Australian Left Review

Abstract

The title of Paul Ormonde's biography of Jim Cairns — A Foolish Passionate Man — may describe the actions of the subject at certain times, but hardly does justice to a complex and towering figure of Australian post-war politics. James Ford Cairns, former Deputy Prime Minister, leader of the parliamentary left, central figure in the great anti-Viet Nam war demonstrations of the early 1970s and now devoting his energies to "the alternative Confest movement", needs little introduction to the vast majority of A L R readers. Yet the tendency to remember only the traumas of those last few months of the Whitlam government and a certain elitism in the left towards the Confest movement has resulted in many of Cairns' former admirers becoming all-knowing critics.

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