What a
peculiar beast is the Australian Labor Party. Those most responsible for its
devastating defeat at the last election – of such magnitude as to ensure a
further defeat at the next election – are now seen as either victim or future
leader.

Simon Crean,
along with half his party and most of the media, sees himself as an intended
victim of a disloyal leader and a corrupt and corrosive faction system set upon
removing him and his innocence from the parliament.

This from the
man who for no other reason than bloody-minded revenge both against Beazley and
those who supported Crean’s replacement as leader, fiercely campaigned for Mark
Latham against Beazley. In what could only have been an act of deliberate
bast*rdry, Crean gave Labor the worst, most destructive, emotionally unbalanced
and utterly unsuitable candidate to have stood for a parliamentary leadership
position in any political party in Australia in living memory.

In spite of
whatever faults Beazley may possess, he most certainly would not have allowed Howard
and the Liberal Party to run the entire campaign without engaging them on their
interest rate claims about both Labor and the Liberal Party and nor would he
have decimated the logging votes both in Tasmania and on the mainland.

There would
have been no devastating saturation advertising of “L” for Learner Latham, and no
“L” for Liverpool. In truth, the campaign was
all about Latham and his appalling third way tactic of not confronting the most
lethal issue of the election.

None of
these critical and devastating components would have been available to the
Liberal Party had Beazley been leader albeit Howard would still have won with a
reduced majority and slimmer margins in a number of seats.

Upon his
reindorsement, in spite of the faction system which had previously been
entirely responsible for his entry into parliament, Crean set about destroying
whatever meagre chance Beazley had of providing the electorate with a
competitive alternate to the Howard government. It is a destruction from which
Beazley has not and will not recover.

While
Crean
was taking a battle axe to his own party, Julia Gillard, the new
pretender, forever indelibly stained with her toxic Medicare Gold, was also doing her very best to tear down
Beazley and finally bury Labor’s prospects at the next election: All this while
clumsily and shamelessly trailing her own brassy ambitions.

Having been
a starry-eyed acolyte of Latham’s and one of his campaign lieutenants for the
leadership, Gillard must take a very sizable share of the shame for Latham’s
leadership and her party’s consequential humiliating defeat.

And so we
have the two principal architects of offering this once great party into the
outstretched hands of irrelevance, now anointed victim and salvation. Having
irredeemably and wilfully destabilised Beazley, these and their kind are now
putting Beazley on notice.

It is indeed
a peculiar beast this Australian Labor Party.

Peter Fray

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