“A grade
ars*holes” talk of Labor as “beyond repair, beyond reform” and Kim
Beazley as a “stand-for-nothing” leader are the topics dominating
headlines in the lead-up to the launch of Bernard Lagan’s Mark Latham
biography this afternoon. But there’s also some pretty damned good
analysis that goes behind the grabs that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Michelle Grattan makes the obvious points about petulance and how Latham brought it all upon himself in The Age – but also has this reminder for any fragile-feeling faction hacks:

Latham really has very little to be bitter about. It was
Simon Crean whom the Beazley forces went after, and Latham in the end
benefited from that, elected leader in 2003 in a narrow win over
Beazley…

Over at the Sydney Morning Herald, Uncle Alan continues to indulge Latham:

In December Latham went down again with the pancreatitis
that had stricken him earlier. In mid-January, after some orchestrated
Labor hysteria, assisted by enthusiastic media cronies, Latham lost his
nerve and resigned as leader. Ten days later the factions reinstated
Kim Beazley, their favourite loser.

Conspiracy theories seem to be afflicting Ramsey in his old age. There’s a nice belt in his column at Steve Lewis of The Australian, who’s been making most of the running on The Loner, despite Bernie Lagan awarding the rights to The Bulletin.

Ramsey says this is The Oz “defending jolly ol’ Kim” – but he’s spotted something else from his grassy knoll that might be worth a closer look:

John Faulkner, a genuine senior Labor Party figure rather
than a media figment, launches Lagan’s book today… It will be
interesting to hear what he thinks of the book and, maybe, even what The Australian has been doing to ridicule, if not bury, politically, Latham’s views in it.

Somebody,
too, should ask Stephen Conroy what he thinks, both of the book and
whatever it is Faulkner says today. After all, Faulkner must have read
with interest The Australian‘s front-page frenzy on Monday,
which included the paragraph: “Labor insiders were also questioning the
motive behind Senator Faulkner’s decision to launch the explosive book,
with speculation he might use the occasion to defend his key role in
last year’s campaign.”

Labor “insiders”, you find, are always anonymous.

On
the other hand, Conroy, as a senior member of the Victorian Right,
detests Latham… As Labor’s Senate deputy leader, Conroy was deputy to
Faulkner for three years before Faulkner quit the Senate leadership in
October, and must have been less than amused when Perth’s Chris Evans,
from the Left, succeeded Faulkner, leaving Conroy to again play second
fiddle.

There are those in the Labor Party who’d very much like
to hear, out loud, what it is Conroy thinks of Latham’s views and
Lagan’s book, rather than picking up back-of-the-hand press gallery
scuttlebutt and reading heroic newspaper beat-ups.

Who knows, there might be a book in it.

Peter Fray

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