Confessions of a Faceless Man (2010) by Paul Howes is an odd but interesting book. The book is largely an account of the 2010 Australian Federal election and is based on Howes’ diary. Howes is very likely to wind up in an Australian government in future so the book is well worth perusing for a taste of the future.
The book starts off with Howes giving his account of the removal of Kevin Rudd. Here Howes goes into detail about what he thinks of Rudd and how he managed his government. It is not complimentary.
Once on the campaign trail Howes describes the day-to-day running of the campaign and his opinions of what went on. Howes’ opinions on most of the politicians are pretty mundane. He cannot stand Tony Abbott and most of the current senior members of the Coalition. His utter contempt for Mark Latham is powerfully expressed. It is disturbing that an Australian Labor Party (ALP) account describes two of the past four ALP leaders as terrible.
There are some surprises in the book. Howes is a friend of Peter van Onselen, he respects Peter Costello, he is pro gay marriage and he is surprisingly skeptical about the National Broadband Network (NBN).
More predictably he is keen on action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and thinks that the ALP’s stance on Asylum Seekers is unwise. Howes sincerely believes that the ALP is economically wise.
Howes doesn’t mention falling Union membership across the workforce and instead only mentions how the numbers of his union have gone up in some years. He mentions the bizaare factionalism of the ALP on a number of occasions.
The book is fun in the way it describes mistakes made in the campaign. Howes mainly talks about Liberal Party mistakes but some time is given to the farcical ‘real Julia’ campaign and other ALP mistakes.
The book does some credit to Howes, he comes across as a sincere person who truly believes in his cause. Howes has a lack of awareness of what the books other messages are. The fact that a major backer of a political party thinks that the last ALP Prime Minister was dreadful and that before that they had elected a madman is remarkable. If ALP stalwarts think half their leaders are hopeless what are others meant to think?