- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2005

No good words

from Australian

CANBERRA, Australia — Sick, dysfunctional, irreparably broken and led by a man unfit to clean toilets — this is Australia’s main opposition Labor Party today, according to Labor’s former leader, who is savaging his old comrades.

In a vitriolic new book, Mark Latham says Labor had a corrosive, rotten and debilitating culture run by factional hacks and gossiping, plotting and disloyal politicians.

Mr. Latham led the center-left party to defeat at the 2004 national elections and quit politics in January after suffering a second life-threatening attack of pancreatitis and complaining that he was sick of political betrayal.

Mr. Latham’s attacks attracted blanket press coverage in Australia and were blamed for swings against Labor in three weekend by-elections in New South Wales, the nation’s most populous state.

Labor and its new leader, Kim Beazley, have struggled to make inroads against conservative Prime Minister John Howard, who in March will notch up 10 years in power.

Mr. Latham’s attacks were so savage that Mr. Howard defended his political opponents earlier this week and said Labor was suffering the consequences of electing Mr. Latham as leader in December 2003.

“I think the Labor Party made a terrible mistake choosing him; they knew what a temperamental person he was, they knew he was a person who used personal vitriol. It’s now fully on display, and they are the target of it,” Mr. Howard told Australian radio.

Known for often using crude language during his 11 years in parliament, he once described President Bush as “dangerous and incompetent.”

In his book, Mr. Latham attacks the media as “animals” and “perverts,” but makes even more blunt assessments of his former colleagues and Mr. Beazley, whom he accuses of a long-running campaign to undermine him within the party.

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