When I was the copyboy for The Australian in
Canberra in the mid 1960s, there were only two things that terrified me
more than my daily confrontations with the fierce visage that was Alan
Ramsey at the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

They were: following
my deceased predecessor to a sticky end while driving the flongs used
to print the paper in Sydney and Melbourne at breakneck speeds on icy
roads to Canberra airport; and having to make the return journey to the
Mort Street office with Rupert and Anna Murdoch in the back seat of the
office Volkswagen.

Ramsey treated copyboys much the same as he
treated prime ministers – “you’re a liar” – but I had a sneaking
respect for him because, in those days, we shared the same left-wing

But I really must protest this “let’s sack Ramsey”
lynch mob being led by my comrade colleagues Paddy McGuinness and
Christian Kerr. Surely, I don’t have to remind either of these two
counter-cyclical commentators of Voltaire’s dictum: “I disagree with
what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

These days, I disagree violently with most things that Ramsey says in his SMH
columns – but I sure get a chuckle out of reading them and the
vitriolic angst they contain. It was the first reaction I looked for
after the 2004 election; it’s also the first page I open in Saturday’s SMH.

Gentlemen, before you line up the firing squad to dispatch Comrade Ramsey to the Never Never – take heed of this wonderful read about how the NSW ALP decided Labor’s candidate for Mark Latham’s seat of Werriwa.

I know, it carries great slabs of quotes from Rodney Cavalier’s March
issue of the Southern Highlands ALP branch newsletter. And, yes, Ramsey
has cannibalised this font of wisdom in the past. But it still makes
for great reading. Please spare the rod to save the child.

CRIKEY: Read our subscriber feedback on McGuinness and Ramsey on the site here.