Posted by: jkirkby8712 | December 4, 2010

Some biographical reflections from former leaders.

Early Saturday morning, the sun’s shining warmly outside, don’t know for how long because yet more rain and storms are predicted. I wish I’d had a good camera with me last Thursday evening – as I was walking into the Bowling Club for the Committee dinner, the clouds coming overhead were as thickly ink black as I’ve ever seen them, and at that moment, it seemed inevitable that a massive storm was about to hit us. As it was, that ‘one’ must have moved on quickly and struck somewhere else because we only received a few light patches of rain. But those storm clouds were something to behold!

I was reading a few more pages from  former Prime Minister John Howard’s biography last might [Lazarus Rising], and he was talking about how he felt on the night he ‘finally’ won the election in March 1996 after years of failures, rejections [even from his own Party] and deep disappointments. He compared his responses that night to a famous English Prime Minister, and quoting from page 228, we read as follows.

“There were many touching moments and gestures made to me on the night of ther election; one that I shall always remember and which, literally, brought tears to my eyes, came from my brother Wal and his wife, Gwen. They gave me a caricature of Winston Churchill in the form of a mug, into which Gwen had deposited a note in her own handwriting, repeating a recollection of Churchill’s which recorded his emotions when he finally became Prime Minister of Great Britain in the dark times of World War II. It read as follows:

‘I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I was walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour, and for this trial……I thought I knew a good deal about it all and was sure I would not fail. Therefore, although impatient for the morning I slept soundly and had no need of cheering dreams – facts are better than dreams’. [Winston Churchill]

And as Howard went on to say:- ‘I came to the prime ministership with a long experience in politics. Serving as federal Treasurer is a great training ground for the top position. In addition I had been tested and tempered by the turbulence of 13 years in opposition. I had known years of rejection by my own party as well as experiencing defeat at the polls in 1987. I came to the job as a known quantity, with not all of the Australian people liking what they knew. For the duration of my prime ministership, the Australian community knew where I stood on issues and that there was a consistency of belief on certain things, according to which I would govern. From the moment of my return to the leadership on 30 January 1995, the Coalition had presented as a unified cohesive force. The old animosities dissolved almost overnight, and every section of the two parties united in a determination to make certain of victory’. [John Howard, p. 228]

This is a large volume which I have been reading off and on in those rare spare moments I find, since the 5th November when I purchased it, just a few weeks after it was published heree in Australia. A story told in three parts, I guess the first third of the book, where I have just reached consisted of Parts 1 [‘His’ Early Life & the Fraser Government], and Part 2  [The Opposition Years]. The major part of the book from here I am reading now, probably quite naturally deals with his eleven years as Prime Minister, the ‘Years of the Howard Government’ taking us through until the period, as Howard titles it ‘The Tide Runs Out’. No doubt I shall return at various points, as we move again through those years, and the many tumultous events that occurred along the way, both within Australia and internationally.

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