Crikey reader Niall Clugston sent this comment in today: “Perhaps this current crisis could be an opportunity for political commentators to admit that, for all his faults, Mark Latham was telling us the truth. But, then, they have egos bigger than politicians.”

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. It’s the ABC’s AM program, on the morning of Thursday, September 15, 2005. Kevin Rudd is responding to accusations in the newly-published The Latham Diaries — among them that Rudd was a terrible piece of work, addicted to the media and leaking, King of the Caveats, a junior minister at best, and that Latham would like to make him “minister for the Pacific Islands”.

At the time, Rudd understandably took umbrage at Latham’s characterisation, and his version of several key events. But that’s not the most illuminating part of this particular interview:

“Alex, it was just sad that we’ve now got a former leader who thinks that it’s a smart thing to try and sink torpedoes into the show. I don’t think that’s going to work, I think it’s perhaps part of Mark’s recovery therapy out there in Latham land, wherever that is. But the bottom line is this, the party’s bigger than that.”

Not merely is Rudd now sinking torpedoes into the show, the Gillard camp are responding in kind in a civil war that suggests suppressing the anger of June 2010 has merely delayed its explosion, not calmed it.

As Bernard Keane suggests today, the Labor implosion currently occurring isn’t just about Rudd’s popularity versus Gillard’s caucus support — it reflects a party that has become hollowed-out, uncertain of its way, and no longer able to rely on its factional system to provide discipline and structure. This has been a long building, and goes back much further than 2010.

Labor MPs insisting that all will be settled on Monday, that all must be settled on Monday, are delusional. Labor’s problems much run deeper than Kevin.


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Peter Fray

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