We who were there, still weep over what we've lost.
Like an old black-and-white movie they're back -- the greying yet fiery icons of a spirit now fading. Turning on the radio or going online became a hazard this week with 82-year-old Bob Hawke singing Solidarity Forever, former union chief Bill Kelty invoking "romantic warriors" as his theme, and Paul Keating spreading love and compassion throughout the great trade union dinner.The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.The moral of the week is that it's best to keep them locked up. Out of sight. On the loose, they're a box-office smash, compelling and capable of provoking a nostalgia deadly to any current Labor politician or union official.Keating praised Kelty as the anti-narcissist with a national vision; Kelty explained the brilliance of the old Labor-union model with its high growth, increased productivity and falling unemployment; Hawke, rarely in the same room with Keating these days, "agreed with everything Paul said" about Bill before breaking into the most tribal of union songs.It was a "back to the future" moment. A sweet dream before waking to the 2012 daylight nightmare. Hawke, Kelty and Keating are legends that only burn brighter with the years. It is fitting to celebrate their times and, even among those who watched them for so long, always compelling to see them again.
Labor and unions in uneasy embrace