Pauline Hanson And Mark Latham Are The Dream Team We Don't Deserve
It’s the great political conundrum of our age: how do we shake things up?
How do we break the stranglehold of the major parties, who feign difference to maintain the illusion of choice, but in reality are both as in thrall to powerful vested interests as each other? How do we bring a real contest of ideas back to our political milieu?
The answer was delivered to us this week in the form of five simple words: Mark Latham Joins One Nation. Suddenly, the horizon assumed a very different hue and the future fractured into a brilliant kaleidoscope of possibilities, as we breathed anew the fresh air of promise.
Mark Latham and Pauline Hanson are a marriage made in heaven, though I must stress that I mean this in a purely figurative sense, as a literal interpretation of the phrase is enough to chill me to the bone at the contemplation of horrors as yet undreamt of by Man.
No, what I mean is that politically the fusion of these two stars will create a hyper-sun to outshine the brightest of Labor or Liberal hacks.
Think about it: Hanson’s knack for understanding the average Australian, matched with Latham’s talent for combative invective. Hanson’s skill at self-promotion combined with Latham’s record of innovative policy development. Hanson’s eloquence mingled with Latham’s innate sense of style.
They complement each other so beautifully it’s amazing they never got together before. Of course it would’ve been difficult back in the days when Latham was Leader of the Opposition and Hanson was dancing with assorted stars, but since then they’ve both had loads of free time. Hard to believe in all that time neither one ever bethought themselves, “Hmm…time to hook up with my spiritual twin”.
You can tell the political establishment is already running scared. Just look at the reaction to the sensational bit of six-dimensional chess that the new besties pulled off at Studio Ten.
As the hosts of the show waited for Hanson and Latham to show up and be interviewed, the One Nationeers cunningly split up, with only the flame-haired warrior princess of the Senate actually sitting down in the studio, next to an empty chair that would have contained Latham if the stuffed network shirts had their way. But have their way they most definitely did not.
Upon the revelation that Latham was not present, the media flew into an uproar, with confusion and disorientation the likes of which had not been seen since Country defeated City by means of Daryl Haberecht’s legendary “up the jumper” ploy in the 1975 fixture. And just as Greg Cornelsen stuffed the ball up his jumper and surged toward the City line, One Nation had stuck Latham up its jumper as it surged inexorably toward electoral triumph. With Studio 10, the press gallery, and social media aflame, the party cold sit back smugly and gloat at the free publicity they had attained.
Not that it was all about publicity. No, this was a message. One Nation’s split-the-couple play was put into practice to let the world know: we’re here, we’re serious, and we’re unpredictable. From now on the major parties are on notice that there is a new third force in Australian politics, and it doesn’t play by your so-called rules.
Invite two One Nation leaders onto a morning TV show? Maybe only one will show up. Maybe none will show up. Maybe five will show up. You can’t tell, because One Nation is like the wind, like smoke, like a shadow: it’s here, then it’s gone, then it’s seeping through your window at night to whisper inspirational anti-immigration polemics in your sleeping ear. Before you know what’s going on, the interview is over and all the cake is gone from the studio kitchen.
That’s what Latham brings to the table of course, besides a sort of bracing, un-laundered masculinity: unpredictability. Anyone who’s followed his career knows you never know what the man will do next. Just when you think he’s going to sit on a chair, he falls off it. Just when you think he’s going to win an election, he doesn’t. The only pattern he follows is that of confounding expectations.
It’s a perfect fit for Pauline Hanson, whose policy agenda of strong borders, reinvigorated patriotism, and blank glassy stares has already struck a chord with viewers, but whose party needed a supercharging to take it to the next level. Latham is the man who can do that supercharging, because he knows how to win elections, having watched John Howard quite closely in 2004. Much like American basketball’s “Dream Team” of 1992, which gathered the nation’s greatest players in one place for the first time ever, One Nation has managed the coup of bringing Australia’s two greatest populist iconoclasts together. And just like the Barcelona Olympics, the result will be golden.
The best thing about the new One Nation team is the way each person’s strengths compensate for the other’s weaknesses. For example, Latham’s progress in the far-right sphere may have been hamstrung if he went it alone, because of his past in the Labor movement. But now he has allied with Hanson, who has a lifelong record of being too right-wing for the Liberals, that doubt is removed.
Jordan , Barkley, Bird, Drexler, Ewing, Johnson and Malone have nothing on this dynamic duo. (Image: AAP)
And then there’s the matter of networking. Latham brings to One Nation his wealth of contacts at Sky News and Country Road stores, to add to Hanson’s existing database of Sonia Kruger’s phone number. There’s a real power base being built there.
But in the end it’s policy that counts, and we can depend on One Nation, its new superstar duo at the helm, turning the ship of state around with its suite of proposals, which range from banning the burqa to banning same-sex marriage to banning female journalists to banning Africa.
Want to stop them? Well you’ll have to come up with something pretty impressive, because look what’s coming down those tracks: a stammering, rambling, freedom-loving train that will not be derailed by business-as-usual politics although it might be by spotting something shiny in the distance. Get on board, or get out of the way.