May 2005: ‘It is not unusual for people who try to change the system to leave public life with feelings of betrayal and disappointment. This was certainly my experience as Labor Leader. My commitment to the Labor cause was destroyed by the bastardry of others.’
-Mark Latham, The Latham Diaries
This weekend former ‘progressive’ Australian Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, will launch his political memoirs, complete, the publishers boast, with an ‘insult on every page’.
It’s all over the media here in Sydney – The Australian is publishing excerpts today because its publisher, Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd, has paid $100k for ‘media rights’.
The word is that Latham has put the boot into just about everyone on his own side of politics, but in the book’s introduction he points out that in his view the still-reigning conservative party has an equally poisonous and opportunistic culture.
The real art in reading The Diaries will be in deciding what’s important and what’s just gossip. Even if it’s true, does it matter if Kevin Rudd sobbed and begged for the position of Shadow Treasurer? Or is it more concerning that he’s ‘owned’ by the United States ‘lock, stock and barrel’, as former Prime Minister Paul Keating is alleged to have confided in Latham?
Ideally politics is viewed as the means to ends, not an end in itself. Many of the things that make Australia great: universal education and health care; protections for our diverse environment and a fair go for all, are fostered and defended through our political system. Many of us don’t like politics, but almost all of us like what politics can achieve.
For all his obvious rough edges, many Australians believed that Mark Latham’s focus was his vision for a fairer nation. Sadly, his own record of events looks set to demonstrate that he was more driven by ego and personal vendettas than by a grand vision for an even better Australia.