I don’t want to hyperbolise, but the Federal ALP is in worse shape than an obese Americans who has been wedged inside their trailer home for the past 10 years. Forget winning the next election, Labor will be lucky return to government before Wyatt Roy retires.
They’ve tried every trick in Graham Richardson’s little black book. They focussed-group their policies to the Nth degree. They pinched John Howard’s immigration policy. The even held there noses long enough for Peter Slipper to get his leg over in the Speaker’s Chair.
Bereft of contemporary ideas, the ALP’s faceless men may be forced to that continuing source of inspiration for political romantics, the legend of King Arthur.
Americans have been attracted to the idea of Camelot since the 1960s, even though their king in question was a serial philanderer who wanted to assassinate Fidel Castro with an exploding cigar.
Unlike our Pacific neighbours, Australian have never been seduced by this myth. Our most famous Arthur was Tunstall, who didn’t have time to pull a sword from a stone because he was to busy removing his foot from his mouth. The nearest the Kights of the Round Table came to penetrating mainstream consciousness was when Channel 10 used the Hunters and Collectors song Holy Grail as the theme tune for its AFL coverage.
Despite this, both the ALP and the Liberal Party seem bewitched by the notion of the Once and Future King.
According to the legend, King Arthur is not dead but simply sleeps on the Isle of Avalon ready to return when his country needs him most.
The idea of a dead man coming to the aid of his party is what helped John Howard survive his triple bypass. I suspect it is also what helps Malcolm Turnbull sleep at night, though he probably sees himself more as Napoleon returning from exile to the adulation of the republic.
The romantics would have us believe that in a dark corner of ALP headquarters, next to a faded It’s Time T-shirt and the long since extinguished light on the hill, is a glass case marked “Break in case of emergency”. The sound of the tinkling glass will resurrect a former leader to guide true believers to a glorious victory and usher forth a carbon emissions trading scheme that will last, if not a thousand years, then at least until the polls improve.
But who is this saviour? Well, it’s definitely not Kevin Rudd. Even if Julia Gillard’s approval was to slip below that of Bashar al-Assad’s, there is a hardcore of parliamentarians who would never serve under Rudd again. The situation would quickly develop into a civil war between Redheads and Kevaliers, making this particular Restoration period unlikely.
And if Rudd is out then Mark Latham was never in to begin with. Should he resemble any of the Knights of the Round Table it would be John Cleese’s crazed Lancelot in Monthy Python’s Holy Grail, particularly the scene where he tries to headbutt a castle.
Simon Crean reminds me of the media career of Maxine McKew. During her time with the ABC McKew was a fine Lateline host and even fronted the 7.30 Report in summer time but once Kerry O’Brien returned from holidays it was back to the late shift. Similarly, Crean is a perfectly capable deputy while the PM is overseas wearing ethnic costumes at APEC but he isn’t ready for prime time.
That leaves only one possible candidate. He was defeated twice by the Black Knight John Howard and would relish the chance to take revenge on his Mad Monk successor . He is a Perth boy, which is a boon because West Australians are more likely to vote for daylight savings than the ALP. And like Arthur on Avalon, he waits across the water ready for the call.
Yes Mr Beazley, your throne awaits. Return, our Once and Future Kim.