Matt Smith's End of the Spectrum

Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.

Goodbye naughty chair, it's time for the Latham

First published in The Punch on 25th August, 2010

It took a brave (and bitter) kind of former politician to stand in front of the camera on 60 minutes, and tell the country to turn in a blank vote out of protest come election day. But that’s what happened.

In an amazing example of the pot calling the kettle black, Mark Latham declared neither party major worthy of leading Australia, and encouraged all voters to follow his lead and send them a clear message.

There’s a chance that even Mark Latham was surprised that people actually listened to him.

In what has been a startling event, ‘informal voting’ has reached a record high this election.

The practice of turning in a blank ballot card accounted for almost 6% (and counting) of all votes cast this election – probably more than enough to make sure a hung parliament never occurred, and a rise of 1.69% from the previous election in 2007.

While not all of these can be attributed to Mark Latham, it’s fair to say that if he hadn’t appeared on Channel 9, dressed up as a reporter and making that recommendation, then it wouldn’t have occurred to many voters as an option.

If only Mark Latham had this kind of public sway during the 2004 election campaign. If ‘informal voting’ was ‘a vote for Mark Latham’, then 618,435 votes (the informal vote count as of Sunday) would have fallen in his favour in 2010. If we put it in perspective and look at the party totals, he would have won fifth place, behind Labor (4,008,914), Liberal (3,156,557), Greens (1,187,788), and LNP (937,188).

If we limit it to the last seat he held as MP, which was for Werriwa in NSW, then 9.5% of the electorate would have cast the ‘Latham vote’ – an astounding amount in his favour considering he never announced his candidacy.

The Greens were quick to point out that that their votes equate to 12 seats in the House of Representatives, just based on number. While this might sound great to some people, by the same token you’d need to put up with six Mark Lathams.

Why shouldn’t a ‘vote for protest’ equate as a ‘vote for Latham’? Both actions would equally teach the current government and opposition parties a lesson. Both would bring a strange, new system of government to Australia, the likes of which we could have never imagined.

If the Australian public decide they aren’t going to vote properly in the future, they’ll get the Latham. Insinuate the election campaign is boring and tedious, unleash the Latham. If the situation gets anywhere near a hung parliament again, then it’s gone way past the naughty chair, and time to bring out the Latham.

While this might be viewed as a bit extreme (and could potentially violate the Geneva Convention), it can be looked at this way: wouldn’t Latham be providing the exact service he is being asked for? Where would you rather have him, in the spotlight, or at home, working up another edition of his quotation book A conga line of suckholes?

So now, it’s time to be honest. Who out there amongst us voted for Latham?

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This entry was posted on August 31, 2010 by in politics and tagged , , , , , .
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