The left leaning American-born political satirist Andrew Roth (1919 – 2010) produced these handy guides to the Commons personnel from 1955 and this particular issue, which seems to have been hurriedly hammered out on an electric typewriter (it is full of typos) is interesting in that it includes the first long-term Labour cabinet for over a decade and also a few MPs who became prominent in subsequent Tory administrations and who ended up being elevated to the Upper House. It also has something to say on a certain recently departed former PM, then a little known Tory backbencher of some 5 years standing.
Under Political Outlook Margaret Thatcher is described as an 'Able, RIGHT-leaning, suburban, SEMI-LOYALIST.' Under Occupation she is a 'Barrister (taxes); ex-chemical research' and under Traits she is 'intelligent, charming, with a strong will.'
As for Mrs T’s fellow Tory MP, Edward Heath, Roth is spot on. He is described as an 'ambitious, dedicated, pro-European contender' whose traits include being ‘plump, tough, voluble' and an organist.
Labour’s new Defence Minister Denis Healey, a friend of Heath’s at Oxford, is identified by Roth as having similar characteristics. He too is 'Tought'(sic) but 'CENTRE- RIGHT and an 'intellectual politico.' He is also, rather surprisingly, described as a ‘journalist and broadcaster ‘. But Roth, like everyone else, cannot ignore the physical feature of his 'bushy brows' and ‘ruddy’ complexion. In personality he is 'truculent and aloof.'
Two other Tories, with contumelious and geographical associations with Denis, are also colourfully described by Roth. Under 'traits' Commons newbie Geoffrey Howe has this entry: 'chubby; specs; dark wavy hair', while Sir Keith Joseph, Bt is 'nervy, dynamic, pleasant; Jewish.'
But perhaps the most fascinating entry is the one for Enoch Powell (incidentally, pronounced to rhyme with how, not Poe, despite what some argue ) whose parents, according to Roth were both 'Welsh teachers'. Four years before the infamous Rivers of Blood speech, the former professor of Ancient Greek is described as an 'Adam Smith-style crusading rightist', which is an inaccurate assessment of Powell’s economic philosophy. On the professor’s traits, however, Roth is bang-on: 'tortured; tough; pale; moustache'. [R.H.]