Thursday, January 09, 2003

In an encouraging move, the Australian Labour Party is apparently elevating Mark Latham to a senior front bench position, despite that fact that the man has not always been what could be described as a team player. This at least seems to be a move towards someone who cares about policy and away from dreadful party hacks veering off into unelectable lefto orthodoxy that we have had in the ALP since Paul Keating's election loss in 1996. As a sign that Australian Latham has what in sporting terms would be referred to as the "sledging skills" necessary for success in Australian politics. Foreigners should be aware that a rude and crude quality in an Australian politician does not necessarily indicate a lack of policy sophistication - it is more a basic survival skill in certain male-dominated parts of Australian survival.

It's interesting that the SMH reports this in terms of ALP internal politics - this may be a bad move for Opposition Leader Simon Crean as it moves someone who may stab him in the back closer to him - rather than in terms of how it affects the question of whether Labor can actually win an election any time soon. The fact that it is happening at all indicates that Labor is starting to get interested in the second question again. Until the last election, Labor seemed to be sitting there and assuming that pretty soon the electorate would come to hate Prime Minister Howard as much as they did, and that they would then sweep into office. This clearly didn't happen, and their choice then was (and is) whether the fade off into oblivion or whether to actually do something. They now may actually be doing something.

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