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).

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Guardian headline on the news that former Tory Minister Jonathan Aitkin had withdrawn his libel case against the paper, 1997.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

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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Rant against War (Charles Richet)

An impressivee  rant against war by the Nobel Prize winning French scientist Charles Richet published about 1925 in his book Idiot Man or The Follies of Mankind (L’Homme Stupide.) A now rare and undeservedly forgotten book in which Richet seems to see ahead to all the millions of deaths in wars of the next 90 years...

  When I evoke the vision of war–bloody, cruel, hideous war– burning, shuddering pictures instantly swarm into my mind, so numerous and vivid that I am dazed by them.
  Thanks to war, the proofs of human ineptitude are so blatant that any words could only weaken them. But I shall do my best to dam this overwhelming flood of ideas and to calm my indignation.
  It is futile to reiterate that war means death, death, and yet again death. But it is not these countless deaths that are my chief charge against it. After all, we must all die someday. A little sooner, a little later, what does it matter?
  There are fifteen hundred million human beings on the face of the globe, and glorious war of 1914–18 was only able to destroy fifteen millions. That's nothing, for these fifteen millions represent a mere fraction of mankind; one per cent, which is next to nothing. Two years of increased fertility will make up for this holocaust. And I am almost tempted to use the words of Napoleon, who murmured with a kindly smile as he gazed on all the corpses which his vain glory had piled up on the field of Eylau: "One night in Paris will make up for all of this."

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