Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, October 18, 2004
The odds on Latham's leadership lasting the distance to the next election have lengthened considerably.

There is a danger that the Opposition leader's back bench will be stronger than his front bench. Bob McMullan has now joined Kim Beazley and Craig Emerson after refusing a humiliating demotion.

McMullan's problem was supporting Beazley in the last leadership ballot. Emerson's sin was not to support Beazley when the whip went out from factional capo Bill Ludwig. Now young Joe Ludwig is in Parliament and available to exact the price of disobedience.

There is little chance that Latham will be able to construct a front bench to his own standards that is not also very vulnerable to sniping from the frustrated old guard. This is a recipe for instability.

It's all very unfortunate.