Healy and Cannon

Philip Ferguson PLF13 at SPAMstudent.canterbury.ac.nz
Sun Nov 28 19:46:35 MST 1999

Paul Flewers wrote:

> Back in the late 1940s, when Gerry Healy was being promoted in the
> British Trotskyist movement by James Cannon, he started talking in a
> fake American accent. It was a source of great amusement -- and
> bemusement -- amongst his comrades at the time, and even today old Trots
> here still occasionally bring it up in conversation when the old
> gangster is talked about.

Well, it's not just among whacko Trots that this happens.

Jim Bolger, the prime minister of NZ from 1990-1997, when he was overthrown by a coup
within his party, used to have the unnerving habit of takling on the accents of
whatever foreign leaders he happened to be with at the time.  It caused a great deal
of mirth in NZ, and after he was overthrown by Jenny Shipley and gotten out of the
country by being made ambassador to the US, the pieces in the news on his political
career all focussed in on this peculiar habit.

If he was meeting some high-powered US diplomat, then at the press conference Bolger
would start speaking with a slight American accent.  If he had just met the prime
minister of Japan, then he'd speak with a slight Japanese accent (which was especially
bizarre).  In fact, I think the first time he did it with an Asian leader, some people
thought he was being insulting, if not downright racist.  But it turned out it was
just a weird habit that he had irrespective of the country of origin of whoever he was
talking to.

Bolger was probably the dimmest leader NZ has had in the twentieth century as well,
his nickname was 'Spud', so lacking much between the ears he just took on whatever
ideas and personality (and accent) he had last been in contact with.


More information about the Marxism mailing list