Trump vs Clinton

It’s on. Man vs woman. Republican vs Democrat. You may well be fed up with the whole thing by now but if not, we have plenty of reading material on the presidential hopefuls, including Trump’s The Art of the Deal.

Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of this immensely popular “memoir” of the real estate tycoon gave an astonishing interview with The New Yorker this week in which he expressed regret at having written it.

Cover of The art of the deal“I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

Whoa.

But The Art of the Deal is by no means the only book about, or purportedly by, Trump in our collection.

Cover of Never enough Cover of Crippled America Cover of Trump never give up Cover of Trump University Real Estate 101

Find more titles about Donald J. Trump

But by sheer volume Hillary Rodham Clinton is in the lead…

Cover of H R C Cover of Hard choices Cover of Living history Cover of A woman in charge Cover of Her way Cover of Leadership secrets of Hillary Clinton Cover of The secretary Cover of Hillary

Find more titles about Hillary Rodham Clinton

You are free and strong. Go forward and lead on.

You are in front! Behind you are all the women in the world and all the children! Keep moving forward. Do not stop to blame those who are behind. Remember that they are weighted with what remains of all the shackles of all the women of the past; they cannot step forth free. But you are free and strong. Go forward and lead on.

Elizabeth Reid McCombs, née Henderson (1873-1935) [between 1919 and 1925] Mrs McCombs became New Zealand's first woman MP, for the Lyttelton electorate in 1933.
Elizabeth Reid McCombs, née Henderson (1873-1935) [between 1919 and 1925] CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0028
Mrs McCombs became New Zealand’s first woman MP, for the Lyttelton electorate in 1933.
Stirring words written in July 1914 by Elizabeth McCombs: her article “Women in politics” still has relevance today.

So who was New Zealand’s first woman Member of Parliament?

  • Elizabeth (Bessie) Reid Henderson was born at Kaiapoi on 19 November 1873. She was the eighth of nine children, and despite the death of her father when she was 13, she stayed at school until aged 16.
  • In 1899 she became a committee member of the Progressive Liberal Association, a group that had as one of its aims the removal of barriers to women’s participation in civil and political life.
  •  A prohibitionist, she was the first president of the Young People’s No License League (1902-1905) and was a prominent figure in the New Zealand Women’s Christian Temperance Union
  • In 1903 Elizabeth married draper James McCombs. They had two children, Terence and Alison. They also raised two orphans.
  • When the second NZ Labour Party was formed in 1916, Elizabeth was elected onto the executive and her husband was elected President. He had been elected the M.P for Lyttelton in 1913, and held the seat until his death in 1933
  • She served on the Christchurch City Council from 1921-1934, where she was very active on committees – being appointed to the electricity committee in 1925 and chaired the Electricity Committee in 1929, and 1931-1935. She fought to win ratepayers the lowest domestic electricity rates in the country.
  • From 1925-1934 Elizabeth was also a member of the North Canterbury Hospital Board, and served on the Board’s Benevolent Committee. She worked to improved the quality of meals for nurses and patients, nurses’ working conditions, and the situation of the unemployed – remembering that the Great Depression started in 1929.
  • In 1926 Elizabeth’s name was included in the first group of women to be made Justices of the Peace in New Zealand.
  • 1927  first woman representative on the Christchurch Tramway Board, and in 1933 was elected to the committee managing the mayor’s Relief of Distress Fund
  • Following the death of her husband in 1993, Elizabeth won the Lyttelton by-election with a huge majority – over 50% of the 10,347 votes cast were for her, recognition of her work over the previous ten years.
  • In 1935 she was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal

During her two year tenure as M.P. , Elizabeth proved herself a skilled and effective orator, advocating for women’s rights – attacking a government unemployment policy that gave little assistance to unemployed women, not even including them in statistics, yet working women paid unemployment tax. She advocated for women police officers, and equal pay for women, as well as for unemployed youth and the need for New Zealand industries to be established so as to reduce unemployment

The huge workload took its toll, and Elizabeth’s health suffered as a result. She died in Christchurch on 7 June 1935.  Her son Terence succeeded to her parliamentary seat. The McCombs Memorial Garden in Woolston Park commemorates the lives of Elizabeth and James McCombs.

  Cover of My Dear Girl: A Biography of Elizabeth McCombs Cover of Marching on  Cover of Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan  Cover of The Book of New Zealand Women = Ko Kui Ma Te Kaupapa

Further reading

Recent necrology, December 2013

cover of Merry Christmas CowboyA list of well-known people who have died recently:

  • Ronald Biggs, 1929-2013
    Criminal involved in the 1963 great train robbery
  • Janet Dailey, 1944-2013
    American author of numerous romance novels
  • Jim Hall, 1930-2013
    Elegant jazz guitarist who played with Ella Fitzgerald and Sonny Rollins
  • Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
    Former President of South Africa who guided the country from apartheid to democracy during a life filled with hardship and strruggle
  • Peter O’Toole, 1932-2013
    Hell-raising actor who blazed to fame as Lawrence of Arabia but never fulfilled his early promise of true greatness
  • Eleanor Parker, 1922-2013
    Versatile three-time Oscar nominee who played Baroness Scraeder in The sound of music
  • Paul Torday, 1946-2013
    Novelist whose Salmon fishing in the Yemen satirised Western adventurism in the Middle East
  • Colin Wilson, 1931-2013
    Author who electrified the critics in the 1950s before turning to books on crime and the occult

No gold bar from Gaddafi: In the Ring with Don McKinnon

In the Ring at Christchurch City LibrariesBefore I went to Don McKinnon’s session this morning, I knew little about the Commonwealth or the man who was Secretary-General of the organisation from 2000 to 2008. Now I feel I have an insight into the complexity of dealing with the leaders of the 54 member countries and the tenacity it takes to affect positive political change.

Sir Donald McKinnon, ONZ, GCVO, or Don as he likes to be called, was in conversation with journalist Jane Clifton, discussing his memoir In the Ring and entertaining an appreciative audience with insights from his time with one of the world’s most revered diplomatic organisations.

The Commonwealth is the longest established organisation in the world. Times have changed since the days of the British Commonwealth. Today there are only 16 realms in the group, most of the member states are republics.

Don McKinSir Donald McKinnon at AWRF 2013non spoke about the challenges of dealing with leaders from different cultures and the importance of forming strong personal relationships. He said we believe in transactional relationships in the west whereas in Asia, Africa and the Pacific, building relationships is key.

None of the countries in the Commonwealth are simplistic in their nature. They are complex and not always easy to deal with. Add to this the fact that ‘all leaders are in a permanent state of stress’ and you have a situation which would challenge even the most experienced politician.

Don recalled attending an African Leaders’ meeting and Colonel Gaddafi entered the room, kissed every person there three times, then gave them each a gold bar. To his disappointment, Gaddafi’s minders decided that Don didn’t qualify for a gold bar because he wasn’t actually an African leader.

Don McKinnon is a politician through and through and knows that success in politics centres around trust and making, and keeping, friends in all the right places. Don’t expect any gossip. The author is a career politician who knows his stuff. He is a captivating speaker and not afraid to state his opinion.

And as to the future of the Commonwealth? He says, as long as it sticks to its values, promotes itself strongly and makes sure people know what it’s doing, it will remain an important player in the world of international politics. “There are 180 million kids in the world who will never see a school in there life. There is no shortage of work to be done.”

Recent necrology, October 2011

book coverA  list of notable people who have died recently

Political bios

Working with David
Working with David

Read any good political biographies lately?  With the election (the really important one that is) nearly upon us I was thinking about some I have read.   It usually takes a while for a polly’s (love that typically irreverent Australian term) real contribution to be assessed and it is only when seen from a distance and in their historical context that we can measure their worth or otherwise.  Thus it is that Michael Bassett’s biography of Joseph Ward is one of his best whereas I found his recent book, Working with David; inside the Lange cabinet, is still too recent and smacks of angst and disenchantment.  However the latter is really a memoir rather than a biography and political memoirs are some of the most entertaining, for example Gerald Hensley’s immensely readable Final Approaches, which manages to be both a discreet and illumuninating portrait of NZ diplomacy and public service.
 
There are over eighty biographies and memoirs of and by NZ politicians in the library catalogue.  Try some – it might take your mind off the antics of the current election.