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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

truth telling in politics « Previous | |Next »
September 18, 2005

I'm finally back on deck. I've been very busy in Melbourne at meetings since early Friday and I had little chance to post until now.

Over the weekend I did mange to catch the Latham interviews on Enough Rope on Thurday night and Lateline on Friday night--but not he legal manoeuvrings. I saw a more measured Latham to the over-the-top one of the diaries. The latter is being characterised by the ALP and media as being so full of resentment, anger and envy that he can only unleash a river of bile on his former colleagues.

Golding A1.jpg

Suprisingly, it is the Murdoch press leading the charge against Latham--- the rant and ravings of an embittered madman is the line. Well, I'm with Latham on this. He's telling the truth about the way both the ALP and the media conduct their business. He is opening things up about the political culture for all to see. And we should look long and hard.

Latham has wounded Labor. He meant to. And he has good reason to do so given the appalling way that it treated him. Unnamed ALP sources going on about Latham being a rat is not going to cover up the deeper insight that we will gain into the poisonous workings of the federal ALP. That is the value of Latham's diaries.

Will the ALP openly address what we citizens know? Address the divergence between what Labor members felt about the way the factions operated and the machine politics of the Labor's factional system? Or will the factional machine regain control of the ALP and ensure the conformity of the factional ALP culture?

I didn't have the time to read the op ed. commentary in the print media. Some think the issue is just not worth it. From what I've seen by way of the headlines the general tendency has been to continue to cast Latham as a mad dog----to attack his flawed character, exaggerated claims and anger. They do not address the issues about the brutality of machine politics, the dysfunctionality of the ALP, the corruption of the media, the breakdown of community or the decay of ethical life, or the way that political parties are becoming out of touch with their members and with the electorate.

That kind of response ---character destruction not policy debate ---is the game that is played by the political culture. That says something does it not?

I have yet to see any critical self reflection by the media about the way that Latham has exposed the media and the Canberra Press Gallery conducts its business in terms of the drip feed, innuendo and rumor based on unmamed sources.

How many of the Canberra Press Gallery will defend, endorse, or welcom the truth telling in the Latham Diaries about the way journalists work; and then be willing to stand up to the heat from their unmamed sources and colleagues? The strategy of the corporate media, like that of the ALP's political establishment is to demonise the Diaries and Mark Latham.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:54 PM | | Comments (3)


I think the problem with Latham's diaries is that they don't really seem to add very much to what we already know. Most of what he has to say that anyone is actually taking any note of is just gossip and slander. Being rude and crude and abusing misplaced trust is proving more interesting in the context of the ALP than intellectual commentary.

In effect Latham's diaries have merely re-iterated what was already obvious to many; that the ALP is in need of structural reform, and that the media is addicted to gossip.

A string of thoughtful op/ed columns or a book dedicated to constructive criticisms of the way the party operates would have been infinitely more useful to everyone, with the possible exception of the Liberal Party, who have just had their ammunition caches reloaded.


Yes to your view that "Latham's diaries have merely re-iterated what was already obvious to many; that the ALP is in need of structural reform, and that the media is addicted to gossip." And, I would add, also addicted to the drip feed.

But many outside the world of politics do not know the extent of the sickness in the daily practices that take place behind the appearances or how the factions in parties can contribute to suicide attempts.

Latham, in blowing the cover open, shows how gossip and rumor is used by factions to undermine and destroy those within one's own party.

You would have to be blind freddy not to realize some of the essential truths that are spoken in the book. In particular that money, manipulative political systems and media are to a large extent disenfranchising the elector.
We might have many things in Australia but it aint democracy if you still consider that to be 'of the people','for the people','by the people'