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The Guardian        p. 13        2 July 2004


L: Gordon Brown

Chancellor of the Exchequer (1997-2007)


R: Tony Charles Lynton Blair

British Prime Minister (1997-2007)


















The Guardian        14 May 2004


Prime Minister Tony Blair

















Steve Bell



Blair v Brown: the public and the private disputes

· Fresh demand for exit date

· No 11 anger at PM letter

· No 10 intervenes in spending

· New pensions row

Patrick Wintour, political editor        p. 29        The Guardian

Wednesday May 10, 2006



L to R: Gordon Brown, Prime Minister Tony Blair



















Tony Blair delivers his speech

at the Labour party conference in Brighton.


Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA

'We are the changemakers.' Blair urges ever-faster reform

PM silent on handover.

But Cherie tells BBC: 'Darling, it's a long way in the future'

Michael White Political editor        The Guardian        p. 1        28.9.2005



Cartoon: Martin Rowson

The Guardian        p. 29        28.9.2005



Prime Minister Tony Blair

Related > Labour Party conference, Brighton

















Martin Rowson

The Guardian        p. 25        29 September 2005



M: Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

Background > Labour Party conference, Brighton

Minister apologises for ejecting party veteran over Iraq

David Hencke and Joseph Harker        The Guardian        Thursday September 29, 2005






















battle for power






power vacuum





the powers that be










separation of powers










































divide and rule












Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition agreement











caretaker government





governance        2009





















police state






welfare state








war on welfare






nanny state
















the right






to the right











rightwing thinktank















the left






the British left






Tony Benn (...)

was the figurehead

of the British left

for a generation.

















leftist        USA


















































freedom of speech






free speech












rousing speech

































parliamentary democracy








representative democracies




































troll state



























Britain's "unwritten constitution"

of acts of Parliament, common law and conventions


Push for written constitution        2004-2007


Gordon Brown's

route map for constitutional reform  










































































































civil liberties

















politics (+ Vsingular)















‘Alice in Wonderland’ politics










green politics










public trust in politics








restore faith in politics








The Red Box


Sam Coates

is Chief Political Correspondent for The Times,

based in the Houses of Parliament.

Red Box is a rolling insider guide to Westminster










party politics








politics and terrorism > counter-terrorism policy























political landscape






political freedoms






religious freedom






political will





political deadlock





political battlefield





political Armageddon





political savvy





political blog






political commentators





commentariat / political bloggers






political elites












foreign policy






foreign policy > appease






policy maker

















ian-birrell-how-our-politicians-failed-to-stop-the-rise-of-the-far-right-1700206.html - 16 March 2014










shrewd politician








politicians on all sides








the political class










political player



































































woo the middle classes








class war
























plot        2009






topple        2009






oust        2009


































cigarette / tobacco lobby




































be made a scapegoat



















white elephant











red herring




















hand power





hand over











take over















press officer

















poll // survey ( ≠ election)



























The Guardian        p.10        29 June 2004














































leadership challenge





leadership bid





leadership coup





Labour party leadership














defect to N



















James Purnell's letter

The Times


added 6 June 2009

























quit / stand down






resign / step down













walk out











walk away






stand aside










resignation's speech






resignation letter






















spin one's way off the hook





spin doctor





































cash for honours        2006-2007

















abuse of perks
















spokesman / spokeswoman





























political activist > Solly Kaye    1913-2005






eco war






























welfare agenda






top of the agenda















leaked document








white paper
























white elephant














red herring










red tape

















cross party support


















endorse / back




















hype up





run a smear campaign





deal with N





stand on N





toe the line





make it clear










turn turtle

















unveil proposals





elected regional assembly















be dissolved




















pressure group





















MPs' expenses:

The Telegraph's investigation,

The Expenses Files,

into how politicians

- from Gordon Brown's Cabinet

to backbenchers of all parties -

exploit the system

of parliamentary allowances

to subsidise their lifestyles

and multiple homes        2009












be held accountable for N





























mayor of London        UK / USA

































































peace movement















Trotskyist group





Communist party

























single currency





EU membership





join the EU















European charter


























Northern Ireland





Sinn Féin




































"You've never had it so good"


1957: Britons 'have never had it so good'


The British Prime Minister,

Harold Macmillan,

has made an optimistic speech

telling fellow Conservatives

that "most of our people

have never had it so good".










"the enemy within"

But Maggie still wanted

a showdown with a major union.


She got her wish in 1984 when the battle mode

she had recently adopted for the Falklands conflict

was directed towards a new combatant:

Arthur Scargill, who led his loyal troops

into the trap she set.


As she famously - and controversially -

framed the dispute at the time,

"We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands.

We always have to be aware of the enemy within,

which is much more difficult to fight

and more dangerous to liberty."










"Labour is not working"        1978










Mr Blair promised to focus on

"education, education, education,"

after his landslide victory in 1997










Tony Blair's landmark pledge

to be 'tough on crime,

tough on the causes of crime'.













John Major > Back to basics


In 1993,

the Major governmen

- perhaps fatally -

launched the 'Back to Basics' campaign.

It was notorious for its high moral tone

and sparked intense media interest

in MPs' private lives.











Margaret Thatcher's most famous soundbites / speeches











Margaret Thatcher > "the lady's not for turning"        1981        USA


















Guardian Special Report > Politics past












Corpus of news articles


UK > Democracy, Politics > Politics




The evidence is clear.

Labour isn't working


Sunday September 21 2008
The Observer
This article appeared in the Observer
on Sunday September 21 2008
on p40 of the Comment section.
It was last updated at 00:02
on September 21 2008.


A disorderly rebellion by backbench Labour MPs and minor ministers last week failed to provoke a formal challenge to Gordon Brown at the party's conference. But there will still be urgent discussion of the leadership in Manchester. The only question is whether the debate will be conducted in hushed whispers in hotel corridors or encouraged by speakers from the conference platform.

Senior Labour figures think the party must pursue a radically different agenda, which means a change of leader. So will they hide their views, impart them to journalists on condition of anonymity or share them openly with the country?

The natural inclination is towards a pretence of unity. Cabinet ministers have warned that voters will punish a party that obsesses about its internal affairs in turbulent economic times. They are right, but their warnings are also beside the point. The introspection cannot be halted by fiat. Besides, voters are already deeply hostile to Gordon Brown.

That is proven beyond doubt by a poll of unprecedented scale revealed in today's Observer - the most comprehensive account to date of Labour's woeful position. A survey of marginal seats, conducted for the Politics-Home website, paints a harrowing picture for the government. On its current trajectory, Labour will emerge from the next election with 160 seats, fewer than they won under Michael Foot in 1983. Meanwhile, any belief that Tory support might wilt is exposed as a delusion. Those who plan to vote Conservative are firmer in their resolve than those who might back the government. Things could get still worse for Labour.

The party might hope its position will recover under Gordon Brown, especially if the economic outlook improves. But the evidence suggests otherwise. The Prime Minister has already tried several times to regain the public's affection, and failed. Even if people accept that the financial crisis is not entirely of Mr Brown's making, they do not want him in charge of the recovery. The poll data are clear: Labour under its current leader is bust.

The only possible reason to stick with Mr Brown is fear that ousting him would just accelerate the march towards defeat. A new leader would face enormous pressure to seek a mandate from the country. Labour will need reassurance that there is a candidate with a plausible chance of taking on David Cameron before starting a process likely to end with a premature general election.

Opinion polls give little guidance on that front. None of the mooted challengers, not even David Miliband, has sufficient public profile for voters to envisage them taking charge of the country. Candidates will only be evaluated in earnest when they have signalled unambiguously that they want the job.

If anyone in the cabinet believes they have the requisite charisma and political vision to lead Labour away from disaster they need to prove it. This week's conference is the place to start. They might be tempted to hold back, for fear that impassioned speeches, full of grand ambition, will be read as overt disloyalty to Mr Brown. But dull rhetoric with half-hearted statements of support for the current leader will also be seen as disloyal, only cowardly to boot. If, however, no one in the cabinet wants to be Prime Minister soon, a simple declaration of that fact is the surest way to unify the party.

The worst scenario for Labour would be a stage-managed charade of loyalty, followed by a resumption of underground agitation; despair disguised as unity.

There may be no ballot, but there is still a contest this week in Manchester. The prospective candidates are on display. They face a clear choice: set out your stall or put away your ambition. Labour is desperate for inspiring leadership. If after 11 years in power neither the Prime Minister nor anyone in the cabinet can provide it, defeat will not only be certain, it will be deserved.

The evidence is clear. Labour isn't working,






The battle over government

that has raged since Magna Carta


Published: 04 July 2007
The Independent
By Ben Chu


Yesterday Mr Brown referred to the British Constitution as "unwritten". That is misleading. A more accurate description would be "un-codified". In common with the citizens of other countries, subjects of the British Crown enjoy certain legally prescribed rights and freedoms. And like the governments of other nations, British administrations are bound by the chains of law and convention.

The difference is that the various Royal Charters, Acts of Parliament and legal rulings that make up the framework of proper British governance have never been gathered and written down in a single legal document in the style of, for example, the Constitution of the US.

Up until the 19th century, the history of the British constitution was, in large part, the history of the struggle for power between the monarch and the aristocracy. In 1215 a coalition of disgruntled barons forced King John to sign the Magna Carta (or Great Charter), left, guaranteeing the right for freemen to be judged, not by the king, but their peers. The monarch was also forced to pledge that "to no one will we deny or delay right or justice", a significant undertaking at a time when rulers enjoyed power unchecked by formal commitments.

The dispute over the limits of royal power rumbled on over the following centuries but it exploded again with great force in the 17th century during the reign of King Charles I. A period of turmoil culminated in the so-called "Glorious Revolution". In 1688, a collection of peers deposed James II and invited Prince William of Orange and his wife Mary to become joint sovereigns on the condition that they acquiesce to some rigid restrictions on the power of the monarchy and guarantees of the rights of parliament. This settlement was enshrined in the Bill of Rights, which guaranteed freedom of speech, frequent parliaments and free elections. This settlement, perhaps more than anything else before or since, was the basis for our system of parliamentary sovereignty. But still only a minority of rich men were entitled to vote. It took a succession of reform acts to widen the franchise.

    The battle over government that has raged since Magna Carta, I, 4.7.2007,






May 3 1997


The history man's 'noble causes'


From The Guardian archive


May 3 1997

The Guardian


This was our Velvet Revolution, and yesterday the population went wild, British-style. People were seen breaking into half-smiles in public while reading the papers; some thought about making eye contact in the Tube, then remembered themselves and drew back.

The extent of Labour's landslide meant that comparisons with 1945 were inevitable. But there was no repe tition of the remark attributed to a lady diner at the Savoy as news of Clement Attlee's triumph filtered through: 'But this is terrible. They have elected a Labour Government and the country will never stand for that.'

Mr Attlee could never have entered Downing Street with one-hundredth of the studied triumphalism of Tony Blair, or one-thousandth of his elan. The new Prime Minister omitted to drape himself in a purple toga, dragging the defeated general in chains behind his chariot. His symbolism experts must have lost their nerve. Instead, he progressed on foot from the Thatcher Memorial Gates to No. 10, working a cheering throng, who had all been given flags and placards with suspiciously similar handwriting.

This was the piece de resistance of Labour's campaign show, the final celebratory burst of electoral fireworks. At least one hopes it is. There is a lingering suspicion that the next five years could be like this. It worked all right for Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton; and Blair is the first British leader charismatic enough to make the comparisons sensible. He refrained from quoting Francis of Assisi like Mrs Thatcher. He said he would lead 'a government of practical measures in pursuit of noble causes'. Then he said there had been enough talking. 'It is time now to do.'

But it wasn't. It was time for another photo opportunity. The children posed, and Tony and Cherie hugged and waved, and hugged again. Finally, the door shut behind them, and Blair began that mystical process of governance of which he — until that moment — knew as little as the rest of us. The rest of us, meanwhile, tried to come to terms with the magnitude of what had occurred. It was not easy. But it really has happened. The long years of Toryism are history.

Outside Downing Street, London looked as it always does on a warm spring day, more frazzled than sunlit. The West End was clogged with traffic, and there were beggars on the Strand.

You can't blame the Government. Not yet. Reality will intrude soon enough: every one knows that, the Prime Minister better than anyone. But for one shining moment everything does seem bright and new again. Please God, don't let Labour ruin it.

From The Guardian archive > May 3 1997 > The history man's 'noble causes',
G, 17.5.2007, Republished 3.5.2007, p. 34,






On This Day - July 25, 1969


From The Times Archive


Imprisoned for smuggling leaflets into the USSR,

Gerald Brooke was exchanged for the Soviet agents

Peter and Helen Kroger


LOOKING gaunt and pale after four years in Soviet gaols, Mr Gerald Brooke flew home yesterday “numbed” — to use his own word — by the shock of his sudden release.

Speaking haltingly at first, he explained that he had to get used again to speaking English — “and to seeing so many people”. Half-an-hour earlier, after stepping from a Soviet Ilyushin 62 aircraft, he was reunited with his wife Barbara in a private lounge at Heathrow airport.

Wearing his old grammar school tie and the same charcoal grey suit in which he was arrested by the KGB, the Soviet secret police, in April, 1956, Mr Brooke, who is 32 and was a lecturer in Russian, talked with reporters before being driven in a Foreign Office car to his home in Finchley. He said the Russians had only broken the news of his release 24 hours earlier — exactly four years to the day after they had gaoled him. A Soviet official said they had “splendid” news for him. “Tomorrow”, he was informed, “you will be in England, and tomorrow evening at home with your wife and family.”

Mr Brooke was visibly bewildered by his sudden switch from the harshness of a Soviet gaol to the brightly lit interview room. Asked about his health he answered: “I am not well at all.” He had been suffering from an inflammation of the lower colon which had been “aggravated by the sort of food I had to eat in prison”.

All attempts to get Mr Brooke to speak about conditions in prison and the Russians’ treatment of him failed. All Mr Brooke would say about his prison conditions was that “they were not particularly soft”.

    From The Times Archives > On This Day - July 25, 1969,
    The Times, 25.7.2005,






On This Day - August 5, 1963


From The Times Archive


Dr Stephen Ward, the osteopath at the centre

of the Profumo scandal,

died after taking an overdose at a friend's flat


AN inquest will be held at Hammersmith on Friday on Dr Stephen Ward, who died in hospital on Saturday after having been in a coma for 80 hours following an overdose of drugs. A post-mortem examination is expected to take place today. Dr Ward was found unconscious at the flat in Chelsea of Mr Noel Howard-Jones on the last day of his trial at the Central Criminal Court. Mr Justice Marshall decided to complete his summing up in his absence. When the jury found him guilty on two charges of living on immoral earnings the judge postponed sentence.

In an unsigned note addressed to Mr Howard-Jones which was found at the flat, Dr Ward said: “Dear Noel, I am sorry I had to do this here! It’s really more than I can stand — the horror day after day at the court and in the streets.” Another extract read: “I do hope I haven’t let people down too much. I tried to do my stuff but after Marshall's summing up I've given up all hope . . . I’m sorry to disappoint the vultures — I only hope this has done the job. Delay resuscitation as long as possible.”

One of Dr Ward’s last actions was to telephone the Home Office official who is helping Lord Denning in his inquiry. A statement from Miss Christine Keeler’s solicitor said that she was very distressed by the news of the death of Dr Ward. “Under these circumstances,” the statement added, “she does not intend to carry out the plans for her to take part in a film based on her life.”

From The Times Archives > On This Day - August 5, 1963, The Times, 5.8.2005, 






On This Day - May 12, 1956


From The Times Archive


In 1957 the colony Gold Coast became,

as Ghana, the first black African nation

to be granted independence from Britain


A FIRM date for granting the Gold Coast independence within the Commonwealth will be given by her Majesty’s Government, if a reasonable majority for such a step is obtained in the local Legislature after a general election. This promise was given in a statement made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the House of Commons yesterday.

Mr Lennox-Boyd said the present constitution marked the last stage before the assumption by the Gold Coast of full responsibility for its own affairs.

Since the present constitution was introduced there had arisen a dispute about the form of constitution which the Gold Coast should have when it achieved independence within the Commonwealth. Efforts had been made to bring about a reconciliation between the major parties, but they had so far met with no success.

“I have been in close touch with the Prime Minister of the Gold Coast on these matters,” Mr Lennox-Boyd continued. “I have told Dr Nkrumah that if a general election is held, her Majesty’s Government will be ready to accept a motion calling for independence within the Commonwealth passed by a reasonable majority in a newly elected Legislature, and then to declare a firm date for this purpose.

“Full membership of the Commonwealth is, of course, a different question, and is a matter for consultation between all existing members of the Commonwealth.”

From The Times Archives > On This Day - May 12, 1956, The Times, 12.5.2005,






July 5 1948


From The Guardian archive


Mr Bevan's bitter attack on Tories


July 5 1948
The Guardian


"The eyes of the world are turning to Great Britain. We now have the moral leadership of the world, and before many years are over we shall have people coming here as to a modern Mecca, learning from us in the twentieth century as they learned from us in the seventeenth," said Mr Aneurin Bevan, Minister of Health, at a Labour rally in Manchester yesterday.

The meeting was called to celebrate the anniversary of Labour's accession to power. The Labour party, he said, would win the 1950 election because successful Toryism and an intelligent electorate were a contradiction in terms. His own experiences ensured that no amount of cajolery could eradicate from his heart a deep burning hatred of the Tory party. "So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin," he went on. "They condemned millions of people to semi-starvation. I warn you young men and women, do not listen to what they are saying, do not listen to the seductions of Lord Woolton. They have not changed, or if they have they are slightly worse."

The Government decided the issues in accordance with the best principles, he said: "The weak first; and the strong next." Mr. Churchill preferred a free-for-all, but what was Toryism except organised Spivvery?

As a result of controls, the well-to-do had not been able to build houses, but ordinary men and women were moving into their own homes. Progress could not be made without pain. People who campaigned against controls were conducting an immoral campaign. There was a kind of schizophrenia in the country, so that people reading newspapers and hearing talk in luxury hotels got an entirely different conception of what was happening, which did not square with the statistics. The bodies and spirits of the people were being built up — but the Government's efforts could not be sustained except by the energies and labour of the people. Production must be raised to make the new legislative reforms a living reality.

The Government never promised in 1945 that everybody was going to be better off. It knew some were worse off to-day, but it always intended they should be.

[Bevan's "vermin" remark — one of the most famous jibes in politics — was adroitly turned against the Attlee government by Tory speakers, who pretended it insulted their voters rather than policy makers. However, Bevan merely retorted that men of Celtic fire were needed to bring about great reforms like the new NHS. That was why, he explained, Welshmen were put in charge instead of "the bovine and phlegmatic Anglo-Saxons."]

From The Guardian archive > July 5 1948 > Mr Bevan's bitter attack on Tories, G,
republished 5.7.2007, p. 30,






June 21, 1945


Labour's 'great moral purpose' in 1945


From the Guardian archive


Thursday June 21, 1945


Declaring that the Labour party were in the most deadly earnest in their purpose, Sir Stafford Cripps, in a broadcast last night, appealed to youth to help to drive forward fearlessly into a new and better world.

"We need your enthusiasm and vitality, linked with that of your comrades the world over, if we are to break with the evil ways and outworn traditions of the past.

"During the war all our resources have been put at the disposal of the nation. They had to be or we could never have planned their most efficient use and so win the war.

"Listen to this roll-call of the unemployed and think what it meant in human suffering: 1932, 2,800,000; 1934, 2,200,000; 1936, 1,800,000; 1938, 900,000 - and all that time the Conservatives had a huge majority in Parliament.

"Either they did not try, or they tried their best and failed, which proves their policies useless."

"The only way to defeat poverty and unemployment after the war was by careful planning and control by the government. Between the two wars there were tens of thousands of competing plans each based upon how the greatest profit could made out of a particular manufacture. That was private enterprise which so often tended to keep down output as to keep up prices.

"We want to change these controls - take them out of the anonymous and irresponsible hands of private individuals and place them in the hands of the people's representatives - the Government.

"We can't afford to let private enterprise muddle along in inefficiency or combine into cartels to hold the public up to ransom. Just imagine the absurdity of Messrs Smith and Company's Grenadiers, advertised as the best fed and equipped unit, Messrs Robinson's the most up-to date aircraft carriers the world has ever seen, and expect that sort of thing to win a war.

"That is how it is suggested by the Conservatives that we should conduct the forces with which we must fight all the peace-time evils of our society.

"The industries of our country are a national asset. We must give to the scientist and the technician their proper place in the national service.

"We in the Labour party are in the most deadly earnest. Our nation will never rise supreme unless behind all our acts, and instinct with all our policies, is some great moral purpose. Greed and profit, opportunism and material gain are no foundation".

· In the July 5 election Labour won a 2-1 majority. Cripps, the party's famous high-taxing idealist, became chancellor of the exchequer in 1947.

From the Guardian archive > June 21, 1945 >
Labour's 'great moral purpose' in 1945, G, Republished 21.6.2006, http://www.guardian.co.uk/fromthearchive/story/0,,1802396,00.html






May 8 1940


Lessons of Norway


From The Guardian archive


May 8 1940
The Guardian


[In popular histories of the war, this debate was dominated
by one phrase, "in the name of God go",
which destroyed Neville Chamberlain.
That was not how the Manchester Guardian
or the Times reported the occasion.]


As far as the debate has gone it has changed nothing in the Parliamentary situation. That is, superficially.

And yet there was a difference. Today's Prime Minister was not the Chamberlain of a few weeks ago whom one heard telling the Tory Central Council that Hitler had missed the bus. But one can still hear those cheers from the embattled "Yes Men" .

Mr Chamberlain's apologia for the Norwegian failure can be studied elsewhere. Here one turns to his "general observations" which shed a good deal of light on himself and his Government. The lessons are those which the Opposition parties have been trying to teach him for months, so the Labour and Liberal benches rocked with cheers at his discoveries.

One lesson was that we had not realised the imminence of the threat. There the Opposition cheered for a full minute. The Leader of the Opposition [Mr Attlee] saw Norway as only one more failure in the uninterrupted story of Ministerial failures. Yet he was full of confidence about our winning the war, though he said bluntly it would only be done by putting different men at the helm.

Drama touched the debate once, when Admiral Sir Roger Keyes alleged in effect that Trondheim had been lost through faint hearts in Whitehall. He rose in his uniform of an admiral of the fleet, as he explained, because he had come to Westminster to speak for men in the fighting Navy who were very unhappy.

Sir Roger admonished [Mr Churchill] to steel himself for vigorous action, because he possesses the confidence of the War Cabinet, the country and the Navy. He ended by reminding Mr Churchill of Nelson's saying that bold est measures are always the safest. So far this had been quite the most disturbing speech in the debate.

Sir Roger's speech will probably tell for more against the Government than Mr Amery's, which followed, but Mr Amery's speech was a sustained and harsh denunciation of the Government for its timidity and ineffectiveness, full of power, and concluding with the savage application to the Government of Cromwell's words to the Long Parliament: "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say. Let us have done with you. In the name of God, go."

Mr Amery's philippic was delivered as usual to half-empty benches on his own side, but there was a goodly muster of the Opposition to hear him.

    From The Guardian archive > May 8 1940 > Lessons of Norway, G,
    republished 8.5.2007, p. 28,






June 8 1934


Mosley's circus at Olympia


From The Guardian archive


June 8 1934
The Guardian


Sir Oswald Mosley provided close on 10,000 people in Olympia tonight with an entertainment which Mr. Bertram Mills might at once have envied and deplored. For while Mr. Mills must certainly have envied Sir Oswald the number of his audience and the excitement he and his hecklers provided, he must have deplored the violence with which that excitement was obtained.

For what is described in the talk of the gangsters as 'rough-house work' no meeting in these islands within memory can have shown anything like it.

Inside the great hall it was seen that Sir Oswald Mosley had nothing of theatricalism to learn from either Hitler or Mussolini. There was a massed band of Blackshirts, the Union Jack, and the black and yellow flag of the British Union of Fascists. There were arc-lamps, and there was an aisle lined with Blackshirts.

Exactly thirty-five minutes after the meeting was due to begin the band dropped into a Low German march, the arc-lamps swung on the Blackshirted aisle, and Sir Oswald appeared — preceded by six men carrying Union Jacks and the British Blackshirt flag. The march proceeded to the platform while some people — they did not seem to be many — raised their arms in a Fascist salute.

Sir Oswald began his speech. Almost at once a chorus of interrupters began in one of the galleries. Blackshirts began stumbling and leaping over chairs. There was a wild scrummage, women screamed, black-shirted arms rose and fell, blows were dealt.

Sir Oswald stood to attention in the half-darkness, making unintelligible appeals through the amplifiers. For close on two hours the meeting dragged on like that, interruption and ejection. Suddenly, as Sir Oswald was speaking, a voice sounded high up in the girders, 'Down with Fascism!'

There, balanced one hundred and fifty feet above the crowd, a man was seen clambering across the girders. Then from each side Blackshirts appeared treading the same precarious perch. Sir Oswald went on speaking, but all eyes were on the climbers. Suddenly the interrupter clambered up above his pursuers and swung along the girders on to a platform high above them. His pursuers followed.

A sudden crash of glass tore the air. Someone had fallen sixty feet, at a guess, on to a floor. It is not disclosed whether the man was the interrupter or one of his pursuers.

The meeting ended in a mild chaos — not from interrupters but from a general stampede of the audience, who had plainly grown tired of Sir Oswald's two-hour monologue.

Our London Staff

    From The Guardian archive > June 8 1934 > Mosley's circus at Olympia, G,
    republished 8.6.2007, p. 40,






On This Day - April 16, 1929


From The Times Archive


The attempt by Winston Churchill,
then the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
to win over the electorate by reducing some taxes
and promoting Conservative economic competence
failed to secure victory for the Tories
in the 1929 general election.

With the support of the Liberal Party,
a minority Labour government was formed


BUDGET day lived up to its reputation in attracting to the House of Commons this afternoon a crowded audience of the public anxious to learn their fate as taxpayers, and of members anxious to take the omens of their fate as politicians.

The essence of Mr Churchill’s statement was a sober review of his record at the Exchequer and a balanced use of the last modest opportunities of the present Government. Without at any time passing the bounds of legitimate challenge, he forced home on the Socialists the magnitude of the economic disaster of 1926 and the immense recovery expressed by the realization of a “solid surplus” in 1928-29. His conclusion was that a lucid interval of two years had permitted a steady advance in prosperity which already outweighed the setback of one catastrophic year.

This general improvement in the conditions of the country the two Oppositions proposed to consolidate by spending money as fast as possible. The Socialists proposed to create “disillusionment in our own time” by raising £65,000,000 in chaos-producing taxation — a sum sufficient to finance about a quarter of their pledges. The Liberals proposed to borrow £200,000,000 in order to make racing tracks for well-to-do motorists. No could accuse them of “cheap ” electioneering. The Conservatives could adduce £7,500,000 saved on the annual cost of armaments, and £5,500,000 saved on the annual cost of the Civil Services.

He firmly believed that the only cure for unemployment was the revival of industry as a whole, and that private finance was the best spur and guide to rationalization. But the State would help. The railway passenger duties would be abolished in return for a guarantee by the railway companies to spend £6,500,000 on transport improvements. The bulk of his prospective surplus would be used to abolish the tea duty.

Mr Churchill insisted on the merit of the Government’s record. It had increased the Sinking Fund, restored the gold standard, checked expenditure, and initiated rating reform. The nation had rounded the corner of its economic difficulties.

    On This Day - April 16, 1929, The Times, 16.4.2005,






July 6, 1928


Celebrating full suffrage for women


From the Guardian archive


Friday July 6, 1928


"This recalls the famous breakfasts we used to have in the old fighting days when the prison gates were opened," said Mr Pethick-Lawrence, one of the speakers at the breakfast held this morning at the Hotel Cecil to celebrate the passing of the Equal Franchise Bill.

Of the 250 people present many could remember with him the breakfast welcomes that used to be given to the militant women released from Holloway Gaol. Dame Millicent Fawcett had on an early occasion, strongly as she disapproved of militant methods, consented generously to preside at one of the prisoner breakfasts. But many others, ex-prisoners or colleagues, who would have liked to join the celebration were unable to do so. They belong now to the great new army of business women and had to be in their office, which shows with wider freedom comes new restraint.

The great stars of the occasion were those two wonderful women Mrs Despard, founder of the Women's Freedom League, and Dame Millicent Fawcett, leader of the National Union of Suffrage Societies.

Great sympathy was felt with Mr Baldwin [prime minister], Sir William Joynson-Hicks, and more especially with Lady Astor, who had been unable to come, and it was felt that the Labour party had every cause to be proud because their leader, Mr Ramsay MacDonald, did come, and was able to say that his party had from the beginning supported the claim of women to equal civil rights.

Mrs Pethick-Lawrence referred with gratitude to the pioneers, and in touching words named specially four of those who had not lived to see the victory: Mrs Pankhurst, Miss Emily Davidson, Lady Constance Lytton, and Mrs Cobden Sanderson.

"We have our differences but have never had any difference as to women's franchise," said Mr Ramsay MacDonald, expressing the congratulations of the Labour party. "I want to say that as far as the great body of people in this country was concerned, the victory was won before a single shot was fired in the European War."

Lady Rhondda, who was to thank "the men who have helped us", said the men deserved more credit, for the women had had the prick of discomfort to spur them on.

Mrs Despard [recalled] the little meeting in a small room at which the Women's Freedom League was formed twenty-one years ago, expressing her delight that so many comrades from other societies were present, and assuring her friends that women continuing to work together in unity would accomplish great things in the future.

From the Guardian archive > July 6, 1928 > Celebrating full suffrage for women, G,
Republished 6.7.2006,






March 7 1924


'Sloppy sentiment' on the illegitimate


From the Guardian archive


March 7 1924
The Guardian


The House of Lords yesterday went into Committee on Lord Buckmaster's Legitimacy Bill. The Archbishop of Canterbury moved an amendment providing that nothing in the Act shall operate to legitimate a person whose father or mother was married to a third person when the illegitimate person was born. He said this proviso was in the bill they passed last year, and its adoption would assimilate the law of England and Scotland.

The Duke of Atholl supported the amendment, believing that, without it, the bill would stand no chance of becoming law. As drafted, the bill would encourage free love and polygamy. It was sloppy sentimentalism run wild. It might even lead to crime.

The Lord Chancellor said the Government had nothing to say as a Government. In this matter he spoke as a private member. The noble lords overlooked the fact that the whole object of the bill was to remove the stigma from illegitimate children.

Lord Parmoor strongly supported the amendment, and repudiated the Duke of Atholl's insinuation that the Labour party had not as good a moral standard as any other party.

He added that he would be away in Geneva next week and therefore he would not be able to oppose Lord Buckmaster's Divorce Bill. Viscount Finlay urged Lord Buckmaster to accept the amendment.

Lord Buckmaster said he had been accused of introducing a bill which was an incitement to murder and suicide, free love and polygamy, and other devastating consequences. The bill was designed to do justice to children born out of wedlock and the amendment would shut out a certain class from that benefit.

It had been backed up by inflammatory and denunciating arguments and fantastical hypotheses which almost bewildered him. He asked the House to reject the amendment.

The House divided, and the amendment was carried by 54 to 18. A new clause, proposed by Lord Buckmaster, making an illegitimate child next of kin in law to its mother if she died intestate was agreed to.

The bill passed Committee as amended. The Administration of Justice Bill and the Treaty of Peace (Turkey) Bill passed the third reading.

The Diseases of Animals Bill passed Committee and was read a third time.


[The successful clause of the Liberal peer Lord Buckmaster's bill

legitimised children whose parents subsequently married.

As late as 1959 peers again voted down a Commons bill

legitimising children of adulterous unions.

Advised to avoid a fight with MPS,

they later passed the measure.]

    From the Guardian archive > March 7 1924 > 'Sloppy sentiment' on the illegitimate, G,
    Republished 7.3.2007, p. 38,






November 10, 1910


Tonypandy's day of fear ends in peace


From the Guardian archive


Thursday November 10, 1910


Tonypandy, Wednesday. The town was awake all night. Excitement and fear kept many out of bed, and only the dawn scattered the prevailing alarm.

All night long men were boarding up the shattered shop fronts and carts were going round for the sweepings of plate glass that littered the main street for three quarters of a mile.

Now and again there was the heavy tramp of large bodies of police going or returning from the Glamorgan pit at Llwynypia, but nothing occurred to remove or increase the anxious suspense. Today is also full of fear.

The few shops that escaped damage yesterday are being barricaded today, and the night is awaited with dread. Soldiers have arrived. A squadron of the 18th Hussars reached Pontypridd early this morning, and after a rest a troop came here by road, a distance of seven miles, while the other troop went to Aberdare... The troop here rode through the town about one o'clock to their quarters at the New Colliery offices. The Metropolitan Mounted Constabulary have also arrived.

Superficially there is nothing but curiosity in the minds of the slow-moving crowds that are in the streets, but the same could have been said yesterday, and those who know the temper of the Rhondda miners predict more trouble. Let us hope the prophets of evil are wrong.

Ten o'clock. Tonypandy tonight and Tonypandy last night are not like the same town. Even within the past two hours there has been a great change. There is not even a crowd about except in the square. At first the disappearance of the strikers caused misgiving. It seemed as if they had acted on a common understanding, and the fear was that they might be congregating elsewhere.

I have walked to Llwynypia and as far as the grounds of Mr. Llewellyn's [the colliery general manager] house. There are only curious sightseers about. The colliery is brightly lighted, and the loud hum of the machinery in the power-house shows that it is running at full speed. The police are stamping up and down to keep themselves warm. Mr. Llewellyn's house looks as secure as Buckingham Palace. No doubt there are many police guarding it, but they are all hidden by the darkness, and it has not been thought necessary to secure the gates.

· Many trade unionists believed for decades that troops sent by Winston Churchill, as home secretary, fired on locked-out miners during this dispute. This report indicates troops only arrived the day after the savage disturbances, though the decision to send them was known earlier.

    From the Guardian archive > November 10, 1910 >
    Tonypandy's day of fear ends in peace, G, Republished 10.11.2006,






September 28, 1909


The Lords and Tories fear a land tax


From the Guardian archive


Tuesday September 28, 1909


That the Lords will reject the Budget - or postpone it, which is the same thing - till after a general election, the spokesmen of the Opposition seem now agreed.

No one with eyes and a memory really doubts why they will; what they dislike, as they started by showing quite simply, are the land taxes.

It was only when the land taxes were found unexpectedly very popular that this attitude had to be abandoned.

All sorts of refinements were resorted to in order that the land-owning peers who condemned the Budget because it touched their pockets might be saved. Since then we have a series of alternative cries.

Lord Rosebury disclosed the appalling spectre of commercial insecurity, happily not visible on the markets; and then Mr. Balfour lit a still brighter lantern inside a larger turnip and labelled it Socialism.

The drawback to all these devices has been that they have not really touched the obnoxious land taxes. When they are described as Socialism, the description, if not dismissed at once, tends rather to make people think less ill of Socialism.

Some other direct weapon had to be found. The latest and most logical was that which Mr. Balfour tried to wield last night - the plea that they were not levied solely for the benefit of the local authorities.

Now no one who puts to the landowner who receives unearned increment Mr. Churchill's question, "How did you get it?" can fail to see that the local authorities, by expenditure out of the rates, have helped confer the increment.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer [Lloyd George] sees that, and he proposes to hand half the yield of the taxes over to them. But when Mr. Balfour and Mr. [FE] Smith condemn him for not letting them have the whole, they expose themselves to two crushing replies. Their whole criticism is based on the asking of that very question "How did you get it?" which every spokesman of the landowners has told us it is so wicked to ask.

Where a public authority has helped to create a great value, it is justified in taking a reasonable toll of the value. This is what, in defence of the land taxes, we have urged all along; and if when urged on behalf of the municipality it is, in Mr. Balfour's words, "a simple principle" and one which he "appreciates", how when urged on behalf of the State does it become "Socialism" and robbery and spoliation, and, in fine, the beginning of the end?


[Lloyd George's budget proposed a tax on sales of land.

It had to be dropped because of opposition.]

    From the archive > September 28, 1909 >
    The Lords and Tories fear a land tax,
    G, Republished 28.9.2006,






July 25, 1889


Mr Gladstone's

untiringly youthful mind


From the Guardian archive


Thursday July 25, 1889


We all know what we owe to Mr. Gladstone, or some of us at least know, but perhaps no one but Mr. Gladstone himself knows what we owe to his wife.

We shall best express our sense of what we owe to the lady who completes her fiftieth year of married life today by declining to regard her as apart from her husband, and rather uniting them in our thought as they have been united in purpose, in labour, and in sympathy.

And what a fifty years it has been! In the marriage register Mr. Gladstone is described as member of Parliament for Newark, where he had sat for half-a-dozen years as the friend of Sir Robert Peel and the nominee of the Duke of Newcastle.

Already he had held office as an Under-Secretary of State, and men pointed to him as destined to do great things and as the rising hope of the Tory party. One half of that forecast has been fulfilled in ample measure, but the other has been strangely falsified.

Nothing is more wonderful than the unceasing growth and expansion of Mr. Gladstone's mind. Lord Palmerston lived to a greater age than Mr. Gladstone has just attained and held power to the last, but long before then he had reached the limits of his political tether, and the world waited to move on till he should have passed away.

But to Mr. Gladstone it would seem to have been given to carry forward to the limits of his age the privilege of youth - its elasticity, its hopefulness, its readiness to embark on new and great undertakings. Had Mr. Gladstone retired from political life even ten years ago he would already have accomplished more things and greater than any other statesman of the century.

To have borne a great part in the battle of Free Trade, to have reformed the tariff, to have compelled the enfranchisement of the householders in the boroughs and to have carried their enfranchisement in the counties, to have given protection to the voter by ballot, to have laid broad and deep the foundations of a system of national education, this surely would have been praise enough and labour enough for any single man.

Yet to all this Mr. Gladstone has added the greatest by far of the tasks of his life - the reconstruction of the political relations of Ireland to the remainder of the United Kingdom. Of all living men he is best able to carry it to a happy and a fruitful issue.


· Attributed to GWE Russell.

Gladstone, 80 at this time,

still had his fourth spell as Liberal prime minister before him.

    From the Guardian archive > July 25, 1889 > Mr Gladstone's untiringly youthful mind,

    G, Republished 25.7.2006,







July 6 1850


The death of a remarkable prime minister


From The Guardian archive


July 6 1850
The Guardian


Our latest intelligence on Wednesday contained the melancholy announcement, received by electric telegraph, of the decease of Sir Robert Peel of the injuries received by the fall from his horse on Saturday.

[The ex-prime minister] had called at Buckingham Palace. Proceeding up Constitution Hill, he had arrived nearly opposite the wicket gate leading into the Green Park, when he met Miss Ellis, one of Lady Dover's daughters. Sir Robert had scarcely exchanged salutes with this young lady, when his horse, becoming restive, swerved towards the rails of Green Park, and threw Sir Robert sideways on his left shoulder.

Sir Robert, on being raised, groaned very heavily, and [asked] whether he was much hurt, replied, "Yes, very much."

From A Special Correspondent: From 1841 to 1846 I heard every speech he delivered and [have read] every speech he ever delivered. He is open to the reproach of having been a dextrous party leader, often leading people who trusted him astray as to his real objects.

But, apart from this, his public life of forty years is associated with some of the most remarkable of the measures which have changed the very character of the government; the remodelling of the currency, the improvement of the executive in Ireland, the amelioration of the criminal law, catholic emancipation, and commercial freedom, are the monuments of his public career.

[As a young MP] Peel was in the prime of manhood, and the champion of the protestant interest. It would have been absurd to expect an early abandonment of his position.

But any one who will take the time to read his speeches during several years prior to catholic emancipation will detect the gradual conquest of his intellect over his prejudices.

Any observer, during the period between 1841 and 1846, could discern that the intellect of Sir Robert Peel was capitulating to the arguments of the economists and that the repeal of the corn laws was merely a question of time.

Had [the Irish potato] famine been followed by the European revolutions of 1848, with the corn-law unrepealed, the Anti-corn-law League in full operation and the middle classes exasperated to the last pitch of endurance, the whole fabric of English society would have been shaken to its very foundations.

From that tremendous peril did Sir Robert Peel save us; and he accomplished it at the sacrifice of his power, his reputation and even his health.

    From The Guardian archive > July 6 1850 >
    The death of a remarkable prime minister, G, republished 6.7.2007, p. 36,






August 2, 1848


The Irish uprising that never was


From the Guardian archive


Wednesday August 2, 1848


[This was the reality behind Manchester's official panic about a supposed insurrection in Ireland, as reported in Saturday's archive extract.]

Although we never expected any very serious consequences from the treasonable conspiracy in which so large a number of Irishmen were known to be engaged, and the existence of which they took care to proclaim to all the world, we scarcely expected so ridiculous a burlesque of an insurrection as that which Mr. Smith O'Brien and his friends have been acting in Tipperary.

These amazingly foolish people appear to have paraded themselves through great part of the counties of Waterford, Tipperary, and Kilkenny, sporting green and gold uniforms of unquestionable brilliancy - the possession of which they seem to have considered sufficient guarantees of their strategic and military skill.

The people of the south of Ireland, however, were a little wiser than Mr. O'Brien. They do not appear to have thought that a few green uniforms constituted a sufficient nucleus for an insurrectionary army.

They wanted to see that formidable force which was alleged to have been organised in Dublin, but which was by no means forthcoming.

No doubt the rebel leaders were, to a great extent, the victims of their own mis-statements as to the extent of the organisation. The repealers of Dublin, who saw clearly enough the dangers which they would have to encounter in case of an outbreak in that city, were very willing to believe that the first move would be made by the people of the south.

They had been taught that nothing was easier than to overthrow British power in Ireland - that almost at the first shout the Lord Lieutenant and his court would be but too happy to make their escape.

The Dublin men saw, however, that their share of the achievement was not quite so easy.There were rather too many troops and police and too much vigilance.

It was much easier to rely upon the people of Waterford and Tipperary. The Dublin leaders on the first appearance of danger betook themselves to the south; never doubting but they should find an army on foot to receive them.

But it happened that the "boys" of Tipperary and Waterford had been doing just what had been done in Dublin. They had relied upon the great army from some other quarter; from Dublin, or Cork or the United States.

When [the leaders from Dublin] made their appearance, with no other military appliances than four uniforms, and urged them to rise in insurrection, they naturally demurred.

    From the Guardian archive > August 2, 1848 > The Irish uprising that never was, G,
    Republished 2.8.2006,






April 12 1834


A prayer for the Dorchester convicts


From The Guardian archive


 April 12 1834
The Guardian


On Monday last, a meeting of unionists and others, convened by placard as "the working classes", was held at Mr Scholfield's chapel, Every Street, Ancoats, to petition parliament for remission of the sentence of transportation passed upon the six men [known as "the Tolpuddle martyrs"] convicted of administering secret and illegal oaths at Dorchester.

The chapel being found too small to hold the crowd of idle people, an adjournment took place to the chapel yard, 1,400 or 1,500 persons being present. The chair was taken by a young man named Grant, who it is said was formerly a cotton spinner.

The meeting was addressed by a delegate from some union in Edinburgh, a delegate from "the consolidated trades unions of London", and others, who spoke in violent language of the partiality and injustice with which they said the law against secret oaths was administered. The Duke of Sussex [was] suffered to preside over a lodge of freemasons, and the late Duke of York over the orange lodges, in both of which secret oaths were taken.

Petrie, the London delegate, said government dared as soon send the men abroad as they dared cut their own throats. It was merely an experiment on the submission of the people. They had drawn the sword against two millions of men who were pledged to effect their own emancipation and to obtain a proper return for their industry. He would not advise any appeal to force, but recommend the labouring classes to rest upon their oars, and declare that they would cease producing until "the thing" rotted away.

The following petition was adopted: The petition of the undersigned labourers, and others, humbly represents that these poor men have been entrapped by a law grown obsolete in the memory of the nation, until the revival of it by a sentence of unusual and undeserved severity; and as there are other associations which meet and administer oaths unlawfully, one of which is presided over by a prince of the blood royal, your petitioners fear that the law may fall into contempt from its seeming partiality and cruelty.

They therefore pray that your honourable house will use its influence with the executive government for a remission of the sentences, pass an act rendering the law upon this question more equal and impartial.

It was resolved that the petition after lying a few days for signatures should be sent up to Mr John Fielden for presentation, and that Mr Cobbett, Mr Hume, Mr Ewart and other members should be requested to support its prayer. A collection was made for the support of the convicts.

From The Guardian archive > April 12 1834 >
A prayer for the Dorchester convicts,
G, 12.4.2007, p. 32,






On This Day: March 23, 1802


From The Times Archive


Until the mid-19th century,
general elections were notorious
for the bribes, or treats,
offered by candidates to electors.
Lord Belgrave’s Bill
was one of many attempts to stop
such corrupt practices

LORD BELGRAVE rose to move leave to bring in a Bill to repeal much of the Act of the seventh of William the Third, as related to disabling persons from sitting in that House who should offend against the said Act; and to make more effectual provisions in lieu of the same.

To the principles of this Bill he did not suppose there could be any objection; it was evidently intended to prevent the riot and excess which too generally prevailed at Elections; to preserve the health and morals of the people; and was calculated to secure the freedom and purity of popular Elections.

He had at first intended to propose the repeal of this Act altogether, but from further consideration, it appeared that the former part of it was unexceptional, but that the latter was not sufficiently explicit or effective to answer the purpose — it was found to have produced many contradictory opinions in the Election Committees of that House.

The necessity for such a measure must be acknowledged by every person who recollected the disgraceful scenes that had occurred during the last Election, particularly in the Borough of Southwark. He felt much pleased in reflecting on the assistance the Treating Act derived from some late decisions in the Courts of Law, where it was determined that the value of articles furnished for Election purposes, contrary to the spirit of this Act, was not recoverable by law. This would serve, no doubt, to check the publican’s readiness to give credit, and perhaps, in consequence, to restrain the candidates’ disposition to extravagance.

On This Day: March 23, 1802,
Times, 23.3.2005,










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