It’s Just Politics

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.

There’s also a negative side.”  Hunter Thompson

The great gonzo journalist was writing about the music industry, but his words would have been just as true if he had been writing about Newfoundland politics.

His quote came to mind while I was reading local author Sonia Glover’s recently published memoir called “Its Just Politics.” It recounts her time as a communications person for well known politician John Efford in his 2001 failed leadership bid to become leader of the Liberal Party and Premier. He was the outsider to Roger Grimes, the Liberal Party establishment’s choice. It was a bitter and divisive campaign that took the Liberal Party a long time to come back from. Spoiler alert – Efford lost.

It’s a great read.

She writes from the perspective of a person new to politics who really got a baptism by fire. Her book captures the excitement, the passion, the hope, as well as the disappointment, frustration and disgust she experienced firsthand during that campaign. She comes across as a decent, hardworking dedicated person unprepared for what she was facing. I appreciated her honesty and her candour.

It is a must read for anyone – young or old – who has never been involved in politics and is thinking of throwing their hat in the ring. I personally think it should be required reading for every political science student at Memorial.

Unlike Ms. Glover, I was weaned on the harsh realities of politics. My parents were John Crosbie supporters when he took on Joey Smallwood for the Liberal leadership in 1969. I was lucky to have the parents I did, who fought Smallwood passionately and involved me in almost everything. I learned at a tender age how passionate, and how nasty, politics can be.

Ms. Glover came to this as an adult. It appears to have been an eye-opener for her, as it might be for most decent folk.

Partisans from other parties have read her book and said to me, “Well, that’s the Liberals for you.” Gentle reader, please take it from me that every political party is as bad, if not worse, and I speak from firsthand experience. If a party supporter tells you they are a cut above the others, my advice is to run as far away as possible.

Political insiders have said to me she comes across as naive in the book. I think that says a lot more about them than her.

If this book does not put a person off politics, it should serve as a primer on what to expect. Especially when the stakes get high.

When you consider that I knew, before I even cracked the cover, not only everything that happened, but every single person mentioned in the book, I still found it a rippin’ yarn. Glover knows how to tell a story.

In the past, when people have asked me to read a book they’ve written, I always get a pit in my stomach. Too often it’s because the product that they have lovingly slaved over sucks canal water. Then what do you say?

I only know Glover in passing, and when I got a copy, I thought, “What the hell.” I was glad I read it. It’s authentic, sincere and, most surprisingly, not a bitter story. She tells it like it was.

Regular readers of my column know how much I dislike the political party system. This book did nothing to dispel my feelings. In fact, it is a testament to why our political party system is destructive, divisive and poisonous. Politics doesn’t have to be this way, but it is. More than two decades later, little or nothing has been learned.

It’s a story of loyalty, passion, hope, hard work, dedication, and optimism. It’s also a story of back-stabbing, dirty tricks, two-faced betrayal and out and out nastiness. It is, in other words, a story about politics.

Ivan Morgan can be reached at ivan.morgan@gmail.com

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