Western Intelligence believed that mystery mandarin Nation Builder was actually demolition agent.
When Keith Ovenden married Helen Sutch only daughter of Bill and Shirley he can be forgiven if he believed that in this alliance he had also become heir to a cultural hegemony.
There were though early indications that Keith’s induction chez Sutch would be anything but smooth.
Indeed Keith Ovenden newly arrived in New Zealand and supping with his new in-laws found the experience difficult to the point of indigestion.
This froideur could not be alleviated by the ingestion of a chardonnay or pinot, local of course. A moral absolutist, Bill Sutch was an aggressive teetotaller.
On one of his rigorous hikes in the Makara region of the Wellington coast one of the Sutch companions in the freezing weather pulled out a hip flask of whisky, took a swig, and received a dour dressing down from Sutch on the evils of liquor.
A well set up cove, urbane, the young Ovenden wondered about the cause of this dinner dyspepsia, unrelieved as it must have been by the emollient of any booze.
The reason for the tension as anyone who knew the Sutch menage at this time understood was that Keith was too urbane, too smooth.
Wanted on this familial doctrinal voyage was a firebrand son-in-law. Someone with an audacious disregard for the niceties….A preacher who could pack the Sutch intellectual church.
By the time Keith had digested this there came an event that defined the family forever.
At 2040 hours on September 26 1974 on a bleak Wellington evening and outside a brick public convenience elements of the Security Intelligence Service apprehended William Ball Sutch whose mystical writ across economics, the arts, and geopolitics until this very moment was unquestioned
Bill Sutch must have known that CAZAB as Five Eyes was then known was in the language of those days still “tearing the house down” to expose the high placed New Zealand public servants deemed to be assisting the USSR since the 1930s. Yet he all but offered himself up in the Soviet hand-over bust that night in Wellington.
What was he passing over? Probably the New Zealand meat schedule which gave the Soviets a position on their pricing for their own global meat procurement. The Soviet food shortage had in turn been created by Moscow’s doctrinal meddling in agriculture.
Sutch as the long term and defining supremo of trade during his tour as head of the department of industries and commerce might reasonably have retained access to this extremely useful early-warning data. After all, Bill’s reputation as an economist was founded on centralised pricing.
The subsequent trial in which Bill Sutch was acquitted made him the Dreyfus of the South Seas. Arguments see-saw back and forth and time has not diminished the debate.
Dr Sutch, as he liked to be known, was a mystery within a mystery, a one-man Russian doll, a series of contradictions and irreconciliable differences.
Why do some people flourish in large-scale institutional life while others seemingly equally gifted wither on the vine?
Bill personifies the answer to this riddle. He was all things to all men. You wanted the running on globalism? You went to Bill. Nationalism? Bill was your man. The books were there to prove it, the ones with ringing titles such as Quest for Security, Responsible Society, Takeover New Zealand.
A characteristic of any examination at all of the duo is that the author/commentators seek to focus on Shirley.
Shirley, a human rights lawyer, is a recognisable figure in the causes of the last century. It is in Bill that we find the contradictory persona that will ensure that the Sutch syndrome will continue to be mined for years to come.
For example it was Shirley who looked as if she was from an everyday provenance and Bill with his David Niven-meets Claude Rains aspect who looked posh. In fact Shirley was the daughter of a judge. Bill was the son of a carpenter and a seamstress.
Bill thought of himself as an architect, hence his vaunted role as a nation builder. He saw how real-life architects needed to get alongside the cultural elites, the people who ran the show, and thus he immersed himself in the arts. Nobody likes a dull boy, however adept at administration. He was chairman of the Arts Council at the time of his arrest.
When a year later, at a mere 68, Bill Sutch died the ensuing festschrift, collection of tributes, testified to Bill’s quasi-mystical intellectual status with the most boffo of all the titles in the Sutch constellation – Spirit of the Age, a tag which has about it still now an eerie accuracy.
There are two recent books on the Sutch syndrome. First off the rank was Sarah Gaitanos with Shirley Smith: An Examined Life (Victoria University Press.) Now we have Keith Ovenden with Bill & Shirley: A Memoir (Massey University Press.)
The portrait of a marriage could have been entitled The Long Shadow because this is where Keith has dwelled. He has become frozen in time as the eternal son in law. One recalls his crisp worldly contributions to Column Comment, the local tv version of What The Papers Say. He co-founded The Week a disappointingly short-lived ideas and opinion newspaper. Academia has beckoned over the ensuing years. He was made ONZM.
Oxford, the university, looms over the Sutch saga. Shirley went there. So did daughter Helen and of course Keith was there also. One recalls the words at the end of his long Oxford career of the late Master of Balliol, Benjamin Jowett.
Soldier of Fortune & Scholar was present at the creation of global co-operation shift
A soldier of fortune turned humanitarian and increasingly recognised pivotal figure in the last Balkan wars is now thought to have had New Zealand origins.
Major Bill Foxton (pictured) who served with the European Commission Monitoring Mission was present at the hinge of history when it became obvious that United Nations by its structure was unable to deal with conflicts such as those in the breakup of Yugoslavia.
The fall of Srebrenica and other towns that the Security Council had identified as safe areas, but then refused to authorize enough troops to defend can be viewed now as the decisive moment for the UN.
United Nations now switched its emphasis away from policing and instead turned to non-partisan idealistic causes that transcended ethno-politics and belief systems and above all sidestepped dangerous interventions in nationalism.
Its fixation on Climate now evolved as its standard-bearing campaign
It was this Balkan vacuum, the one left by United Nations, into which now plunged Major Bill Foxton.
One of the hottest spots in Bosnia was the Bihac Pocket and it was there that Bill Foxton immersed himself for two years of fratricidal in-fighting. “Bosnia’s Forgotten Battlefield-Bihaj” by Brendan O’Shea is dedicated to Major Foxton
After this Major Foxton moved to Sarajevo as the European Commission Monitoring Mission’s training officer.
After Bosnia, Bill Foxton became in May 1998, an unarmed observer for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in northern Albania, gaining the trust of the local leaders and of the refugees from Kosovo who were pouring into his area.
“Major Foxton ensured that the OSCE headquarters received a steady stream of accurate information and intelligent analysis from throughout the Kosovo crisis in early 1999,” recalls a general officer in the Balkan theatre
“Bill could not abide unfairness and injustice. As such he was a natural peacekeeper, a peerless unarmed monitor and a perfect candidate for humanitarian work. What made him so effective was his determination to act, in addition to his ability to spot and report accurately on injustice and humanitarian need,” noted the same general officer.
Major Bill Foxton in his career served in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe itself ever since in fact he joined the Foreign Legion as a 17 year old.
As a soldier of fortune he can be seen now as a transitional figure in the profession of arms, a practitioner whose sword became forged into a ploughshare.
With his red hair, barrel chest, and waxed moustache Bill Foxton started his career with the Legion in the last of the colonial wars in Algeria and continued all the way to Afghanistan and in doing so traversing in a personal way modern history.
Along the way he had become one of the English-speaking military sphere’s foremost linguists conversant with the variegated Balkan languages among many others. He is the compiler of the standard Baluchi-English dictionary.
In June 1999, he was made an OBE for rescuing a child from a minefield in Bosnia.
He had earlier lost his left arm while trying to de-fuse an unexploded shell while serving in Oman, a British protectorate. His forearm now became replaced with a prosthetic with a hook on the end of it.
No stranger to military symbolism Major Foxton was to use this hook which had several Swiss Army knife-style attachments as his own trademark.
After continuing to serve in the Balkans for several years after hostilities ended, Major Foxton took one last assignment, this time in Afghanistan reprising his humanitarian assignments.
He was eventually persuaded to leave this war zone only after intelligence reports signalled that he had become a marked man, and was therefore a magnet to attacks which would inevitably involve his civilian charges.
A former intelligence officer with the British army in Ireland during the Troubles he knew exactly what this meant and after an active military career approaching half a century he reluctantly and finally hit civvy street.
His extraordinary life in three armies would beyond the military sphere have gone unnoticed had not Major Foxton become irrevocably bound up with the Madoff scandal in which he lost his life savings and which caused him in consequence to take his own life and which conferred on him a kind of posthumous celebrity.
He had crawled through minefields, disarmed unexploded ordnance, yet ultimately he was done in by the people he trusted, his investment advisers – civilians.
Now there are indications that this soldier of fortune, humanitarian and scholar sprang from New Zealand origins.
It is thought that his father was a New Zealand serviceman who had married in Britain during the war - and stayed there . Major Foxton, the son, was born in 1943.
Meanwhile Major Bill Foxton’s humanitarian operations during the last Balkan wars are considered to have been extensive.
This was particularly so in his ability to deploy regional languages as NATO rapidly took over operations from United Nations.
Asked on one occasion how he was able to assimilate so many diverse languages he said simply that it was a matter of listening to them.
Meanwhile, there is a strong indication that as the Balkans once again became the tinderbox of history there was at this pivot a character who could have walked out of any adventure book and who had a New Zealand connection to boot.
Jason Connery 2009 film proves that Life does follow Art
Graham McTavish might not be everyone’s idea of a travelling companion. A grotesque dwarf in Sir Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, the grizzled fiery lead in Preacher, the only actor to play opposite to Sly Stallone in both Rambo and Rocky…..
Sidekick Sam Heughan presents a milder aspect as the two Outlander stalwarts hit the glens in their Clanlands travel book aided by a strong tailwind in the form of a forward by Outlander creator the American author Diana Gabaldon.
All a bit other worldly you might think as the footloose buddies emerge from behind the footlights to hit the traffic lights in road book on the Highlands.
If Outlander takes viewers through ethereal epochs of time travel, its two real life stars take readers on a feet-on-the-ground terra firma traverse of the highland highways and byways interspersed with the unreconstructed characters who populate them.
Graham McTavish in fact divides his time between Scotland and New Zealand traversing time zones instead of epochs.
He had a big role in a 2009 film called Pandemic in which he played Captain Riley whose mission was to “save the world.”
The film was directed by Jason Connery.
Just this year Britain’s Radio Times readers voted for Sam Heughan to take over the James Bond role from Daniel Craig.
Jason’s dad, Sean, was of course the first James Bond and who is generally considered the first celebrity superpatriot to take up the cause of Scots independence.
This leaves us with Graham McTavish who as he travels between Scotland and his New Zealand-based family and as he cools his heels in managed isolation in the process must be wishing that his film Pandemic had been taken rather more seriously.
Rotten Tomatoes did. It’s verdict on the 2009 film Pandemic was:-
“Moving this exciting thriller along at just the right pace, director Jason Connery builds considerable suspense concerning how it will end…..”
So in relishing their rollicking trail through the Highlands we can discern in the travelogue duologue a foggy whisp of ghostly and indeed deadly Outlander-grade supernatural forces.
Encouragingly for these rowdy latter day Monarchs of the Glen and their publishers, Hodder, is the fact that New Zealand boasts the largest consumption of printed books per head of population and is only rivalled by Norway.
The itinerant actors find themselves pathfinding a print/cinematographic blend in the form of Clanlands being a prequel to Men in Kilts which his described as a docuseries.
Meanwhile, in Scotland’s Highlands the past is the present and so the travellers’ japes and capers are interspersed with historical context.
The authors note that the lockdowns attendant on the current pandemic, the real one, had the effect of putting a sock into their reminiscing and forcing them into the serious business of actually getting their book written.
Time travel is one thing and nowadays true travel is something else involving as it does necessary quarantine hibernation, an interruption absent in the science fiction version.
Not too outlandish then to suggest that Graham McTavish for one will have the time on his hands to start work on Clandlands volume 2?
New Zealand is often described as the Scotland of the South Seas and it is a country that Graham McTavish has visited for the past 30 years.
Since in fact Alice Fraser, granddaughter of the nation’s defining prime minister Peter Fraser, arranged for him to stage his touring Van Gogh show there.
Liberal Leader Malcolm Turnbull’s true belief in Opposition policies haunts Australian politics
The Turnbull Test is designed to show the degree to which a political party leader has their heart in their own party. Or in the other side’s. It is named after Australian Liberal Party leader and federal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
He consistently demonstrated that far from being a conservative his leanings were anything but conservative and that in fact that his heart was very much with the Opposition in the form of the Australian Labour Party and the Green Party.
Mr Turnbull’s inability to disguise his preference for leftist causes notably republicanism and climatism continues to haunt the Liberals.
National Press Club NZ president Peter Isaac now analyses the New Zealand party leaders against the Turnbull Test and does so as the New Zealanders tool up for their imminent general election. Do they really believe in their own party? Really?
Let’s look at them:-
- Jacinda Ardern Labour Leader and Prime Minister. Turnbull Test score: 100 percent. Her obvious delight in identitarian politics and the whole United Nations line singles her out as a true socialist looking for underdogs with which to empathise. Her motto is “Be Kind,” and she means it.
Judith Collins Leader of the Opposition and the National Party: 100 percent. She is the governess of Parliament, impatient with mawkish sentimentality, and demonstrably stern with those she views as indulging in it.
- Winston Peters Leader of the New Zealand First Party and deputy Prime Minister: 60 percent. Once a stalwart of the National party he broke away to form his own party. He is at heart what is known in the United States as a Prairie Populist. He is non doctrinal and will dip into other party’s policies as he did with his off-peak travel and discount Gold Card scheme for pensioners.
- James Shaw co- Leader of the Green Party: 65 percent. His buttoned down look continues to betray the corporate financial figure he once was. This in a coalition party whose members often give the aspect of having strolled out of a rock concert. The Green Party heavying of the rest of the Labour-led coalition cabinet in diverting money to a no-no private school, even a Green one, indicates a doctrinal fissure.
- David Seymour Leader of the ACT Party: 110 percent. The leader of this one-seat Parliamentary Party is in a de-facto voting arrangement with National. Mr Seymour has come into prominence through his right-to-die legislation which is subject to an integrated referendum at the general election. Mr Seymour’s upper lip curls in contempt at the mere contemplation of the United Nations omnibus agenda which plays such a large part in the ruling Labour-led coalition doxology.
The Turnbull Test reveals that for the most part the New Zealand political leaders sidestep the perils of the syndrome in which leaders find their sympathies lying in fact with their opponents instead of with their own parties.
Even so, and with the New Zealand leadership emerging convincingly from the Turnbull Test, we find a selection of intriguing ironies and contradictions, some of them centred on the Labour Party’s imperative to inhabit the moral high ground.
Bizarrely New Zealand’s heart-string pulling Labour Party must suppress the ardours of its most activist devotees who are prone in their zeal to tossing their second vote, the party one, to the Greens.
Neither does Labour want to have to forge together another coalition with the Greens, dedicated as the Greens are to the aspirations of an elite constituency that is light years removed politically from Labour’s own face-value worker base.
Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party must somehow deter the Labour Party’s ultra activist devotees from tossing this second vote, their ideological vote, once described as the conscience vote, to the Green Party.
This second vote is a huge bloc and includes for example those involved in education at any level and a large slice of professionals including quasi professions such as the media.
This elites vote as it is often described is earmarked for the Greens in the justified belief that the Greens will enforce a hard left agenda while Labour of necessity must implement bread and butter policies if only to keep the economy going in order to keep Labour in power.
Skilfully, the Greens use their influence with the mainstream media to take both sides of their load-bearing climate policy plank. Thus, if there are floods it is due to “carbon” as they describe carbon dioxide. If there is a drought, then it too is due to “carbon.”
The New Zealand proportional representation system is based on the German one. There are two votes. One for a candidate. One for a Party.
Our test indicates the absence in New Zealand party politics of a Malcolm Turnbull whose stewardship of the Australian Liberal i.e. conservative party was conducted while in his breast beat the progressivist heart of a university social sciences undergraduate.