Crikey’s political correspondent Christian Kerr likes to be controversial. Read on for another example as he looks at the former leadership team that was Mark Latham and Jenny Macklin.



When will Macklin get thrown overboard?



Subscriber email February 8

The forever shy and retiring Christian Kerr writes:

While they might still be toasting Kim Beazley’s return down at Das Kapital, everyone with half a brain knows that the Bomber’s reappearance as Labor leader is merely a two-term strategy under a different name. So while the bruvvers work out who their leader in the long term will be, why don’t they do some work towards a brighter future and take an axe to Jenny Macklin.

Macklin has got away with murder while the Gallery have either been sunning themselves or wiping bits of Latham off their clothes over the last six weeks. She was acting Labor leader when the tsunami struck, but failed to respond.

Our ever vigilant meeja only noticed that Labor had gone missing when she went on hols herself and Senate leader Chris Evans was in the chair – a week or so later.

Macklin supposedly told Evans that there’d been no response to the disaster from the opposition because Latham had had another bout of pancreatitis. So what. It happened on her watch.

Remember the way in which John Button took the rap for Keating on the “what have the Americans ever done for us” story all those years ago. Well, who better to use as a fall guy than Iron Mark in full Colonel Kurtz mode?

What’s the bet that all the top ranks of Labor, their staff and the secretariat all stuffed up? What’s the bet that they were all still in a sulk over the election result and didn’t give a stuff about the tsunami – and only realised its importance too late, once the Prime Minister had stolen yet another march on them?

The Latham health stories are sus – as the Terrigal sightings show. If he had been in hospital for tests, news surely would have leaked.

I know a bit about depression. Been there, done that. It’s nasty.

London to a brick Latham was suffering and suffering badly – which is why he was in hiding. That haircut at his farewell gig screamed “self-mutilation”. And when your mental health goes, your physical health goes too. Poor sod.

Mark Latham was sacrificed to propitiate the gods. Jenny Macklin just lay low. Huh! She might have the smarts to survive a spill, but will she ever win a single vote? Nah!

Beazley already looks like p*ss and wind. If he wants to survive until the end of the term, he needs to revamp his frontbench and put a performer into the deputy’s job.

Straightening out Iron Mark’s dents


Subscriber email February 9

Political correspondent Christian Kerr writes:

I didn’t expect yesterday’s comments on the ALP to go unanswered, dear subscribers – even before the editor sicked you onto me.

But guess what. I got one email that I’d have to take as a negative, one asking “what sort of political leader would let anyone up to doing their job be their deputy”, piles agreeing with me on the Beazley/Macklin dynamo – and remarkable feedback on health and politics.

A fascinating exchange from Meet the Press last Sunday seems to have been ignored:

MALCOLM FARR: I just want to ask about the Senate. Just before I do, do you anticipate that Mark Latham will be assisting you in Werriwa at all in any of the campaigning?

KIM BEAZLEY: Mark needs to use the time to fully recover from his illnesses. I wouldn’t put any pressure on him at all.

Illnesses? Plural? Kim? Pancreatitis and… and… what?

Here’s a couple of grabs from the mailbag:

I read your take on Latham regarding his mental health and I whole-heartedly agree. His problems are mental, not political.

My amateur psychological analysis is that Latham has a “messiah complex” (is that a real medical complex, or did I make it up?). It goes like this: His whole reason for being for the last 20 years has been aimed at achieving one thing: becoming prime minister. Add it up: his early Labor party involvement, his university study, his writings and rantings, his parliamentary career, the choices he made as a politician, and finally his ascension to the leadership. Everything he did, in his own mind, was executed to lead him inexorably to the prime ministership.

It appears to me that he lived his own fable. All his life he believed that once he was in a position to take the party to an election then the people would come with him. Destiny would prevail. How could the people not be carried along by the whole suburbs-to-Canberra fairy tale?

It never entered his head that the people would reject him so once he lost the election the whole story fell in a heap, and so did he. Failing at the last hurdle was never in the script and he did not know how to handle it. He did not appear during January because he had already given up. I don’t think he ever had any intention of carrying on as leader – tsunami or no tsunami, pancreatitis or no pancreatitis. Mentally, he gave up on election night and that was that.

I agree with you. He is crook. He has not handled his life falling apart and he needs help. Poor sod.

And this:

Hi Christian

Maybe I’ve missed something, but your snippet today is the first time I have read any up front conjecture about Latham being depressed. Which has surprised me – he was showing signs long before the tsunami.

You will recall the stories that appeared in December during his disastrous trip to Western Australia. One story from that trip that didn’t get told was his truly gruesome effort at a party faithful sundowner where he was obviously abandoned, disoriented and badly broken.

He turned up without any minders to keep him moving on; a party of nutters got hold of him and banged on at him for 15 minutes before anyone came near him. That just doesn’t happen at these dos.

There were no WA parliamentary members present and the only Federal member supporting him as far as I can recall was Senator Ruth Webber. Top choice of sidekick.

After the snacks were all eaten someone suggested Latham could address the noticeably thin crowd. He shambled up to the podium and struggled for maybe ninety seconds to say something – anything! Pretty much all that came out was a meek suggestion that the ALP had great policies, tonight the true believers had come out and thanks.

It was agony. His Missus was there clearly dying and a collective ‘what in God’s name was that about’ ran through the room.

I went along as a bit of sport with some mates and was genuinely shocked. Compassionate even, because he obviously was a broken, lost soul.