Mark Latham, former Aussie Labour Party leader who resigned a few months back as a result of ill-health has just published a tell-all book about Aussie politics, especially on his own party.
However, he has something on the other side of the political fence too. He revealed why at one stage during the election campaign he was seen to be crowding the PM aggressively during a courtesy handshake. That manoeuvre was widely criticized by political observers.
Latham has a reputation of being rough physically, giving it out as much as he received. Latham once chased after a taxi driver who seized his briefcase after he refused to pay the exorbitant charge. In a rugby tackle to stop the cab driver, Latham broke the poor bloke’s arm. He also called George Bush some best-not-recalled names.
According to Latham, John Howard had the habit of always trying to crush the opponent’s hand during a handshake. Howard’s tactic would include vigorously shaking the handshake with the whole arm rather than just with the wrist.
Mark Latham said:
"It's a small man's thing, trying to show you can match the big guy at something. I wasn't too worried about it, thought it was funny, until the last Sunday of the campaign at the St George Leagues Club lunch, when Howard did the same thing to Janine.”
Janine is Latham’s wife. She complained to Latham after Howard shook her hand:
"That man just tried to break my hand. It really hurt”.
That was too much for Latham to tolerate, so he gave it back to Howard. He also crowded Howard so that the PM couldn’t do his arm shaking bit again.
Latham couldn’t resist his usual stinging language and said of Howard:
"The weak animal looked startled. It's ironic, however: I'm supposed to be the intimidating one in politics, but I have never tried to break a woman's hand. How does Howard get away with it?"