Monday, July 21, 2014

September Showdown by John Terrace

I knew John way back in 1990 when he was involved with Valley FM, a radio station that both Dean and I were cutting our teeth in the medium.  He had already been a local MP and a long serving Mayor.  He went on to serve the Hutt Valley for many more years, too.  He was never afraid to call a spade a shovel, or to dig the turf when the sods needed turning.  So, t's no surprise that with special affiliation to any of the parties he's slingin' brickbats and bouquets with equal measure.

Delivered in a series of ranting, witty, and all-too-clever letters to his wide-eyed nephew Basil, Terris shares his experiences as he sets out to explain to his protege the role of  office of Member of the New
Zealand Parliament - which looks so attractive to the bright, personable and idealistic young
man or woman, may turn out to be something else.  Yet how to convey the disappointments in
store, the trials and tribulations, not to mention the betrayals and disillusionment, which
awaits them after they achieve their dream?

Given that the upcoming election could be a one trick pony in a one sided rig of fire, why bother?  David Cunliffe is offering nothing,  Craig's Conservatives are simply wolves in Act's clothing and Winston' still refuses to tell us what his policies will be, despite a full half hour interview on Q&A that told us nothing more acutely than anything he's ever said.  Terris is not into pitching up one to the other.  This is simply a platform for a  vivid, yet tongue-in-cheek, meander through all that lies ahead of Basil in his quest for selection for the Labour Party (or the National Party, should that go badly) and ultimately a seat in parliament.

Terris' book has it's moments.  It's a bit dated in places, the language belonging to the grumpier of the old men  Still that's fine for the right audience.  However, it is still entertaining in a 'Punch' sort of way.  Some lines are a bit tired: "The Pen is more Paua-ful than the sword" being one example.   Also dated are the references to Rob Muldoon and the like.  Given I was but a nipper when the tyrant was in power I have to ask in this day ad age - does anyone care ?  That was over 35 years ago.  Have we, or can we ever move on?  Such is the nature of politics.  The public have short memories and commentators have elephantine cerebral banks by comparison, well beyond the point of a caring readership.

John Terris moved into politics in 1977 after a very successful broadcasting career in both radio and TV. Initially a local councillor in the Hutt Valley, in 1978 he began four terms as the Labour MP for Western Hutt, including as the Deputy Speaker of the House and became the first MP to sponsor a private
member’s bill supporting proportional representation.  Oh yes, he's responsible!!!!! In 1989 was presented with a Queen’s Service Order for his time in parliament.  He has also held several administration
positions in both major parties, has enjoyed the privileges of power and been on the receiving end of bad publicity as an MP. He is currently a member of the Hutt Valley District Health Board, a writer and is still involved with many community groups..  Sadly Valley FM is no more - perhaps he could help resurrect it.

September Showdown is was just released (14 July - $24.99) and is available from all major NZ book chains and independent bookstores.

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