Politicians

In view of the forthcoming General Election, here is a selection of remarks on British MPs published by ex-MP Matthew Parris in his ‘Scorn with Extra Bile’ (1995 and later editions).

Denis Healey

He lied and lied and lied.

Guardian headline on the news that former Tory Minister Jonathan Aitkin had withdrawn his libel case against the paper, 1997.

Jail Him!—Aitkin: serial liar, cheat, coward. His marriage is over and he faces a £2 million legal bill. It is not punishment enough. He must be sent to jail…he is unfit to mop the floor in a soup kitchen. He is not just a failure as a politician. He is a failure as a human being.

The Mirror on Aitkin.

Mr Aitkin was duly tried and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Here he ‘ got religion’. He is now a minister at St Matthews church, Stoke Newington. By declaring himself bankrupt he managed to avoid paying the enormous costs awarded against him, though the Guardian suspected him of having more resources than he admitted to.

A semi-house trained polecat.

Michael Foot on Norman Tebbit.

In March 2022 Mr Tebbit ( aka ‘ the Chingford skinhead ‘ ) retired from politics aged 90.

…He was always the sort of Socialist who would do anything for the workers except like them.

Bruce Anderson on Roy Hattersley in The Spectator.

Apparently Hattersley has written three ‘ novels ‘ and several biographies. He retired from politics and is little heard of nowadays.

Harold Wilson was one of the men who ruined post-war Britain. He was a small posturing visionless politician, personally pleasant to his friends and even his enemies, amusing, irreverent and apparently kind. But his public work was a long strung-out disaster, overlaid by the impression at the time that it was at least dextrously accomplished.

Hugo Young, the Guardian, 1995.

The Bertie Wooster of Marxism

Anonymous, about Tony Benn.

A rather harsh verdict on the former Viscount Stansgate, whose son Stephen inherited the title that his father renounced. It’s hard to imagine Bertie Wooster swapping champagne for copious mugs of tea.

A perfectly good second-class chemist, a Beta chemist…she wasn’t an interesting person, except as a Conservative…I would never, if I had amusing, interesting people staying, have thought of asking Margaret Thatcher.

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Visionary Speech by Earl Russell (part 3)

Found – a small folding pamphlet illustrated by Ralph Steadman and published in London by IMG_1869Open Head Press about 1980 at 50p. It came from the estate of the Dutch radical Simon Vinkenoog whose  birthday (18th July)  was the same day as this revolutionary (not to say crazy) speech was given. It has the full text of Earl Russell’s 1978 maiden speech to the House of Lords. John Conrad Russell was the son of Bertrand Russell. After the speech he left the House of Lords and was prevented from re-entering it by ushers. It is said to be the only speech given  in the Lords that is not fully recorded by Hansard. His proposal to give three quarters of the nation’s wealth to teenage girls had some coverage in the papers the next day, but the speech has never appeared in full, apart from in this rare pamphlet, this is the last part: –

Such is the present position of the United States after the war in Vietnam: the whole human race can accuse it every day. The helpless, which were physically or spiritually imprisoned, can then stand up and point the finger; revealed injuries to mankind can now stand up and accuse, with whatever rebuke pleases them. The State authorities of Europe and the United States must now admit that they have done these deeds and practice no longer the harm they have wrought. 

“Let them grant the gift of gifts, the gift of life, and not wait until death has shown his hand. People who have been imprisoned by the CIA in Latin America, or are so imprisoned today, cannot stand up and answer for themselves. It is meaningless to ask them to be gifts, the gift must proceed from you to them. If you want a man to stand up and be a man, and not be a figleaf or a shadow of himself, you have to grant him the spiritual gift to be able to do so, for the American nations of Latin America this is a genuine reality. And the same goes for all classes of oppressed persons in Europe. Reproof, or the concept of rebuke, guilt, and morality, are no use to him. Accused all the time by the pride of life and vigorous gentlemanliness which governs him, the man is all but paralysed. And the young people are accused by older persons, or older established institutions which will not remove themselves, of being pitiless pride of life to older persons, the same law applies. Rebuke, guilt, morality are no use to them. Get the pitilessness removed: and do not cause the older person, or the police, in the name of the older person, to prostitute the younger person out of unforgiveness. The punishment for such conduct is the guillotine. Cause this murder of young people to cease: abolish all institutions or spirits which cause such things. What is not granted at present is the gift of life. The older person is not granted the gift of life to be generous, kind, forgiving, or merciful to the younger person, and the younger person is forced in self-defence to defend himself against the older person. This spirit will have to leave Europe, and Latin America; and so will all the institutions which exemplify it. A relationship of extreme cruelty results, delightful to all those who relish the experience of sadism. The older person can continue at his pleasure to prostitute the younger person unless the younger person can find a way of answering him and get out of the trap. This spirit or happening is confined to England, and to the English spirit. It does not happen to Free Americans who are not subject to the powers of envy ingrained in the British Class System, which gives such spirits power. Free Americans banish the spirit, and when Americans complain of the British Royal Family for being pampered decadent and snobbish, are they not right? The Police Doll which prostitutes people is probably the responsible author of these evils: the Doll of Love, which says to a person: You are excited from Love: you must prostitute yourself. It is the British Doll, which praises and cherishes the British Jesus Christ, which is all right so long as He is praised, but not so funny if he is condemned or out of grace. Continue reading

Memories of Herbert Asquith

Asquith-as-Chancellor-1907Found among papers at Jot HQ is this carbon copy of an anonymous typescript article on the Liberal Prime Minister H. Herbert Asquith (1852—1928). The author—evidently a Liberal supporter and a great fan of Asquith—reveals various tantalising clues as to his identity, but remains a mystery, despite intensive online research by your constant Jotter.

 

As he was a junior member of staff at the Home residential school in Heaton Mersey ( a reform establishment ) from 1905 – 1910 and remembers reading in 1907 ‘ a wrong prognostication in a Manchester newspaper, the Daily Despatch ‘  concerning Asquith’s cabinet, he was probably born in the early eighteen eighties. An online site devoted to the school from around 1893 to 1909 does give the names of the teaching staff  during this period, including the Head Teacher  (a Conservative), who took part in ‘ exciting arguments ‘ with our writer on various hot topics of the day , most notably Lords Reform. However, when the names of the teachers were searched for , the results were disappointing. If our Asquith supporter made some sort of name for himself as a teacher or mover of some kind in Manchester or elsewhere, it seemingly wasn’t big enough to figure online. If those in the Jottosphere can make anything of W. M. Powell, Mr Barlow, Mr Mayall, J. W. Ross, Mr Milburn or J. R. Burns, then we at Jot HQ would like to hear from them. What the Asquith supporter has to say on his hero is rather interesting.

 

He felt that Asquith’s ‘ parliamentary gifts ‘ were equal to those of Gladstone and that the reform of the Lords, against immense opposition,  was his ‘ crowning glory ‘. He revealed that as a young man two of his ambitions were to see Frank Woolley bat for Kent and to hear one of Asquith’s ‘ oratorical triumphs ‘. He fulfilled the first, but was disappointed in the second. However, consolation came in the form of a visit to the City Temple, Holborn, where he heard Asquith deliver an ‘ exquisite ‘ and ‘decidedly witty’ address of ten minutes alongside the Education minister, Donald Maclean. He also conceded that his hero was capable of errors, the most significant of which was his opposition to Proportional Representation, which the first Labour leader, John Burns, had supported. ‘ Had Burns been successful in his quest ‘, our writer declared,’ today there would have been more Liberals in Parliament ‘. A prescient remark, given the long-standing campaign by our present-day Lib Dems ! Continue reading

Visionary Speech by Earl Russell (part 1)

Found – a small folding pamphlet illustrated by Ralph Steadman and published in London by IMG_1869Open Head Press about 1980 at 50p. It has the full text of Earl Russell’s 1978 maiden speech to the House of Lords. John Conrad Russell was the son of Bertrand Russell. After the speech he left the House of Lords and was prevented from re-entering it by ushers. It is said to be the only speech given  in the Lords that is not fully recorded by Hansard. His poposal to give three quarters of the nation’s wealth to teenage girls had some coverage in the papers the next day, but the speech is rather forgotten (until now). Here is the first part. More to follow.

My Lords, I rise to raise the question of penal law and lawbreakers as such and question whether a modern society is wise to speak in terms of lawbreakers at all. A modern nation looks after everybody and never punishes them. If it has a police force at all, the police force is the Salvation Army and gives hungry and thirsty people cups of tea. If a man takes diamonds from a shop in Hatton Garden, you simply give him another bag of diamonds to take with him. I am not joking. Such is the proper social order for modern Western Europe, and all prisons ought to be abolished throughout its territories. Of course the Soviet Union and the United States could include themselves in these reforms too. Kindness and helping people is better than punitiveness and punishing them, a constructive endeavour is better than a destructive spirit. If anybody is in need, you help him, you do not punish him. Putting children into care and other forms of spiritual disinheritance ought to be stopped. Borstal ought to be stopped and the workings of the Mental Health Act which empowers seizure of people by the police when they are acting in a way likely be harmful to themselves or others or to be looked into.

 

What are you? Soulless robots? Schoolmasters who are harsh with schoolboys who later as a result burn down the schoolhouse ought to be more human. Schoolboys in any case are present treated with indescribable severity which crushes their spirits and leaves them unnourished. The police ought to be totally prevented from ever molesting young people at all or ever putting them into jails and raping them, and putting them into brothels or sending them out to serve other people sexually against their wills.

The spirit ought to be left free, and chaining it has injured the creative power of the nation. The young unemployed are not in any way to have become separate from governmental power, but ought to have been given enough to live on out of the national wealth to look after themselves and never ask themselves even to think  of working while there is no work to be had. Continue reading

Vote! Vote! Vote!

IMG_5565Found – a one page  leaflet from the Fabian Society urging people to vote no matter what political party or candidate they supported :

‘…be sure you use your vote somehow. The right to vote was won for you, not by the great statesman whose names are connected with reform bills… but by the persistent agitation of generations of poor political workers who gave up all their spare time and faced loss of employment, imprisonment and sometimes worse, in order to get you a share of the government of the country. Now is your chance to use what cost so much to win. A political battle is about to begin. Choose your side according to your conscience; strike the one blow that the law allows you. There is no excuse for not voting. Even when there is no candidate worth voting for, there is always a candidate worth voting against. Even if you think that both candidates are fools, make the best of it by voting for the opponent of the bigger fool of the two. Whatever you do, don’t stay at home and waste your vote.

 …If you want to be protected from unjust legislation use your vote. You owe it to your fellow citizens and to yourself not to lose your opportunity. It is the selfish, indifferent, the shortsighted, the lazy man who cannot see why he should trouble himself to vote. No sensible man throws away a weapon which has won so much for those who’ve learned how to use it. For all you know, the election maybe decided by your vote alone. How will you feel if you neglect to vote, and find, the day after the poll, the candidate who best represents your interest is beaten by one vote?’

Although the message is ‘just get out there and vote’ it is likely that Fabian  backed radical candidates would profit from a higher turnout as the middle classes, traditionally conservative, were more likely to vote anyway. In an era of gentleman MP’s, some very silly indeed, the advice to vote for the least foolish candidate would have been useful too. Note the way it assumes the voter is a man. Nothing sexist here – the leaflet dates from 1893 and it was not until 1918 that women (over 30) got the vote. Full voting rights came in 1928.

G.B. Shaw—-playwright & enthusiast for alternative energy sources

Shaw 1949Found in a copy of Evelyn August’s entertaining Black-Out Book (1939) is a slightly damaged clipping from the Letters page of the Times newspaper published sometime between 1947 and Shaw’s death in 1950.

In it Shaw voices incredulity at the failure by Government to exploit the energy from waves:-

‘ It is now many years since I arrived at the northern edge of Scotland and looked across the Pentland Firth to the Orkneys, estimating the sea journey at about half an hour. When I embarked on the hardy little steamboat with my car I found out what the Pentland tide rush meant. We were swirled away like corks in a millrace to John O’Groats House and back again through Scapa Flow in three hours and a half; and I was told that it would be a fortnight before my car could be taken back to the mainland.

   When I at last got back I explored the coast along to the west and found there several flumes like the Kyle of Tongue, ready-made by Nature , through which the tide rushed twice a day carrying thousands of tons of sheer power both ways. Continue reading

A Pre-First World War European Federation formed on Co-operative principles

waechter-sir-max-picOn June 12th 1913, sixty years before the UK joined the EEC, and 103 years before it voted to leave it, The New Age, a well-known Socialist weekly, published a prescient article by one of its frequent contributors, Joseph Finn (1865 – 1945), a former tailor who, according to one source, became ‘one of the first Jewish labour leaders in Britain.’ In it Finn put forward a radical economic alternative to the political vision of a ‘United States of Europe’ that Sir Max Waechter had outlined in a recent issue of The Fortnightly Review.

On the eve of a possible war between Britain and Germany Waechter had argued that there were no political, racial or dynastic reasons why the two nations should not join as the prime movers of a larger European Union. Finn, however suggested that the basis for any such federation should not be political, but economic. Germany and Britain were in direct economic competition with one another and therefore were unlikely to cooperate within a proposed political union, but might even go to war in furtherance of their own economic ambitions. Finn continued:

‘If nations were not afraid of competition they would not surround themselves with tariff walls. England is no exception, though she is a Free Trade country. English free trade originated in a period when England was the workshop of the world. On the one hand, she had no rivals; on the other hand, she stood in need of cheap food for her factory hands. Such economic conditions were the natural mother of the political institution of Free Trade. Now, having lost her monopoly in manufacture, and she being compelled to face formidable rivals, we see growing up a political tendency towards Protection. Thus we see clearly the truth of the sociological law, that the political structure of society is the outcome of the economic structure. Continue reading

Leon Gambetta’s crisis

Leon Gambetta—‘ the grand orateur et homme d’Etat’.

So reads the printed label stuck on the back of this carte de visite by a French dealer sometime early in the twentieth century. It is indeed a ‘ curieuse piece ‘, as the dealer avers. Gambetta has addressed in pencil, above his printed name, the following remark to an unidentified friend or colleague:

‘Le crise dures toujours, impossible de mettre le nez dehors…’
(The crisis is lasting for ages, impossible to stick ones nose outside…)

Historians might debate what crisis Gambetta is referring to. There were doubtless several in the tempestuous political career of one of France’s greatest heroes. But the date of 12th December that Gambetta adds at the end of his message might offer a clue. In Paris from 23rd November to 15th December 1877 the improbably named President McMahon presided over a ministry that excluded all ‘parliamentary hands‘ like Gambetta and his democratic colleagues. During this period it was felt that MacMahon was planning a coup d’etat and this crisis came to a head around December 10th and 11th. The idea was to deny power to Gambetta, who may have felt that his life was in danger during this time. Excluding Gambetta worked for a few years, but eventually, in 1881, he was asked to form a ministry. This lasted for just 66 days.

Around late November 1882 Gambetta was shot in the stomach, but this was an accident. However, it may have contributed to the stomach cancer that eventually claimed his life, on 31st December 1882.

[R.R.]  

Frances Willard—nineteenth century American feminist extraordinaire

Here is a signed photo of that amazing woman, Frances Willard ( no relation of Dolf !!), an icon of American feminism, who almost single – handedly organised the suffragist movement in the States from the mid nineteenth century until her comparatively early death (probably partly from sheer hard work) in 1898 aged 58. As a committed proto-Socialist and president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Movement (WCTU) for 19 years she lobbied on an enormous range of progressive social issues, including the voting rights of all women over the age of 21, federal aid for education, free school lunches, unions for workers, an eight-hour working day, municipal sanitation, national transportation, anti-rape laws and protections against child abuse. On the issue of female suffrage she argued that women could only be safe from male violence in their own homes if they were seen as ‘companions and counsellors of men’ rather than their playthings.
Willard made several tours of the UK to promote her ideals and it was probably on one of these appearances in October 1895 that she signed as ‘your affectionate sister’ this mass-produced photo of herself. Three years later she was dead. [R.R.]

David Lloyd George

From the papers of L.R. Reeve*. His account of a major figure, much chronicled elsewhere, but with some unique insights as Reeve saw him speak many times, even in parliament.

DAVID LLOYD GEORGE

In some ways Lloyd George is a difficult subject, as so many people have heard the same stories from various sources, there is always the possibility that many have been heard on previous occasions.
  I heard him first, in the House of Commons during the First World War, and unexpectedly the topic under discussion was an increase in the charges for alcoholic drinks. I remember little about the speeches except that prices would be increased for the miner who wanted to wash down the coal-dust with many libations, and that for the purposes of the Act Guinness would be in the same category as beer.
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Lord Haldane

Found among the Reeve* papers this short memoir of Lord Haldane - i.e. Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane KT, OM, PC, KC, FRS, FBA, FSA (1856 – 1928)  an influential British Liberal Imperialist and later Labour politician, lawyer and philosopher. As with many of Reeve's pieces he had never met the man but had seen him give speeches at congresses and describes his speaking style well. He writes '...many have known have not known me. All of them I have seen, most of them I have heard, and some of them have sought information, even advice from me." For Reeve the unifying qualification all these people have is '… some subtle emanation of personality we call leadership, and which can inspire people to actions  unlikely to be undertaken unless prompted by a stronger will.'

LORD HALDANE

When one begins to delve into the pages of great books of reference, such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, there are times one stops at a certain page and reads with an increasing sense of wonder and respect. I was looking for Haldane, and as I read the wonder grew. So this was the man treated so contemptuously by most of us during the First World War!
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Henry Philpotts—that devil of a bishop

If the baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells out of Blackadder was a grotesque fiction—the reign , centuries later, of Henry Philpotts, one of whose letters is reproduced here,  is something we might associate more with  tyrannous Tudor bishops than with their supposedly anodyne Victorian successors.

Philpotts (1778 - 1869 ) was Bishop of Exeter between 1830 and 1869—the longest episcopacy since the 14th century. One of 23 children of an innkeeper, he is said to have been elected a scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, at just 13, and  graduated five years later. In 1802 he was ordained and by 1809 had held four livings, cementing in that time  a lucrative connection with the diocese of Durham, where he became a Canon. Some idea of his aggrandising nature may be gained by the fact that after his election to the bishopric of Exeter in 1830 he asked that he be allowed to retain his former living of Stanhope, Co Durham which, due to the value of church land in such coal-rich territory, was then worth the enormous sum of £4,000 p.a.—amazingly £1,000 more than his new bishopric. This happy arrangement was refused, but Philpotts was permitted to keep a residentiary canonry at Durham, which brought with it a similar sum to that which he had lost, and which he retained until his death. The distance between Durham and Exeter is around 350 miles, which raises the question as to how often he, as Bishop of Exeter, was able to satisfactorily fulfil his obligations as a residentiary canon at Durham.

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Richard Nixon v JFK at the 1960 Presidential election—an astrologer’s prediction

In the December 1959 issue of the British magazine Prediction is a remarkable attempt by an astrologer named Katina Theodossiou to predict the political careers of the two contenders for the imminent 1960 Presidential election.

Kennedy

By temperament he will be a pacifist, not a war-monger; but he would not be inclined to veto armaments, nuclear or otherwise, because of this. He has a very realistic streak blended with his well-publicized religious principles. Mr Kennedy will believe that the best way to assure peace is to remain strong.

His capacity for compromise (a Libran trait) would lie in his responding, within limits, to any concessions made by the Communist bloc, but he would not go the whole hog, nor would he initiate concessions…For all his instinctive adaptability, Mr Kennedy’s shrewdness would come badly off if any sudden crisis were precipitated upon him. Taken unawares, he would react over-hastily; the façade of strength, of imperturbability, would disintegrate; his decisions under such strain would tend to rashness…

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Snapshot of W.E. Gladstone

Found - a snapshot of W.E. Gladstone (1809 - 1898) the original 'Grand Old Man' (G.O.M.) at his country seat Hawarden Castle.  He was Prime Minister 4 times, resigning finally at the age of 84. At the time of this shot (1877) he was out of office. Written on the back of the photo (found in a book by  W.N.P. Barbellion) is 'Gladstone Centenary, December 29th 1909' (crossed out). Unique photo of late Rt. Hon. W.E. Gladstone taken at Hawarden in 1877.' Under this is a stamp 'E.J. Lavell 115 Bedford Hill, Balham S.W.' This is presumably the shop that processed the photo. An online image search reveals another fuller shot (on flickr) from the same session  revealing that the implement to his right is an axe and showing his straw boater on the ground beside him. There is  a note stating that he was relaxing after chopping wood.

The Worst Government for 100 years?

This rant on Harold Wilson's Labour Government came from the Wells (Somerset) Conservative Association. It was a one page flyer printed in blue ink and had first appeared in The Daily Telegraph. Anthony Lejeune, a highly competent journalist and author is not gifted with a Wikipedia page but there are traces of his career from a search on the site. He wrote a history of London clubs and has written about Arthur Machen and Fr. Brocard Sewell. He has written about Ernest Bramah in The Tablet which may mean he is a Catholic and almost certainly a book collector…the piece (very slightly  truncated) is very much of its time (circa 1966). Politicians are no longer condemned for wearing the wrong clothes at parties.

The Worst Government for 100 years? by Anthony Lejeune.
Do you remember George Brown on television, flanked by leaders of industry and the trade unions, flourishing his fatuous Declaration of Intent? Do you remember the commentators solemnly telling us that this marked a watershed in the history of British industrial relations? And do you remember any of those commentators apologising to us since for having been taken in by so naive a piece of nonsense? I don't.

Do you remember the National Plan?
I got into trouble with the BBC for treating it, the week it was published, with the disrespect which it soon proved to deserve. I'm still waiting for an apology or even an admission that I was right.

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H.H. Asquith (Earl of Oxford & Asquith)

[More from the papers of L.R. Reeve* who writes:] I remember, somewhere around 1907, reading a wrong prognostication in a Manchester newspaper, the 'Daily Despatch', about Lloyd George, Grey, Runciman, McKenna, Birrell, Samuel, Haldane, Morley and Winston Churchill.
  
Nine names of nine outstanding men who, under Henry Herbert Asquith, formed one of England's strongest cabinets ever known. The cabinet was so powerful, said the prophetic journalist, that Asquith might never be able to control so formidable a group of parliamentarians. We all of course know that he did, and that by 1914 some far -reaching acts of parliament had been passed by the government.
  
  One of the early acts, causing the lengthy, bitter 'ninepence for fourpence' controversy and angry snarls about stamp-licking can never be forgotten by octogenarians, and I cannot believe that widespread antagonism towards individual members of parliament today is as vindictive as that of my young days; and as yet parliament hasn't witnessed the unprecedented scene encountered by Asquith when he rose to speak on the bill abolishing the veto of the House of Lords. For nearly an hour he stood almost unheard against the continuous roar of anger from the opposition. Finally he sat down defeated by the pandemonium. Later the incident was known as 'the Pothouse Brawl'.

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The Potato Man and the MP —a First World War Story

Discovered in the library of descendants of geneticist Dr. Redcliffe Salaman, author of The History and Social Influence of the Potato (1949 ) is the final volume of an Elzevier Press  edition of Lucan’s Pharsalia,  dated 1671.

It’s fitting that the poem treats of the civil war between Julius Caesar and the forces of the Senate headed by Pompey the Great, because it was found among the rubble of Arras, blitzed by the Germans in 1916, by a soldier, Major Daniel Hopkin, MC, who on returning home to England presented it to Salaman’s son Raphael (then aged about 10 ), who just happened to be one of his  private pupils. On further investigation, the friendship between Salaman senior (b 1874) and Hopkin, his junior by 12 years, becomes even more intriguing.

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The McWhirters v. the unions (1974)

Ross & Norris McWhiter, founders of Guinness Book of Records

In the 1970s a phalanx of right-leaning protests groups emerged in Britain antagonistic to the trade unions and overwhelmingly drawn from Conservative voters. The Current Affairs Press was set-up by Ross McWhirter in 1974 with the ‘express purpose of fighting the unions.'  A flyer by McWhirter entitled Standing up to the Unions, reveals working capital of £100,000 and their ability to print three million newspapers a day in the event of a national printers strike. It also describes operation ‘Roadlift’, designed to take effect in the event of a national rail strike. In an experiment in Brighton, two hundred car owners offered 700 seats for more than one thousand commuters who applied for transport facilities. The Current Affairs Press, though officially non-partisan, pledged its support to the new leader of the Opposition: ‘Mrs Margaret Thatcher deserves, and must be given full support not only of the Conservative party but of anti-socialists everywhere.'

Out of it grew The National Association for Freedom (NAFF) possibly the most successful anti-trade union campaign group, attracting some 20,000 members within a year. The flyer, like much political ephemera, is oddly rare but we were sent one by an offshore jotwatcher (PDJ) who found a perfect example in between the pages of an antiquarian atlas. This was a sort of British Tea Party avant la lettre-- the difference with the later American group being that the Roadlift crowd would have  actually drunk tea…

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The MP’s Chart 1964 (Andrew Roth)

Andrew Roth

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.

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The real Downton Abbey

Every fan of ITV’s Downton Abbey will know that is filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, the ancestral home of the Earls of Carnarvon. The third Earl built the present Castle, but it was his son, the fourth Earl (1831 – 90), who in his second term as a Tory Secretary of State for the Colonies achieved notoriety as the man who, through his policies of the enforced confederation of South Africa, indirectly caused the Boer Wars.

Earl of Carnarvon ('Twitters')

Carnarvon was clearly not a man to be trifled with. In January 1864 he had a number of fliers printed and circulated to his neighbours, informing them that 'the want of definite regulations for  admission to or through' his park had obliged him to revise the 'rules'. One of those who received a flier* was the Rector of Highclere, Philip Menzies Sankey, a graduate of Oxford who claimed among his friends, the influential proto-aesthete, Walter Pater. Presumably Rev. Sankey had been obliged to traverse the park in order to get to his church and so a copy of the new 'rules' that governed access would have been useful. Unfortunately, Sankey’s copy of the amended rules, together with his pass-card, which were originally included with the flier, are now missing, which means that we don’t know what these new rules were. However,  I’m sure that 'Twitters', Carnarvon’s nickname on account of his various nervous tics, was scrupulously fair to his neighbours.

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