The elite drool from every orifice

Doug Cameron, the colourful national secretary of the AMWU, at the ALP national conference this morning (via Crikey):

The elite drool from every orifice at the thought of a free trade deal with the US. The Premiers are even worse. I reckon there’s some Pavlovian science going on here.

It’s one of the better lines from Labor’s annual talkfest/scragfight. Julia Gillard was very much in her element waving about a leaked memo sent by the government to the pointy heads at Medicare state offices, warning that if the national health system’s 20th birthday is to be celebrated with a cake, government MPs must not be photographed sticking the knife in:

What this email is telling us, as clearly as any other action by the Howard Government, is Australians know when a conservative politician, when John Howard or Tony Abbott get anywhere near Medicare and they’ve got a knife in their hand, they’ve only got one purpose and that is to destroy Medicare by chopping it up. (ABC News)

I love the way that Latham is pushing his true believer, boy-from-the-suburbs credentials. He calls the coalition “the Tories”. I don’t recall a Labor leader using that phrase in public before, although in the party rank and file it’s a word with wide currency. And this except from Latham’s speech to the conference yesterday is genius:

It’s true, delegates. I haven’t been to as many international summits as Mr Howard. And I haven’t stayed in that many posh hotels. But I’ll tell you one thing: your travel budget doesn’t teach you how to stand up for Australia. Your love of this country does.

It’s in your heart, not your itinerary.

And delegates, I can assure you: you will never hear me call Australia a deputy sheriff. I know who we are – strong, proud and independent. We’re nobody’s deputy.


I haven’t got it in me to bite my tongue and stay silent if Australia’s interests are on the line. I couldn’t on Iraq. I haven’t on the Free Trade Agreement. I won’t when it matters. I will always stand up for Australia.

And delegates I give you this pledge: a Labor government will never send young Australians to war in search of weapons that don’t exist, for a purpose that’s not true. (Full transcript)

Regular readers of this page will know that, politically, I sit somewhere to the left of Josef Stalin, so a right-winger like Latham is unlikely to find a place in my cold and stony heart, but I like the man’s style and, more importantly, it’s a relief to see that we have a political landscape with two sides again.

Game on.

Meanwhile, the man who for too long has had the whole playing field to his diminuitive self, John Howard is looking more and more scared by the ascendant Latham:

In his speech yesterday he was sloppy, sloppy; in other words, he doesn’t tell it as it is … This man, when you go below the glib generalisations, hasn’t got a grip on some of the basic facts. (The Age)

The PM is “rattled”, according to Bob McMullan. Certainly, he’s behaving like he’s painted himself into a corner, and you know when Howard is running scared there must be good reasons for it. I’ll be the first to say that it’s delicious to watch.

Howard knows he’s vulnerable over the war, so much so that he reckons the Hutton Inquiry report (which I thought was about the BBC and the British government) means that his critics owe him an apology.

Let me say that again. John Howard wants you to say “sorry”:

Those who have accused us of taking Australia to war on a lie owe me as much an apology as those who made equal accusations against Tony Blair owe him an apology. (The Australian)

The irony is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Just make sure you do so out the back, in case the TV cameras catch you.

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