Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 1. 28 February 1972
The Best Brass Band in the World
The Best Brass Band in the World
The demise of Holyoake, accompanied as it was by sanctimonious denials of [unclear: acrimony]; can bring vindictive satisfaction only to those who are able to imagine the world that exists behind the scenes. There were signs if you cared to look for them: Holyoake requesting that he be accompanied to the Caucus room; the excessive use of christian names by Jack and Rob, and Holyoake's insistant reminder that it was what he hadintendedall along. There were minor power games, too, that were worthy of note The spectacle of Jack announcing on Television that Bottler Shelton would soon announce his retirement to his local branch, had about it the smelll of contradiction. Maybe he figured that television hadn't penetrated as far as the Rangitikei.
It is reasonable to assume that the whole performance was a victory for the anti-Muldoon faction of the Party. Rob had been off-side with the more conservative element by reason of his abraisive pushy "I get things done" approach. The past few months had seen a moderation born of the desire of the Minister of Finance to convince this element of the Party that he was not the man that burped at a State Dinner, and there were indications that it was paying off. Rob's growing acceptability apparently frightened the die-hards who saw the need for the leadership to be decided (i.e. changed) as soon as possible. So the "Dominion" chimed in with a "quit while you are ahead editorial", Marshall rallied his dwindling forces, the Parliamentary wing of the party was roused briefly from its customary somnolence, and a ho ho was replaced by a whimper
The immediate question was, of course, whether Marshall and Muldoon would be able to forget "The healthy competition" (i.e. bury the hatchet) and present a united facade. Again television provided a little side commentary. Predictably enough breathless interviewers raised with Holyoake, Marshall and Muldoon the memory of Marshall "disciplining" Muldoon before an audience of thousands at the time of the Brian Brooks farce. Holyoake and Muldoon emphasised the view that the incident had been played up by the media and denied that there had been any question of "Discipline". Marshall smiled and spoke of things being forgotten, the "wages-prices-spiral", and the selection of his "team".
Which brings us, not altogether subtly, to a consideration of the team. Predictably enough it is consistent with all the connotations of that euphemism for group mentality - faceless, grey, mediocre and cautious to a man they paraded before the camera with all the verve of Debs at the Winter Show Building. They all, they assured us, had ideas but were all unwilling to divulge them at this stage. We would, so to speak, find out in the fullness of time. And who could forget Marshall's slow, sickly, half-aware smile when laughter confronted him with his "No one's been moved down; some have been moved up ahead of them".
And what of Marshall, the new Prime Minister, our man in London, Paris, Zurich and Karori? In 1968 Salient reported him (whether accurately I'm not sure) as opining that a Nationalist Chinese invasion of China would be "a good thing", which places him to the right of Nixon. In 1972 he appeared dramatically on television-to have a heart to heart and explain to the country what he intended to do, which, if repeated often enough, places him twelve years ahead of his time. I can't think of anything much he's done in between.
In any event press speculation is over, democracy has been upheld (albeit behind closed doors) and the country is ready and willing to give the chosen one a fair go. The "Evening Post" was one of the first papers to grasp the imp lications of the change - the National Party educational millstone had been caste off! While Holyoake was free to race off and read Hayley Mills' essay on "Liberty", Harpo Marx's "Das Kapital", Joe McCarthy's poems and listen to Albert Einstein's "West Side Story" we had a Graduate for Prime minister. As a country, the "Evening Post" pointed out, we are against education and the "egg-heads" (how's it goin' mate - alright?). Now that we are into the seventies and now that even the African States have graduates in government, however, it might be time for a change. Norman Kirk hasn't got a degree has he?
Why the incident I am about to relate sums it all up I'm not quite sure but (to avoid further procrastination) it happened like this. Some years ago a Salient reporter was granted an audience with Muldoon. Armed with resolve a radical view, and a tape-recorder he presented himself at the heart of the machine. Apparently the interview was a complete farce (it took the alloted half hour to trudge from the door to Muldoon's desk) but it is not that which concerns me. While the reporter waited in the Secretary's office he noted that the murmurings which emanated from the intercom were in fact being created in the House. The secretary scribbled busily; the clock, almost blotting out the sounds from the House, ticked dynamically; newsboys cried distortedly; the secretary's woolly mittens steamed on the radiator; Muldoon's copy of "The Business Man's Guide" sat on top of a filing cabinet. Suddenly the quality of sound from the intercom changed radically, dynamism was in the air. The new speaker talked with conviction and force, beating his desk with his hand as he spoke; "The members on the other side of the House may wish to disagree with me but I can say without fear of their contradiction that we have the best brass band in the World!"