For the carnival is over, we may never meet again.

As a number of commenters have already advised Troppo readers, Mark Latham has resigned as Labor Leader and as Member for Werriwa. At some point I might do a retrospective on Latho’s time in office, but at this stage I just want to wish him well, hope that he recovers his health, and thank him for an interesting year or so in Opposition.

I’m in the Uni library at the moment on the hunt for journal articles for my thesis, so I don’t have time for anything other than a quick post. My suspicion is that the party machine and elements of the Right faction will try to produce a consensus outcome – back to the Beazer. We’ve heard a bit over the past week or so about a previous Lazarus with a triple bypass. I think that this would be a mistake if Labor wants to have any chance of winning next time, though we have to remember that the contest might be Beazley v. Costello or Beazley v. Abbott if Howard doesn’t stick around for the full term. In favour of Beazley is that he’s a known quantity and that he did well in maintaining unity after the 96 defest. The arguments against are basically that he’s a failed leader electorally, has displayed few signs of policy innovation, and for some, his performance on the Tampa.

I think Labor needs to move on. My preferred leader is Gillard, but I’d be happy with Rudd. Smith might prove a wildcard and better than many anticipate. Swan’s probably best utilised where he is, and Tanner would be interesting.

UPDATE: Beazley’s in the race, Swan’s not.

FURTHER UPDATE: Gilly’s coming back from Vietnam, Ruddy says it’s more important for him to be in Aceh for the time being. Neither is saying if they’ll stand at this stage. Smith and Tanner haven’t been heard from yet. I’d say the weights are on to ensure a Beazley coronation by acclamation.

ELSEWHERE: The Currency Lad has a good roundup of blogosphere opinion. I agree with Rob’s initial assessment that Rudd probably won’t run – allowing Beazley to be elected unanimously. Since his colleagues with whom he’ll be consulting are likely to be the same colleagues that support the Beazer, I predict he won’t contest. Beattie’s endorsement of Beazley last night shows that Rudd’s own faction – Labor Unity – agrees with the Queensland AWU on this. A unanimous election would also mean that there is unlikely to be a vacancy in the Deputy’s chair. It all depends though on what the Creanites and Latho supporters do. It would make sense for everyone to support Beazer – he’s clearly an interim leader, no matter what noises he’s now making, and it leaves the growing field time to build a profile and position themselves for a later run.

I’d also recommend people read Andrew Bartlett’s interesting reflections on Latho.

Rob Corr has put up another post where he endorses Gilly. So do I, and I broadly agree with Rob’s analysis.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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flute
2022 years ago

Gillard, Gillard, Gillard.

Rudd is a bit of a fop
Smith is grey
Swan is a droolling mess
Tanner is a showpony

But it will be Dorian Beazley again.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

politics is howard’s life. They will carry him out in a box before he retires.

What would he do in retirement?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Homer, watch Janette’s health.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I support Gillard for reasons I’ve already outlined – she’d be a circuit-breaking moment whose advent could utterly shift the political terrain – but, sadly, it’s absolutely not going to happen. The party will fall in behind Beazley’s candidacy in a kind of unifying – and stabilising – moment. I can’t see it being for the long haul but he generates more likeability than any other federal politician and he represents the kind of solidity and stability than many people in the ALP are desperate for currently. Kevin Rudd’s fate has been sealed by the Premiers methinks – not yet.
The rest of them don’t rate publicly and a punt on another unknown is highly unlikely.

Darlene
2022 years ago

Unlike some, I am quite positive about the possible return of Beazley to the leadership.

He has a lot of qualities that make him attractive to the majority of Australians. That is, to people like me.

Rudd is whip smart, but lacks broad appeal.

If Howard isn’t going to be around next election, voters will have the choice of Beazley or Costello.

That will be a real contest.

Irant
Irant
2022 years ago

Gilly is in Cambodia? I though he missed the last one dayer because of a dodgy knee.

Feeble attempt at serious commment: Watching Beazley’s press conference reminded me that he is a damn good speaker. Even though he was reading a statement it didn’t seem that way at all. I was dismayed at Beazley’s last turn as leader. The small target ploy failed. If he has learned anything (and that is a big if) it will be not to follow Howard but present an actual alternative. My feeling is that Labor could of easily won 2001 if they hadn’t of followed Howard into his rhetorical trap regarding border policy.

Mark U
Mark U
2022 years ago

“It would make sense for everyone to support Beazer – he’s clearly an interim leader, no matter what noises he’s now making, and it leaves the growing field time to build a profile and position themselves for a later run.”

What is the point of appointing a twice failed leader as an interim leader? A return to Beazley will lead to another election loss to Howard in 2007 leaving the party in exactly the same position it found itself in after the 2001 election. Labor needs to establish a new leader who can build up the party’s credentials and have some chance of winning in 2010, in the way that Whitlam did post Calwell. The only alternative is to find another Bob Hawke. Unfortunately, I can’t see anyone in the current Labor crop with the talent or charisma to follow either path to the Prime Minister’s position.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“What is the point of appointing a twice failed leader as an interim leader?”

Mark, I agree with you. That’s why I’m backing Gillard. The excerpt you quote is what I think the Labor Party caucus, factions and machine are probably thinking. Sorry if I didn’t make that clearer.

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2022 years ago

When the Beazer ran against Latham he said that Labor needed to punch through on four or five big issues. That was a specific rejection and admission of the error of the small target strategy. But then pundits and journos don’t seem to listen to what he actually says, which is a bit of a worry.

On reflection I think Latham was marginally not intelligent enough and lacked the communication skills to get his policies across. The Bomber is smart enough and I believe has a good record as a campaigner. One more time is enough, though. President Lula of Brazil made it on the fourth attempt.

I actually think Beazley is Labor’s best chance for the next election, although I wish Tanner would see himself in the leadership stakes.

Rudd doesn’t communicate enough warmth and is said not to be liked all that much by his colleagues.

I like Gillard, but I heard an extended interview with her last year. She was strong on social justice issues but didn’t seem to be at all at ease with economics/business. I think she could do with a bit more policy broadening before she takes on the conservatives. As Greg Combet says, we need a Labor leader who can tell a story about where we’ve come from and where we’re going to on the economy.

Robert
2022 years ago

The 7.30 Report said Rudd had more support than he was being given credit for. Supporters buying him time? Or will he challenge?

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

Unfortunately that all makes pretty good sense, Brian. But what’s with this ‘Beazer’ business? It sounds like something the boys at Greyfriars would say.

Mark Latham turned out to be just a bit too weird. It’s as though he suffers from some kind of mild autism or something: self-obsessed, unable to give credit, unwilling to share his feelings and plans, unable to process other people’s reactions and feedback. As an individual thinker, he’s probably no worse at policy than anyone else, but you need teamwork, a range of perspectives and good communication to hammer out consistent, workable and politically accaptable policies. It’s all a bit of a shame, because he had imagination, commitment, passion, and flair.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

“My feeling is that Labor could of easily won 2001 if they hadn’t of followed Howard into his rhetorical trap regarding border policy.”

Yeah and if Gough hadn’t been sucked into Fraser’s economic rhetoric then he wouldn’t have been sacked in 75.

This type of thinking is precisely that which keeps Labor in opposition Federally. Oh and before any of you start up with the howl that the electorate is easily conned by slick rhetoric, can I remind you emphatically that this is the same electorate that voted sea to sea Labor in the States AND agreed with Howard on deciding who comes here, as well as reserving the right to the pre-emptive strike, while concurring completely with Howard’s stance toward tidal wave victims. Some rhetoric indeed!

IMO Beasley will be coopted unopposed largely for 2 reasons. Firstly the other challengers all have much weaker minority support within the Party and secondly any prospective challenger would strongly suspect the next election is unwinnable. If you stand now and win, you are probably on a hiding to nothing to emulate Latham’s rise and fall, whereas when Beasley predictably loses an election again, he will no doubt vacate the scene for good. The stage will then be completely free for the next actor to strut his stuff. The only risk in this reluctant but safe approach is that Beasley surprises all and does a Howard.

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2022 years ago

James the “Beazer” bit came from Back Pages, I think.

Observa, I think Beazley really wants to win and thinks he can more than the other candidates, I suspect. That’s why he is probably best this time. I wouldn’t think he sees himself as interim. Still whether he wins or not it would give Julia time to mature who would be my next pick.

Jason Soon
2022 years ago

even as a ‘quasi’ right winger I think it would be a nice change to have someone from the Left of the party as leader. it would be, as someone above noted, a circuit breaker, and it might even creative incentives for the Left of the party to become more electable and become more realistic. these reasons alone would be good ones for Gillard as leader but in addition, she seems to be unusually competent and savvy for someone from the Left and therefore would be a nice combination of grittiness and idealism.
plus it would also be nice to have someone hot as leader of a political party in Australia for a change:-) (sorry, I know someone will complain about this sort of thing only being said about women politicians but realistically, if Mark Latham had been some tanned spunk do you really think women wouldn’t comment on this as a relevant attribute?)

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I’ll let the second para go through to the keeper, Jason, but the first I agree with. When you think about the FTA, Julia is the only one who is likely to have seriously considered the case against, partly because she does not have her head into economics to the same degree and there was plenty of warrant in the Senate C’tee findings under Peter Cook to shaft the thing.

Rip
Rip
2022 years ago

But have you seen the real reason Latham’s quitting politics?

http://www.dailyripper.com/archives/2005/01/16/latham-to-lead-midnight-oil/

trackback
2022 years ago

The Bling Is Dead…

Mark Bahnisch thinks Julia Gillard’s time has come and points out that the new Labor leader could be facing either Peter Costello or Tony Abbott at the next election.

trackback
2022 years ago

Some thoughts on Mark Latham

I don’t claim to know Mark Latham well, but I have little doubt that it was not the apparently terminal position of his Leadership that was the major factor in his decision today. I would bet it was the thought of missing more of his boys&#8217…

trackback
2022 years ago

He’s out!

Latho’s out. Ideally it’ll be dealt with quickly and quietly. Realistically, I suspect they’ll just keep on sucking and the people of Australia will continue not voting for them….

trackback
2022 years ago

And He’s Spent…

Goodbye, Marky-poo. I remember when you first knocked The Beaze out of the ring to take control of Australia’s favourite dysfunctional posse, the Australian Labor Party. There was excitement in the air – finally, after years of being a soft-core …