John Armstrong

John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

Book review: Incredible Luck by Don Brash

20 comments
Cover for Incredible Luck by Don Brash. Photo / Greg Bowker
Cover for Incredible Luck by Don Brash. Photo / Greg Bowker

Don Brash's autobiography, Incredible Luck, is proof aplenty that when it comes to forging a successful career in politics, you can have all the attributes you think you need - charisma, charm, intelligence, vision, the capacity to persuade, the ability to communicate, personnel management skills and so forth - but you need one thing above everything else.

That thing is an innate sixth sense which alerts you to hidden traps and pending trouble, tells you what is politically possible and what is not, and ensures you come out of any argument occupying the high ground, moral or otherwise.

In that regard, Parliament is a great leveller. From the first pages of the book, it is evident Brash lacked the necessary political smarts. After standing down as National's leader, Brash assumed John Key, the man who replaced him would offer him the shadow finance portfolio, partly to keep at bay Bill English who Brash believed still hankered for the leadership he had lost to Brash three years earlier.

Even Brash now realises this was naive in the extreme. It also demonstrated a failure to appreciate the dynamics of the National caucus of which Brash should have been well-versed.

Key instead offered him Tertiary Education and a ranking on National's second bench. Brash got the message he was not wanted and immediately quit politics.

In his autobiography, he is tough on Key, saying he believed the latter had the vision and courage to take New Zealand in the direction Brash believed it needed to move.

That Key turned out to be a poll-driven pragmatist is of major frustration to Brash - and he does not hold back in saying so.

Key, however, will brush aside the criticism. Being attacked by someone perceived as being fairly far to the right will be taken by Key as conformation that his centrist positioning of National is dead right in terms of picking up the maximum number of votes.

As it is, Brash's unhappiness with Key is likely to be overshadowed by the former revealing he contemplated suicide following the end of his two marriages, along with his analysis - based on experience - of why males commit adultery.

That may be titillating enough to draw in readers. But be warned. Brash was by trade an economist and a banker first. Large chunks are thus devoted to his career in the financial world and the intricacies of monetary policy at the Reserve Bank.

It was at the latter institution which Brash got most satisfaction.

Still, he came close to becoming prime minister. But" close" in politics is not enough. And, as demonstrated by the disaster which was his brief leadership of Act, the party within which he was supposed to sit most comfortably ideology-wise, Brash and politics, like oil and water, were never really supposed to mix.

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a2 at 03 Sep 2014 16:53:11 Processing Time: 351ms