Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Country Life

The death of 101-year-old Bert Hazell, Britain's oldest ex-MP and Labour MP for North Norfolk from 1964 to 1970, reminds us of what might be called the Rural Myth, that the Tories have some sort of ancestral right to represent the countryside in Parliament. This is contrary to the plain facts of history.

Moreover, in the "long nineteenth century" glory days of the old Liberal Party, and in the early days of the Labour Party (wholly mistakenly assumed to have been a purely urban phenomenon), those MPs returned by agricultural workers and smallholders, and those trade union leaders (often the same people, such as Joseph Arch) who represented those interests, were frequently more radical than their urban-based brethren in demanding democracy, liberty and social justice. In this, they fully represented the views of their constituents and of their members.

And such views are still widely and deeply held in rural Britain. Indeed, much of today's lack of radicalism in the face of rampant poverty, ignorance, ill health, squalor and homelessness, unemployment (however disguised), war, and anti-democratic practice is attributable to the silencing of those voices.

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