Tim Blair


New Criterion



Thursday, September 26, 2002

Today's repeat of last Saturday's Book talk gives us a long conversation with Don Watson about his very long book on Paul Keating's premiership which must have seemed to last a very long time indeed for Watson, the Bankstown bovver-boy's utterance-crafter.

The 750-page cat-drowner of a tome, Confessions of a bleeding heart, a portrait of Paul Keating, PM, won a prize from - are you ahead of me on this? - the Age.

I was given my copy of course, by a friend with a sardonic sense of humour.

Watson is blessed with a persuasive manner, even when he's talking utter piffle. He remains puzzled about what went wrong, and why "the times suit John Howard".

It may be because Howard goes out and pretends to like the electors, wears hats and stuff, shakes hands. What a scheming little prick! El Supremo was too busy in his office making real big policies, like how to get to the shops without being whacked with cricket bats.

"Who else on either side of politics has such a capacity to inspire, or make you laugh as much" cries Watson.

Try Mal Colston, then work through the list alphabetically Don.

Ah well, it's all over now. Gone is the nascent Europeanness of the Australian polity, with its cozy welfare at the price of a $.65 in the dollar tax rate and its optional work. And of course the compassion of it all. Instead Australia is being driven in dumb resentment down the chute to a US-style political culture.

Jesus we need that 11% unemployment.

Watson hasn't noticed that part of Europe called Britain.

He doesn't recognise the implications for us of Asia, Australia's economic out-performance, the Argentinian alternative, the growing satisfaction Australians find in their workplaces.

Watson just can't see most of what's happening in the world. He is, after all, a True Believer.

Pity the ALP.