Tim Blair


New Criterion



Sunday, October 10, 2004

Ladies and gentlemen, we were led into this election shock result by the lies our leaders told.

I mean our opinion leaders.

The results fell within the polls' margin or error, but most of our lives happens within that space.

Everyone knew who should have been making last night's victory speech - Mark Latham.

"Latham within striking distance" headlined The Australian yesterday morning.

Why shouldn't they be optimistic. Since the Latham launch and 'Medicare Gold' the commentators have been pushing the line that Latham stood for good, if expensive, policy and the Coalition for electoral bribes. Christopher Pearson reminded us in yesterday's Australian of these choice expressions of opinion leader lunacy:
Mark Latham is riding on a wave of confidence after his copybook launch. Sensing a vulnerability in John Howard, Latham is the lion looking for the kill. (Michelle Grattan)

One simple politically devastating policy idea. It's a while since we've seen one in an increasingly noisy political world. (Laura Tingle)

Thanks to the boldness and vision of Labor's youthful leader, Mark Latham, voters will confront stark choices in policy and philosophy when they enter the polling booth on October 9. (Australian Financial Review leader)
Pearson tells us that at Latham's Press Club appearance last Wednesday not one of the opinion leaders present asked for an explanation of how Medicare Gold would overcome its obvious absurdities. Despite that, Medicare Gold was already falling apart one week after its launch. I thought it would outlast the election campaign, but I was wrong.

It was not the criticism of the economically undeluded that caused Medicare Gold to turn to electoral dross. It was the failure of Mark Latham to win policy credibility with the Australian public. It was dead at birth.

Not according to Henny Herald's Senior Political Columnist, Alan Ramsey.
And Latham? I think he can get there. At the very least Labor will eat into the Government's majority. People are sick and tired of Howard, and many of us detest him for his duplicity, his divisiveness and his gross mendacity. It's simply a question of whether the undecideds in the marginals think Latham is ready.

In fact, as most of you know, Howard's party gained primary votes, and Latham Labor polled worse than Beazley in 2001, without the assistance of Tampa and 9/11.

Latham lost votes not only in most marginals, but in the heartland of the mainstream left, Victoria's safe Labor seats.

A mystery, if you had been following most of our commentators.

When will our opinion leaders come clean? When will they admit they lied to us, relied on sexed-up intelligence on Latham's programme, because they had already made up their minds in favour of launching war on John Howard?

Let's have some Truth in our Media!


It seems unlikely.

Their loss was due to a 'scare' campaign, and so their policies were not a problem.

Mark Latham had established during the campaign that he was Prime Ministerial material. He didn't froth at the mouth at any point. Therefore he's not the problem.

Labor's policies were wilfully misunderstood by malicious interests, and the people were confused. So the policies are not the problem.

What is the problem then?

Must be the lying, conniving, big-spending, manipulative, cynical conservatives. And the electors who are too stupid to see it.

Auntie shares the wilful blindness. On this morning's Insiders we had ten minutes of the certifiable John Valder venting. It was all Labor's fault for failing him in his campaign to unseat the Prime Minister in Bennelong while supporting the re-election of his government.

There'll be lots more of this self-delusion from the Howard-haters.

Nine more years! Nine more years!