The ex-leader factor

9 August 2010

Written by: Lawrie Zion

Could it be that Mark Latham will prove to be a turning point in favour of Labor’s quest for re-election?

The former Labor leader certainly did cross a line when he accosted Julia Gillard on Saturday. For all the awkwardness of the PM’s much touted “real Julia” transformation, her ability to stay calm and relatively good humoured during the Latham ambush shows a kind of unflappability we don’t often see in our leaders (certainly in the former Labor ones). This might turn out to be a key asset during the final two weeks of campaigning.

Meanwhile the Latham’s intrusive antics looks pretty shabby not just for him, but also for Nine. As Barrie Cassidy pointed out on Insiders on Sunday, David Gyngell might have apologised for Latham’s monstrous intrusion. But why hasn’t the former Labor leader been sacked from his journo job? His “story”, we can only assume, will still run next Sunday – less than a week before Australian go to the polls.

If it does, Nine will have crossed a line too. After yesterday, can there be any justification for not pulling the dump button on Latham? Imagine the howls of derision if the ABC decided to keep such a story in play after one of its journalists behaved in such a way.

That said, the Gillard’s former leader problem comes with the territory for all party leaders. But while Tony Abbott can brush off the real Malcolm’s claim that the Coalition isn’t ready to govern, the consequences of suddenly dropping pilot Rudd so close to an election were always going to create an array of unforseen unpredictabilities. The real Gillard must laugh when she hears Tony Abbott refer to Labor’s faceless men. She knows only too well that two of her biggest dangers are her former bosses whose faces are there for all to see.

Lawrie Zion is editor-in-chief of upstart. This piece was first published on the Election Predict 2010 site.

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