New Idea Politics

A veritable Niagara of comment has poured forth about Mark Latham in the last couple of days but the Daily Telegraph’s sordid little contribution gave me special pause.

Latham’s first wife, Gabrielle Gwyther, is featured, observing that:

“He talked about climbing the ladder to get to where he is but he climbed over me to get there. I was hurt. It was very difficult because I spent so much of my life looking after his career. It was 12 years of hard labour and emotional and financial support, all for nothing, she said.”

OK: how is the sum total of human knowledge – or even political knowledge – advanced by this not untypical review of a marriage that ended badly?

What are we supposed to conclude from this? That Latham is somehow unfit to lead the ALP because he’s divorced?

The Tele is one thing. The ABC is quite another. This morning ABC Local Radio in Sydney had Ms Gwyther on air chatting about how disappointing Mark had been in the hubbie of the year stakes. Ms Gwyther revealed the harrowing detail of how Mark’s Mum had given him special and favoured treatment over and above his three sisters. Not to mention how he banned Ms Gwyther from bringing feminist tracts into the family home. All pretty shocking, though I must say it did make me wonder: Bob Hawke, John Howard, Paul Keating, Mark Latham – all Mum’s Special Boys….but I digress.

“I wouldn’t vote for him’ she finally revealed, so I guess that’s the former Latham wife vote blown completely. But who cares? Of course, divorced spouses will offer less than laudatory appraisals of former spouses. The point is, why should we be interested? Because – sadly – it seems we are.

Latham made a brief and dignified response. Yes Gabrielle had given him wonderful support, he was very grateful to her for it, and he understood her feelings. It was the only dignified thing to come out of the whole tawdry episode. You’d think the Tele and the ABC might have been able to predict that sort of outcome – if they hadn’t been so absorbed in scanning “New Idea” for inspiration.

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Gummo Trotsky
2022 years ago

Mark Latham as the new John Hewson? Life just keeps getting stranger all the time.

David
2022 years ago

That was well put. A nice one. Measured and all. I would have been running round the kitchen shouting aaaarrrggg and donging the walls with a saucepan.

The ABC should be above this kind of thing. It justifies both our attention and its public money by its quality.

Niall
2022 years ago

As one who has failed at one marriage, I can unequivocally say that I learned valuable life lessons in the process, and some valuable things about me. I dare say Latham has experienced the same learning process, at least I hope he has. That being the case, he’s surely a better human being for it. Gabrielle Gwyther’s bleating sounds strangely like my ex’s bleats. Let’s face it, when a marriage fails, there’s more than one person at fault, but usually only one who acknowledges it.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

It is strange. Could be that Latham is seen as intriguing and we’ve just got to get all the information we can on him.

I thought he handled it well. In fact, he’s handled all his interviews well. He’s either found a top notch media adviser or he’s naturally good at it.

I don’t recall anyone seeking out the first Mrs Beazley to get the dirt on their divorce.

SP
SP
2022 years ago

That’s an interesting point Dave. I wonder if tt would have happened if Beazley had won this time, though she is the daughter of a former Liberal politician isn’t she, and maybe they are considered out-of-bounds.

I see Abbott accused Latham of “deserting” his first wife today in Parliament. I am not sure it will be a successful line of attack for the government.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Maybe Abbott was trying to goad Latham into saying something stupid, but it’s a big risk that Abbott is taking. It’s the kind of attack that is likely to attract sympathy to Latham.

And it’s also risky because there’s plenty of dirt Labor could throw on the Liberals personal lines. They could start with Abbott’s illegitimate son.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Maybe Abbott was trying to goad Latham into saying something stupid, but it’s a big risk that Abbott is taking. It’s the kind of attack that is likely to attract sympathy to Latham.

And it’s also risky because there’s plenty of dirt Labor could throw on the Liberals personal lives. They could start with Abbott’s illegitimate son.

SP
SP
2022 years ago

I agree, it is a big risk. The first thoughts I had when I saw the news item was that it was a bit rich of Abbott in particular to make the accusation, but also that it seems a bit dated to talk about deserting a spouse when a marriage breaks down in the late 1990s especially when there were no children involved and both partners have since remarried and had children.

I think that the government is at risk of looking quite out-of-touch with modern lives, and not only would Latham get sympathy but people could see that he is more likely to be empathetic with the complex issues in their lives. In that sense the government has possibly fallen into a trap.

Tim
Tim
2022 years ago

Shades of Wilson Tuckey and his attack on Keating. I suspect such things ultimately backfire. Strangely, the Libs seem a bit rattled by Latham.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Mark Latham, a combination of Arthur Calwell and John Hewson! The mind boggles.

Still, I might beg to differ a little here re the ABC. The piece I heard, at least, was not presented as a primary (New Idea) news source, but in the context of Sally Loan’s regualr (and uneven) weekly segment called ‘The Spin Doctors’, where various real life spin doctors (in this case Graham Morris and Sue Cato) supply their advice on how politicians should handle the news of the day … the point of which is to recognise that pollies are not always pefectly straight forward speakers. How would/should Mark Latham handle such a left field assault from the x? It was a good question, perhaps the most pertinent of the day in the program context, and the answers pretty much mirrored your post Geoff, and the commentators.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“Still, I might beg to differ a little here re the ABC. The piece I heard, at least, was not presented as a primary (New Idea) news source, but in the context of Sally Loan’s regualr (and uneven) weekly segment called ‘The Spin Doctors’, where various real life spin doctors (in this case Graham Morris and Sue Cato) supply their advice on how politicians should handle the news of the day … the point of which is to recognise that pollies are not always pefectly straight forward speakers. How would/should Mark Latham handle such a left field assault from the x? It was a good question, perhaps the most pertinent of the day in the program context, and the answers pretty much mirrored your post Geoff, and the commentators.”

I agree that Loane’s Gwyther interview was picked up in the Spin Doctors segment – “great radio!” Graham Morris declared – but you may have missed the online interview itself Chris, conducted around 9.30 as a newsflash interrupt to her normal session with Barry Cassidy. Loane’s probing analysis – of the “when did Mark stop beating you” genre – put me in depressingly familiar mind of her recent world exclusive chat with Paris Hilton.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“And it’s also risky because there’s plenty of dirt Labor could throw on the Liberals personal lives. They could start with Abbott’s illegitimate son.”

They already have. Latham launched a fairly smelly attack on Abbott in the House last year around his illegitimate son and deserting the priesthood. But your point’s well made Dave. The only possible outcome from this sort of engagement is an inexorably downward spiral to the place that Bill Heffernan occupies on a continuing basis.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Yeah, I did miss that. Sorry Geoff. Still, I guess I might still quibble a little, or at least wonder. I’m a News Radio listener, but what exactly is the function of 2BL? I always imagine it as an alternative to the utter abomination that is commercial radio. No advertising and somewhat more moderate in its perpectives, but still in a sense competing for listeners over the news of the day … the sort of radio my parents always listen to, and who wouldn’t listen to any radio if commercial was their only other option … which means it has a good role in my book. Of course I agree that trawling around ex-wives is about as low brow as you can get, but given the general current affairs orientation of the program, I can understand why Nurse Loan would go for the interview.

SP
SP
2022 years ago

My understanding of Latham raising Abbott’s son in parliament was in response to Abbott’s continuing baiting some of the ALP’s front bench about their fathers also being politicians. Abbott had been continually bringing it up trying to score political points and after a few weeks Latham finally said “at least they know who their father is”. Abbott then dropped that particular line of attack.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

And let us not forget, Sally Loane —

wen
wen
2022 years ago

OK: how is the sum total of human knowledge – or even political knowledge – advanced by this not untypical review of a marriage that ended badly?

Yes – you’re right, I s’pose – it doesn’t really advance anything in any way. But I have to confess (even while I know it’s awful & wrong wrong wrong) to finding such reviews utterly fascinating & compelling….

I always make sure my reading of New Idea (given to me by my Gran, never purchased, I swear) is well camouflaged (hidden behind a copy of the much higher-brow Womens Weekly, or even HQ). And I only ever read it for the recipes, and the occasionally useful tatting and smocking advice. Honest :)

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Iron Mark’s ex has almost completed a Phd thesis on sociology. Somehow I just knew that would be the case.

Information about the broken marriage should not have been on the radio nor the newspaper.

What about Iron Mark then marrying a person who worked for the Dark Lord sorry the Liberal party. How could he do It?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“I always make sure my reading of New Idea (given to me by my Gran, never purchased, I swear) is well camouflaged (hidden behind a copy of the much higher-brow Womens Weekly”

There’s no immediate redemptive scenarion offering from this sad little confession Wendy :)

Maybe if you offered to belt Homer every time he uses the already deeply hackneyed, “Iron Mark”…..? :-))

David
2022 years ago

or whacks a sociologist.

Homer is pushing Ancient Myths. -:)))

Jim Birch
Jim Birch
2022 years ago

Interesting about Latham’s response being the only dignified part of the whole episode – it half crystalized something for me. I know he’s a politician, but could he possibly have a real (surviving) streak of natural dignity?

It’s an alternative take on his conduct to the larrikinhardnut thesis that’s permeating. Or maybe I’m just having a psychological hiccup and normal cynical attitude will be resumed shortly…

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

“And I only ever read it for the recipes”. Just like the blokes that only read Penthouse for the racing car articles, Wen?

David
2022 years ago

Jim,
For good or ill, Latham is a natural soldier. What David Hackworth, populist/theoretician/priest of the American craft of arms, calls “the warrior.”

The people for whom “the light of battle in his eyes” was invented. So yes, Abbott will never provoke Latham unless he wants to lay waste and leave some bodies flopping around in the Parliamentary mud.

Keating had it too. Kennett thought he had it. Fraser was consumed by it. But the good Shakespearian soldier king has philosophers and writers in the camp – so who has that seat in a corner of Latham’s tent? Ah, there’s the rub..

Gabrielle Gwyther
Gabrielle Gwyther
2022 years ago

Give me a break you guys. I am one citizen of suburbia trying to deal with an inundation of pushy and manipulative media on my door step and on the telephone. I don’t have media minders and multiple telphone lines, unlike the polies. I am just trying to go about my business. If someone asks me a question, I try to answer it as truthfully as possible. Who can ask more than that. In fact, even when I refuse to answer media questions on my former hubby, replies still appear. On the 5.12.03photos were taken of me at a conference at which I delivered a paper, ostensibly to support the interview I did on my presenation on socio-economic differentiation in western Sydney. The paper was actually quite interesting. Perhaps an examination of media tactics might be more constructive than a deconstruction of my character.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“Give me a break you guys. I am one citizen of suburbia trying to deal with an inundation of pushy and manipulative media on my door step and on the telephone. I don’t have media minders and multiple telphone lines, unlike the polies. I am just trying to go about my business. If someone asks me a question, I try to answer it as truthfully as possible. Who can ask more than that. In fact, even when I refuse to answer media questions on my former hubby, replies still appear. On the 5.12.03photos were taken of me at a conference at which I delivered a paper, ostensibly to support the interview I did on my presenation on socio-economic differentiation in western Sydney. The paper was actually quite interesting. Perhaps an examination of media tactics might be more constructive than a deconstruction of my character.”

Gabrielle, the initial post was very much meant as a comment on “media tactics”. I don’t think your character is a legitimate target for media focus, nor your previous marriage. My apologies for any additional stress caused.

BTW, If you’d like to send your presentation to me, I’d be happy to put it up here, for discussion.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Geoff, you’ve really made it as a blogger now. Not only do you have Australia’s premier blog commenter (me) providing incisive insight, but you even have the subject itself (notwithstanding your soppy sucking up to the first Mrs Latham) joining in.

Congratulations.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Dave, I’m truly awash in good fortune – and it’s bloody decent of Australia’s premier blog commenter to take time to point it out :)

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Maker of myths? Who do you think wrote the Illiad?

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

“If someone asks me a question, I try to answer it as truthfully as possible.”

Didn’t Mark ever tell you just to shovel sand in their faces, Gabrielle?

Oh, that wasn’t Mark was it? Still a good idea though!

David
2022 years ago

Homer, isn’t the Iliad a commercial for private health?

Gabrielle, this mob needs you. Post on.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

ah that 15 minutes of fame.
I am glad that is over now.

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