April 27, 2004

LATHAM GRASPS AT "FOREIGN LEADERS"

Glenn Milne reports the strangest tactic yet from an increasingly dippy Latham-led Labor Party:

In a move that will only serve to emphasise the growing divide between Mark Latham and his one-time idol Tony Blair over the issue of troops in Iraq, the British Prime Minister has refused an invitation to come to Australia to effectively launch the Opposition Leader's election campaign.

In what you'd have to describe as a bizarre initiative, interests close to Latham have sent an email to large corporations in Australia advertising a visit by not only Blair but Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt (an Australian by birth) and influential Labour backbencher Peter Mandelson.

An email obtained by Milne, sent to various corporations by an ALP-linked consultancy firm, reads:

"Attendees have not been finalised but are likely to include federal Opposition Leader Mark Latham, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, Minister Patricia Hewitt, Peter Mandelson, MP and academic, and architect of third-way politics Tony Giddens. Discussions between these high-level political and policy leaders are likely to produce both immediate and long-term outcomes of great importance. It is intended that the three-day seminar provide the launch point for the policies Mark Latham will take to the electorate in the election."

Trouble is, Blairís office says Blair won't be involved at all:

Despite it being Saturday in London, a spokesman for Blair got back within the hour, saying although 10 Downing Street never commented directly on the Prime Minister's travel plans for security reasons, he was authorised to give the following response to the summit proposal: "The Prime Minister doesn't engage in domestic political campaigns in other countries. It is a matter for the people of those countries to elect who they want to lead them."

Milne concludes:

If you think the Blair Government is in any way prepared to excuse Latham for his position on Iraq, you should have been in Berlin 3 1/2 weeks ago when Foreign Minister Alexander Downer met his British counterpart, Jack Straw. Downer was attending an international conference on rebuilding Afghanistan Ė which, in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings, coincided with concerted efforts to keep the coalition of the willing together in Iraq. Downer has told colleagues that Latham's position was well known, from the NATO Secretary-General to Straw.

Asked for his response to any potential Blair visit yesterday, Downer went right to the heart of the lunacy of the Hawker Britton proposal: "Mr Blair is always very welcome to come to Australia. And it would be an opportunity for him to explain to Mr Latham why it is not right to cut and run in Iraq."

On "cut and run", the Wall Street Journal has this to say about Lathamís views, and his recent Clinton sampling:

Mr. Latham's promises are longer -- or "more ambitious" as he insisted on radio late last week as he denied the charges of plagiarism -- though they are also somewhat less grammatical by consistently conjugating "every" in the plural. Less convincing was the argument by parliamentarians in Mr. Latham's Labor Party that when Mr. Howard and his ministers use the phrase "cut and run" about governments pulling troops out of Iraq, they are plagiarizing U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Believe us -- cut and run predates Mr. Armitage. And everyone will know that's exactly what Mr. Latham intends when he promises to pull Australia's 2,000 troops out of Iraq.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 27, 2004 05:10 AM
Comments

Hey mate, today's the 26th, not the 27th.

Posted by: Sean at April 27, 2004 at 05:12 AM

Hey Tim (or readers),

Can someone explain to me the relationship (government wise) between Australia and the UK?

Also, what are the major political parties in Australia and whether they are generally more conservative or liberal. I've been reading here for a couple months, and would like to better understand Australia politics.

Thanks

Posted by: Steve at April 27, 2004 at 05:43 AM

Hey Sean, you ever hear about the concept of "time zones"?

Posted by: PW at April 27, 2004 at 05:48 AM

Time zones? Drat! I thought I was getting tomorrow's news today.

Posted by: Dave T. at April 27, 2004 at 07:01 AM

In the U.S. the opposition candidate meets with foreign leaders at dining establishments where they root him on to victory. Perhaps your opposition leader can find a quaint bistro to meet with Mr. Blair. Or maybe he can just bullshit like Kerry.

Posted by: JohnO at April 27, 2004 at 07:23 AM

Steve,

AUstralia and the UK are two independent countries that have very close ties, mostly through the fact that Australia was founded by the British in the 18th Century. The two countries share a Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II and are both members of the Commonwealth of Nations (an organisation of countries who were part of the British Empire).

There are three main political parties in Australia: The Liberal Party, the National Party and the Labor Party (or ALP). The Liberal and National Parties are both Conservative (the first mainly urban and the second mainly rural). For about 80 years these two have acted mostly in concert. Thus, when these two together form a majority in Federal Parliament they will rule as a Coalition, with the head of the larger Liberal Party as Prime Minister and the head of the National Party as Deputy Prime Minister. Hence, a reference to "the Coalition" is a reference to the combined COnservative parties in Australian politics. AS you can guess the Liberal Party was formed as fusion between Conservatives and old fashioned Liberals, thus in some ways it sits to the left of the Republicans in the US. However, under John Howard the Conservative wing of the party has been predominant.

The Labor Party stared off as a socialist party and has gradually evolved into a social democratic party. It is strongly affiliated with the Trade (Labor) Unions. The ALP has institutionalised factions of Right, Centre Left and Socialist Left in its ranks. Mark Latham is from the Right faction, though many in that faction find him abhorrent. As a whole the ALP would be termed "Liberal" in the US.

Posted by: Toryhere at April 27, 2004 at 09:15 AM

Steve,

AUstralia and the UK are two independent countries that have very close ties, mostly through the fact that Australia was founded by the British in the 18th Century. The two countries share a Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II and are both members of the Commonwealth of Nations (an organisation of countries who were part of the British Empire).

There are three main political parties in Australia: The Liberal Party, the National Party and the Labor Party (or ALP). The Liberal and National Parties are both Conservative (the first mainly urban and the second mainly rural). For about 80 years these two have acted mostly in concert. Thus, when these two together form a majority in Federal Parliament they will form a Coalition Government, with the head of the larger Liberal Party as Prime Minister and the head of the National Party as Deputy Prime Minister. Hence, a reference in the media to "the Coalition" is a reference to the combined Conservative parties in Australian politics. AS you can guess the Liberal Party was formed as fusion between Conservatives and old fashioned Liberals, thus in some ways it sits to the left of the Republicans in the US. However, under John Howard the Conservative wing of the party has been predominant.

The Labor Party,which is strongly affiliated to the Trade (Labor) Unions, stared off as a socialist party and has gradually evolved into a social democratic party. The ALP has institutionalised factions of Right, Centre Left and Socialist Left in its ranks. Mark Latham is from the Right faction, though many in that faction find him abhorrent. As a whole the ALP would be termed "Liberal" in the US.

Posted by: Toryhere at April 27, 2004 at 09:19 AM

Shouldn't the headline of this post read LATHAM GASPS AT "FOREIGN LEADERS"?

Posted by: JeffS at April 27, 2004 at 09:59 AM

Thanks for the great overview, Toryhere! More than two viable parties is beyond the ken of alot of us Yanks. We just have the good guys and the bad guys with an occasional third party spoiler.

If Latham needs a foreign endorsement, why not Zapatero? He has expressed interest in engaging in domestic political campaigns outside of Spain and may be available, now that Kerry has had to turn him down. The two seem to have similar views on downsizing commitments.

Posted by: c at April 27, 2004 at 10:03 AM

The least Latham could do is wait untill a few hundred of us are murdered by islamic fanatics-oops! That already happened.

I think what the Australian people are really crying out for is a leader who will quell our thirst for revenge by running away and pleading for mercy from people we consider lower than child-molesters. And if that pisses on our national honor and our Anzac tradition? Hey, it's not like we care about those things.

Good thinking, Latham, you woke up one morning and thought you were in Spain, a country with a flag that actually has a yellow stripe up it's middle. You're on a winner there, buddy!

Posted by: Amos at April 27, 2004 at 10:06 AM

Tim's crusdade to ensure accurate reporting of Australia in the US press obviously does not extend to pointing out to the WSJ that Australia does not have 2,000 troops in Iraq. Altogether, around 850 personnel are currently stationed in the Gulf, of which only about 300 are actually stationed on Iraqi soil.

Posted by: Mork at April 27, 2004 at 10:16 AM

Hi.

Mork is right on the numbers: well spotted!

Toryhere is right on the parties. Steve, you can take that as the best quick summary you'll get.

And Amos is dead right on the alternative Latham is offering us: a new Australia with our own yellow streak.

Posted by: David Blue at April 27, 2004 at 10:35 AM

Mork, sorry, you are still banned. You will have to continue bothering others with your tedious pedantry.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 27, 2004 at 10:40 AM

Take the medicine because it makes you strong, Andrea.

Mork is right that Tim frequently points out minor factual errors made by lefty dorks, though they make them in 'reputable' print rather than a personal blog, so I guess it's not really the same. Uh-oh, now I'm banned t-


Posted by: Amos at April 27, 2004 at 11:29 AM

Amos, I left Mork's post up because a) someone had already replied to it, and b) we can benefit from whatever useful if pointless fact Mork may have dredged up without the comment thread devolving into yet another Mork-gets-attention fest, as they always do when Mork is around. That is why I banned him and will continue to ban him, though nothing is stopping you and he from starting up an email discussion on your own.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 27, 2004 at 12:48 PM

I think I'll decline this opportunity to get into a lengthy correspondence with mork.

Posted by: Amos at April 27, 2004 at 01:09 PM

Your loss is -- uh -- your gain!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 27, 2004 at 01:36 PM

Hey Latham, don't feel too bad... when BillyBob Clinton was over there in that London place some months ago, spoutin' out 'bout how he'd knew'd Blair had this here medical problem cuz Tony done told him 'bout it... then Downing St. went: "Umm, don't know how Mr. Clinton could've known about this before the PM's doctor did.."

Do Lefties everywhere read from the same damned playbook, without checking the net for updates? Jeebus... if you're gonna puff yerself up, the least you could do is watch yer arse, eh?

Posted by: geezer at April 27, 2004 at 01:53 PM

Buggar - Labor tries to arrange a Blair visit and I missed the ABC report on this lunacy.
Of course it could be that the ABC did NOT report on this - NAH! perish the thought as this kind of thinking could lead to claims of ABC BIAS and we know this aint true 'cos David (I'll screw Alan Jones if it is the last thing I do!) Marr told me so.

Posted by: lawrie at April 27, 2004 at 03:27 PM

Hi.

Andrea Harris said: "Amos, I left Mork's post up because a) someone had already replied to it, and b) we can benefit from whatever useful if pointless fact Mork may have dredged up without the comment thread devolving into yet another Mork-gets-attention fest, as they always do when Mork is around. That is why I banned him and will continue to ban him ..."

In this case I thought it was worth drawing attention to a fact well spotted, but in general I'm all for squelching trolls. Ban away, and thank you for it.

Posted by: David Blue at April 27, 2004 at 06:29 PM

(scribbles "tedious pedantry" in stylebook...)

Posted by: mojo at April 28, 2004 at 06:56 AM

In the U.S. the opposition candidate meets with foreign leaders at dining establishments where they root him on to victory.

Fair warning: the term 'root' has somewhat different connotations in aussieland. Expect to get some amused looks from the locals if you use it down there.

Posted by: rosignol at April 28, 2004 at 11:09 AM