Holiday Reading – Latham Diaries

Right – this post is not about history or technology, but blogs live and die on frequency of content, so here goes. School holidays are for me like hibernation is for bears…escape the world and growl at anyone who pokes me. My dear grandparents gave me some cash to splash with and I went and bought the following books to feast on:

  • A Short History of Australia (Manning Clark)
  • Convict Society & Its Enemies (John Hirst)
  • The Latham Diaries (Mark Latham)
  • Men & War (Niall Brennan)
  • Dorothy Day – A Radical Devotion (Robert Coles)
  • Buckley’s Hope (Craig Robertson)


I read The Latham Diaries in a few days – just riveting. Don’t know how much is true, but judging by the bridges burnt and enemies made, I reckon he’s telling the truth in the main. What struck me was the regularity with which he bemoans his existence as a parliamentarian; I kept wanting to say, “Mark, get out! Get a grip! Spend all that time with your family like you keep saying!” He really seemed to be an iconoclast, at least in the public eye, but I reckon he was more an octagonal peg in a square hole. So many ideas, so much passion…all crashing on the impassive beach of Labor factionalism and public indifference. Also interesting was the insight into factional dealing – I knew that it happened, but not how or to what lengths politicians go to secure their position. So much energy is expended trying to gain or conserve power that it’s a wonder any decent policy gets made. Oh, right… I think we’ll be seeing a spate of political diaries published in the near future – not memoirs, but day to day accounts of significant events and reflections on same. The Latham Diaries have a raw immediacy that memoirs just can’t match. At the same time, they are also another form of voyeurism – the public looking at blow-by-blow accounts of democracy (weak and insipid, but still). However, representative democracy should be voyeuristic – keeping an eye on the bastards. More than that, as Latham constantly rails, it should be participatory: getting off the couch, turning off Australian Idol and living life.


About Dave Fagg

I'm a dad, husband, and resident of a regional town in Bendigo. I earn a crust through freelance writing, and youth work. I am also studying sociology. When I'm not working I love reading on the couch, playing soccer with my son, and musing.
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2 Responses to Holiday Reading – Latham Diaries

  1. Darrell Boschert says:

    I have read quit a few reviews of this book and I would have to say this is the most positive I have read. This says more about the reviewer, who seems to be able to see good in all people, than Latham himself who sees himself as a victim. Was he really a victim of the factionalism or an ego maniac out of control?

  2. davefagg says:

    Definitely Latham has a huge ego, but then so does everyone in politics. I think Latham’s flaw was to fail to squeeze his ego into the parliament-shaped hole.

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