Labor’s woes will not end with this man
For a blubbering, lonely, unlucky-in-love, toxic politician with a ‘hit-me’ sign on his back, SA Police Minister and former Treasurer Kevin Foley sure has risen in my estimations.
I can’t believe he’s still standing. I can’t believe he hasn’t packed his bags (no, not just for his latest overseas jaunt) and signed a lucrative deal for his own guts-spilling talkback radio show.
I can’t believe he only slightly teared up at his press conference last Monday. I’d have been pulling my hair out, frothing at the mouth and howling with sheer exasperation. Not least because of the double standards that have applied to him and Premier Mike Rann in the past 18 months.
Was Kevin Foley whacked across the face with a rolled up magazine by the angry husband of an alleged ex-lover? No, he was king hit by a stranger as he wandered in search of an inner-city cab in the wee hours of a Sunday morning.
Was Kevin Foley forced to refute allegations of an affair with a married parliamentary barmaid, after she appeared on Channel 7’s Sunday program with a raft of salacious claims? No, he admitted to depression after a magazine article painted him (correctly) as a sad and lonesome man.
Did Kevin Foley go missing in action for the best part of a year after promising to reconnect with voters on election night March 2010 (following the narrowest of victories that some commentators attribute to the efforts of the then Treasurer)?
No, he prepared and later took a pounding for a State budget that appeased ratings agencies but outraged unions and affected communities. Yes, he was Treasurer, but budgets are approved by every member of Cabinet and Mr Rann as leader must take ultimate responsibility.
Despite all of this, the faceless “off-the-record” squealers within the State ALP would have us believe that Kevin Foley is the poison in the pudding of the Labor brand.
And so, when the poor bugger is out with a lady friend at a reasonable hour on a Saturday night, and roughed up in the toilets of the Royale Lounge in Gouger Street, few people express much sympathy. In fact, many start baying for blood.
If a group of rich twats drinking $170 shots of cognac slammed you up against the dunny wall of a wine bar, would you walk into work on Monday and resign? I don’t think so.
Having said all that, I did Google ‘karma’ and ‘Foley’ when I heard the news last week. (There’s a book editor called Karma Foley in the US and the town of Foley in Alabama has the Karma Tattoo parlour.)
Live by the sword, die by the sword. Kevin Foley made his mark in politics by being louder, ruder and more pig-headed than his opponents. He freely admits to a sharp tongue and pugnacious personality (traits that have served Mr Rann very nicely these past years – with a willing bully-boy around, one need never get one’s own hands dirty.)
And Mr Foley certainly hasn’t helped himself by feeding the story with a slew of radio appearances to repeatedly ruminate over the sordid details of his latest scuffle.
But to my mind, both Labor and the Liberals are much too willing for the focus to fall on Foley: Labor seemingly because it deflects the headlines from mounting community anger on multiple fronts (and Mr Rann’s own political future); and the Liberals because it delays the need for fresh policies and positive action on their part (Note to Ms Redmond: that line wore thin a while back).
The Advertiser’s state editor Greg Kelton wrote on Wednesday that it was time for Mr Foley to go, partly because the pressure appeared to be putting his health at risk. But the pressure wouldn’t be there if his own colleagues didn’t continuously comment off the record about his toxic touch, and journalists didn’t say it was time to go.
He might be the black sheep of the family, but Labor’s brand woes do not begin and end with Kevin Foley. And being attacked is no cause for losing your job.
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