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Saturday, June 28, 2008

This detestable book

That's how Margaret Pope has described Bassett's Working with David book in the NZ Herald today. Although only a small fraction of the way through it at present, I have some sympathy with what she has said in the article and I'm getting a strong and acrid taste already about where Bassett is heading in his tome on the machinations of the Lange government:

Working with David does much to suggest that David hit the mark. The writing is purple, overheated, even foam-flecked. The method is unusual for a scholarly work. It starts with an idea or, more often, with a slur, and looks for facts which back it up. If the author can't find any facts, he makes something up.

This is the book's idea of me: I was a rigid and old-fashioned Labour supporter, an old-style socialist, ideologically opposed to the economic changes of the 1980s. Taking advantage of the prime minister's infatuation, I seized my chance to bend him to my will, leading him to fall out with his finance minister while I took control of his office and brought about the destruction of the fourth Labour Government. It's not surprising that reviewers have resorted to asking if the author could possibly be serious.


And earlier she proclaims:

the first time I ever met Dr Michael Bassett I felt my flesh creep.

Well the feeling was, and still is, clearly mutual. And to be fair, when you see his photograph on the inside dust jacket, he does appear to be creepy. He's got that creepy look in his eye.

Bassett mentioned that when asked what he saw in her, Lange replied "she thinks like me." Now this strikes Bassett as absurd and he can't make much sense of it, but after reading Pope's scathing reply I think Lange might have seen a fellow soul, a less ideological person than those surrounding him at the time, and perhaps someone he could talk to removed from the sort of inside scheming that Lange accuses Bassett of in his memoir - and that Bassett by his own account seems to confess with some pride in his own book. He was eternally "doing the numbers" and involved himself in plots and maneoverings aplenty. Lange had no time at all for that side of politics. That might have been part of the attraction to Pope, seeing as how she was not born and bred Labour. It's hard to tell at this point.

In reading Bassett and Pope, the struggle has all the hallmarks of jealousy.

6 Comments:

At 29/6/08 12:25 am, Blogger Truth Seeker said...

Bassett has never understood anyone who does not think like Bassett. It is a monumental failing in a would-be historian, forever condeming him to report dates, places, facts and names.....but beyond that he is unreliable as his "lens" is fogged by his own unfounded 'certainties'.

I used to read Bassett's column in the DomPost and couldn't understand how anyone could take him seriously. He was so obviously one-eyed, self-serving and incredibly arrogant I eventually stopped reading him altogether.

I was disturbed to find that he was also a frequent columnist in Canada's National Post, misleading Canadians about New Zealand to suit whatever agenda he and his fellow travelers there might have.

 
At 29/6/08 7:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He's got that creepy look in his eye". My God, we are then supposed to take the rest of your post as serious?

 
At 30/6/08 2:16 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to David’s first wife.

As far as I know she never re-married and is living a rather poor life in SA - seems a shame, she may not have been glamorous but she seemed a decent sort.

Surely David got a good pension from the state and had other form of income, I hope he did his best to provide fairly for the woman who was with him for many years through fat and less fat and had his children.

Do partners get a pension after all (in her day at least) they seem expected to give up a lot of their own lives and work for free, maybe only the women do that, Peter Davis does not seem to do much and his career has prospered.

 
At 2/7/08 11:56 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"GIVEN THAT NUCLEAR ENERGY EXISTS IT IS THE INTENTION BEHIND ITS USE WHICH MATTERS.THE WEAPONS ARE MADE TO DESTROY AND WE HAVE TO LEARN TO LIVE WITHOUT THEM.THE REST MAY BE USEFUL, IF PROPERLY MANAGED.THE MANAGEMENT IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE."(1)

THE MARKET FOR ENERGY IS HUGE AND THE WORLDS POPULATION CONSUMES ABOUT 15 TERAWATTS OF POWER, EQUIVALENT TO 15,000 COAL FIRED POWER STATIONS WHICH BY 2050 WILL HAVE DOUBLED TO 30,000 COAL FIRED POWER STATIONS.(2)

IF YOU WANT TO MAKE AN ENVIRONMENTALIST SQUIRM, HOWEVER MENTION NUCLEAR POWER AS ATOMIC ENERGY WAS THE GREEN MOVEMENTS DARKEST NIGHTMARE:THE CHILD OF MASS DESTRUCTION, THE ULTIMATE VICTORY OF PITILESS TECHNOLOGY OVER FRAIL HUMANITY AND THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT.ACCORDING TO AMERICA; NUCLEAR REACTORS ARE THE ONE PROVEN WAY TO MAKE CARBON DIOXIDE-FREE ELECTRICITY "IN LARGE AND RELIABLE QUANTITIES".NUCLEAR POWER-WHICH ALREADY PROVIDES 15% OF THE WORLDS POWER-IS THE ONLY POSSIBLE WAY OUT OF CLIMATE CHANGE FOR THEM AND THERE ARE PLANS IN AMERICA ALONE TO BUILD 29 NEW REACTORS.HOWEVER NONE OF THESE IDEAS DEALS WITH THE QUESTION OF NUCLEAR WASTE, AND THE BEST ANSWER REALLY IS PAY SOMEONE TO BURY THE STUFF FOR THE TIME BEING IN A VERY DEEP HOLE!

(1);DAVID LANGE MY LIFE, PAGES 157/158;

(2);THE BUSINESS HERALD.SPECIAL REPORT.THE FUTURE NIGHTMARE MAY NOW BE THE DREAM;6.NUCLEAR;OF ENERGY:THERE IS HOPE.PAGE 12,FRIDAY,JUNE 27TH,2008.

 
At 2/7/08 1:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nuclear power is a "hoary old chestnut" the likes of Graham Hill and his 'techno-boffin' mates in the weekend on radio live like to bring up from time to time.This is almost as boring scientifically speaking of course as the pronunciation/pronounciation debate on talkback radio after midnight with Pat on Newstalk ZB!

 
At 3/7/08 10:34 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take it easy on the fat jokes will ya matey!

 

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