bomb shelter. Latham's speech, on the topic "10 reasons why young idealistic people should forget about organised politics" (which leads to the conclusion that there are plenty of reasons why young narcisstic opportunistic people should enter politics). Anyhow, Latham's speech attracted a fair bit of attention, particularly in The Age. Michael Gordon wrote about it, whilst the Op-Ed page published an extract of the speech itself.

The Age website also published the full text in a Word document on its website, obviously straight from the source, given that one "Janine Lacy" is listed as the author (head to File, then Properties, the Summary). Even more intriguingly, the title listed in this section is "27 December 2004", suggesting that it has been a while in the making.

As has been his want over the past fortnight, Latham was throwing plenty of punches during the speech. Whilst the stated theme of the lecture was a discourse on organised politics, Latham savaged the media for its treatment of him, and seemed to have as much contempt for the press as he has for his former Labor colleagues.

A few snippets of interest that haven't had a run in the mainstream media:

- Latham descibing his successor as Member for Werriwa, Chris Hayes, as "handpicked by the Sussex Street machine", SS being the headquarters of the NSW Labor Party.

- Latham said he had received numerous letters of support from various MPs (presumably they weren't all from Julia Gillard, perhaps with a different coloured pen?). One Labor frontbencher apparently wrote to Latham saying 'Congratulations on the book. It's mold compared to what really goes on.'

- Marky Mark described SMH journo Brad Norrington as a "Sussex Street Press Secretary" and insinuated a relationship between journalists Matt Price (The Oz) and Annabel Crabb (The Age), explaining that "No two friends are closer in Canberra".

- Latham was surrounded by security guards, and left before signing my copy of his book. Bastard.

For what it's worth, my take on the speech itself: Latham seems to miss the point the change can be achieved through both top-down and bottom-up methods, and that there is no need to disregard one in order to achieve the other. He frequently encourages young people to get involved in community and local programs rather than looking to organised politics as a means of achieving change. He does make the point effectively, though, that politics as it is currently practiced is a disfunctional process, and that there is a need for structural changes. His passionate dislike for both the media and the Labor machine is well-founded, though his 'bat, ball, go home' solution is a disappointment. Fundamentally, the problem with Latham's case is that it is so obviously fuelled by his own personal resentment at the rejection he suffered rather than a dispassionate analysis. Whilst there were plenty there to listen, most found Latham registering highly on their bullshit-meter.

Latham: too much hot air
Latham: too much hot air

Comments

John Lee said…
check out the Weekend Australian:

"Maverick Mark went one step further by urging all young ... idealistic Australians to shun politics ... Latham [is] seeking to poison the well of potential future leaders... to infect the innocent with his disillusionment".


It's been a while since I've heard political uni types described as 'innocent'
Lisa said…
I would probably reserve the "hot air" tag for Beazley [evidence] I have to agree with your assessment of Latham's mind and motives on this: if I can't succeed in Aussie politics then no one else should either. The implicit idea I guess is that the system is broken and the system is wrong. I have to say it's tempting to throw one's hands up and agree, but it's not a way forward. A way forward would have been for Latham to write a book explaining what all those other nasty people should have done; explaining what he should have done. Then there is a way forward for those "innocent idealists" and more chance of the "narcissistic opportunists" being spotted as such earlier.
nahum said…
Blather-m is really starting to give me the shits. He was a promising young ALP man but now he is just a bollocks, sorry bollock, of a man.

There is no place in Australian politics for someone as mad as he is. He's a nutter, sorry NUT, and he should just go home and roll about in his parliamentary superannuation cheques.

I reckon he is just a bad loser, and by revealing all this dirt on other people, he is reducing himself to their level. He is a sad man, and probably a fairly boring one. Most pollies are.

Unfortunately, Comrade Whitlam must have forgotten to teach him some manners. Even Whitlam, the only Prime Minister (and among a distinguished club of world leaders) to get the sack for doing a shit job (or a great job depending on your vantage point), at least had the decency to walk away with your head in the air.

He said his "because nothing will save the Governor General" line, then he moved on, became a statesman, and relished any opportunity to speak or write publicly.

This could have been Latham's future too, had he had the bollocks to suck in his gut and move on. If he hadn't published this shit, he could have spent his life writing opinion pieces, speaking at ritzy dinners and hobnobbing with the rich and famous like Keatin, Hawkie and God.
Anonymous said…
He never had the bollocks though... ;)
Anonymous said…
He did once.
Lisa said…
Please ignore the link I posted above. I didn't read it properly and it's not endorsed by Kim himself or the ALP.

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