Dear Squatters,

OK, OK. It’s full of “poisonous bile” and it says more about its author than it says about anything serious. But amid the venom and recrimination, a pathetic Mark Latham is actually trying to say something worthwhile. Whether anyone hears him is another matter, but today, several Crikey writers have put on their ear-muffs and tried to listen to the substance below the corrosive crackle. Here’s what they’ve heard:

“The tragedy is that Latham’s performance as a political ‘suicide bomber’ may distract attention from what should be a significant public debate. There is, on both sides of politics, a poisonous and corrosive culture.” – John Hewson.

“While many journalists will be urged by their Labor Party contacts to dismiss The Latham Diaries as the ravings of an embittered madman, we shouldn’t forget one thing: Mark Latham is making a major contribution to the collective public knowledge of Australian politics. The contrast between the image projected by Latham and his former colleagues last year with what we are being told now shows how much spin and deception there really is in politics. We were all duped.” – Stephen Mayne.

“In around a week we will forget the stories of what happens in Canberra’s nightclubs when politicians and the media drink together, and we’ll start to ponder what, if anything, can be taken seriously from Latham’s claims about Labor and Australian politics … one of Latham’s important points is that political parties are at risk of becoming out of touch with their members and with the electorate.” – John Roskam.

But don’t expect much of a serious debate to be generated by Latham’s tome. Bile on this scale is hardly conducive to worthwhile discussion – it just fosters more bile. And amid all this morning’s bilefest, this is the one we liked best – from a “Labor figure” quoted in the Financial Review: “This just goes to prove that experiments should happen in laboratories with rats. We got the laboratory part wrong.”

Unless you’re Mark Latham, we hope you don’t have a bilious weekend.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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