Sunday morning, and for some strange reason I always awake at 6:30am. No work today, enthusiasm has gone away – to paraphrase Herman – so I roll over, switch on Radio National & doze off again to the somnolent tones of Jonathan Green hosting Sunday Extra.
I surfaced from the doze in time to hear about Jonathan’s tête-à-tête with one-time Labor Party leader and Prime Ministerial aspirant, Mark Latham at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. You can listen to the program here, dear reader. It’s VERY revealing in multiple ways. As Jonathan stated, Latham clearly has something to say, and perhaps even add to the overall theatre of Australian political social democracy, but is his bovver boy abuse of those who ruffle his finely preened feathers the right way to go about his elucidation?
As those of us who pay attention to such matters will know, Latham is an overtly glass man who is prone to shattering under pressure. Post the 2004 general election, Latham went to pieces quite publically, offering from afar innumerable rationales for his disintegration, from personal illness to concern for his family and a desire to support his wife’s legal career at the cost of whatever was left of his own political interests. All undoubtedly have a basis in fact, but at the base of all is surely an unstable self-awareness, even self-belief.
Latham lashes out at a moment’s notice, and seemingly on a whim. Does he genuinely have personal issues with the “privileged rich girls” in the Australian commentariate? Is his behaviour truly misogynistic? Is he, like me, disdainful of the ultra feminist activist cadre in the very same commentariate? The difference between Latham and me on that subject is stark. I don’t abuse from a deliberately anonymous Twitter account and I certainly don’t go out of my way to create angst through meaningless personal diatribe for the sake of filling a tiny space in the ether. Have a look at the supposedly genuine @realmarklatham account. You’ll see it has 227 posts and opened 20 December 2014. No avatar, just the default ‘egg’. The activity is sporadic at best, but explodes remarkably 30 July 2015 after a hiatus since 26 January 2015. 25 tweets that appear to centre on the Adam Goodes booing affair, and not in any sort of intellectual manner. When other’s begin to engage him, Latham seems to switch to attack dog mode and starts shooting from the hip in any direction that wants to challenge him. If, of course, this account really is Mark Latham. Mark Di Stefano of Buzzfeed made it absolutely clear on Sunday Extra, that he believed so, which is why Buzzfeed chose to unmask the troll account.
After listening this morning, and doing some reading on the matter as a follow-up, I find myself wondering about the mental stability of Latham. He gets an invite to speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival. He accepts in the full realisation that his ‘departure’ from the Australian Financial Review columnist gig he had, AND the Twitter controversy would be broached. He makes little or no effort to address questions put, abuses the host/interviewer Jonathan Green, curses belligerently and insultingly at anyone from the audience who deigns to question his motives, and then rationalises his behaviour by claiming he is now free to be unfiltered, just as he is in Sydney’s western suburbs, at the pub with mates & at sporting events. Have a look at this from Mammamia. Really concerning and bizarre behaviour from someone who purports to want to continue being a public figure in Australian society. Michael Stutchbury – editor of the Fin Review – would appear to agree.
“Many Financial Review readers are pleased to see Latham gone, but others from across the political spectrum say they’ll miss his uncompromising and often humorous western Sydney take on inner-urban elites, left-wing feminists and the loony right-wing fringe,” he wrote, before signing off: “phew”.
Well, Mark Latham, your latent mental issues aside, all you’re succeeding in proving beyond any doubt is the general opinion of non-Western Sydneyites of the social attitudes of those who inhabit those same western suburbs.