Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, November 29, 2004
There are so many good signs of the terminal state of Latham Labor that the man's own attempts at self-destruction seem superfluous. Welcome, nonetheless.

As Latham holds Stephen Conroy in a head-lock while the latter expresses 'regret' over the current state of affairs you can't fail to notice that the strangled tone of Conroy's voice results from the fact that his gritted teeth are fastened on a part of Latham's anatomy, and are not letting go.

Post today's Caucus meeting, absolutely nothing has changed; not Latham's policy incompetence or his immature personality, not his enemies' determination and not the pathetic bad judgement of that fifty percent of Caucus that elected Latham in the first place.

It could hardly get better, but it does. For a start, Laurie Ferguson is backing Latham. This must be the biggest boost for Labor's prospects since Ferguson foreshadowed higher taxes in the course of the election campaign.

Even better is this analysis of the composition of the Family First vote:
The results are surprising – and worrying for the ALP. Worrying, because they suggest the conventional understanding of Family First – that it is a party whose vote overwhelmingly comes from evangelical Christians – is fundamentally wrong.

In terms of income, Family First voters dominated the lower two-thirds of the income range, having taken over the middle third formerly dominated by Labor in the pre-Howard era.

On the basis of the modelling, Black reaches this conclusion about the make-up of the Family First vote: "The first group was what you would have expected from a party founded by religious activists; middle income, professional, evangelical – and Liberal. But the second group, equal in size, was rusted on Labor voters – agnostic, blue-collar, lower income, single parents."

Black theorises that these were the voters who were the bottom-end losers in Labor's controversial tax and family policy. They couldn't bring themselves to vote for John Howard. But they weren't going to reward Latham, so they parked their vote with Family First.
That means that the mugs Latham was going to skin to fund his Whitlamite schemes could see him coming, and ran the other way before their arms were broken. It's take more than 'keeping the principles and polishing the details' to get these people back.

Best of all is the news that Max Gillies is touring another political comedy from the pen of Australia-hating Guy Rundle.

Rundle did more to convince the left that John Howard was a Sandy Stone figure, lost in the past, risible and pathetic, than Auntie, the Age and the Henny Herald combined. It proved an incalculable advantage to the Liberals.

The communard left is already whipping up fear, loathing and ridicule against the lone Family First senator who doesn't even take office until next July. They'll be so busy looking out for evangelical conspiracies they won't even see the trucks coming from behind to run them over.

What's the bet that the talents of Rundle and Gillies will add conviction to the delusions? Despite the fact that Rundle shares with that Christian fanatic George W Bush a hatred of stem cells, the new show is called the Big Con. Guess who's being conned.

It's all too easy. I'm starting to worry.