The Hollow Men

In the comments under last night’s post – Terminal Disenchantment -, Junican wrote:

I suspect that the traditional voters for parties are dying (literally) like flies and that young people do not have the political party allegiances of old. If that is true, then the current leaders of the main parties are not responsible to the members of the party since there is not much of a party. That may explain why it is that all the party leaders look and sound much the same. So why do the traditional parties continue to attract votes? I suspect that it is a result of very expensive marketing. In other words, membership of the party is no longer important. Marketing (aka propaganda) is the main deciding factor in which party has the majority in Parliament.

The time is ripe for a new Party to emerge.

I think he’s probably right. It might be said that political parties have a natural lifespan, and that they eventually grow old and die. Britain’s Labour party, for example, grew out of the trade union movement of the early 20th century, and arguably reached its zenith in 1945 when the Labour government of Clement Attlee swept into power, and created the NHS and all sorts of other things. After that, it alternated in office with the Conservatives for the next 30 years (which also happened to be the first 30 years of my life). But by 1980, it had perhaps done most of the things it intended to do, and had begun to lose its way. This was the time when radicals like Tony Benn and Derek Hatton looked like taking over the Labour party, and when moderate Labour party members like Shirley Williams left and formed the Social Democratic Party. In some ways, it might be said that Margaret Thatcher was the beneficiary in those times in having a Labour party that was all but unelectable. It wasn’t until the Labour party re-invented itself as New Labour, with Tony Blair as its young and charismatic leader, that Labour managed to win another three terms. And that was perhaps because the post-Thatcher Conservative party had in turn lost its way.

Because the Conservative party had also been having something of an identity crisis as well. The Conservative party in the 1950s and 60s was (as I recall it) run by a bunch of aristocrats living in the twilight of the British Empire, which was being completely dismantled around them. Many of their stately country homes were falling into disrepair. They seemed to many people to be yesterday’s men, clinging onto the vestiges of empire. It was Margaret Thatcher who re-invented them as a party of business and enterprise and opportunity, and started selling off council houses to their tenants. But once she was overthrown, in a palace coup, there was no-one quite like her to step into her shoes. And also, she had become widely loathed as being imperious and insensitive and perhaps even downright cruel. That’s when the Conservative party started being called ‘the nasty party’. And so for the next 20 years the Conservative party was led by a succession of grey men, until David Cameron came along, and re-invented the Conservatives in much the same way as Tony Blair had re-invented the Labour party. In fact, as far as I can see, the New Conservatives aren’t very much different from New Labour.

What does all this add up to? That the Labour party has re-invented itself at least once in the last 50 years. And the Conservatives have re-invented themselves twice.

And in the process, both parties have been losing their traditional voters. Norman Tebbit, who was something of a populist firebrand in Margaret Thatcher’s government, regularly warns in his Telegraph blog how Conservative party membership has been steadily falling for decades. I believe, like Junican, that much the same is true of the Labour party.

And the result, as Junican observes, is that there’s not much grassroot activity in either of them. Thirty or forty years ago, the party conferences were big events, with lots of people speaking, and the party leaders listening and responding. Now they all seem to be stage-managed. And if delegates don’t behave, and follow the script, they’re bundled out of the hall. And in the case of David Cameron’s Conservative party, it’s Conservative Central Office that decides who’s going to stand as prospective MPs in parliamentary constituencies. Which more or less means that the grassroots are moribund.

Both Labour and Conservative parties have become hollow parties. Their leaders speak, but there’s nobody listening, and – more importantly – nobody speaking back, and telling them a few home truths. And so the leaders are cut off from valuable feedback from ordinary people. They’re out of touch. And not only have their political parties become hollowed out, but they themselves have become hollowed out too. They have become hollow men, empty men.

And also, the only people they talk to are other politicians. They belong to a political class which really only talks to itself, and which lives in a media circus in which they all talk to each other. And in the process they have all become more and more alike, and share many of the same values. They’re all pro-EU. And they’re all environmentalists. And they’re all antismoking.

And if they have become these things, it’s in large part because they now get most of their advice from NGOs – like ASH, and Greenpeace, and the WHO. As their party membership (with its valuable advice) melted away, they listened more and more to lobby groups of one sort or other, most of them pursuing some utopian fantasy (like a ‘smokefree’ world).

I haven’t been following US politics very closely in recent years, but I get the impression that a similar thing has been happening there. There’s been a similar alternation between US Democrats and Republicans as between UK Labour and Conservatives. And there’s perhaps also the same sense that they’ve lost their way.

And maybe it’s true across much of Europe as well. The stars of all the interesting politicians – the De Gaulles and the Willy Brandts – seem to have shone brightest over 30 or 40 years ago. The USA hasn’t seen another JFK or another Ronald Reagan. And Britain hasn’t seen another Churchill or another Thatcher. All the politicians seem to be made in the same mould, cut from the same cloth. And ‘Conservative’ and ‘Labour’, and ‘Republican’ and ‘Democrat’, have become increasingly meaningless, interchangeable and ultimately empty descriptions.

But perhaps this is just what periodically, and normally, happens in a political ecosystem. The forest gets dominated by a few large trees, which gradually get hollowed out. And they become corrupt, eaten by termites. And then they start falling down, one by one. And as that happens, light and room is made for new growth. And that’s when you start seeing new parties. Like Beppe Grillo’s in Italy. Or the Tea Party in the USA. Or the Pirate Party.

Also, in the meanwhile, the electorate gets slowly angrier and angrier with a political class that pays absolutely no attention to them whatsoever, yet expects them to carry on voting for them anyway. They start to look around for alternatives.

Clearly things are going to come to a head sooner or later. And in the internet era, it has become possible for new grassroot movements to start and grow in completely new ways. It’s pretty much the only way that they can, given that the entire electorate has effectively been disenfranchised by being presented with no real choice.

I suppose that the only thing I would disagree with in Junican’s assessment is that the time is ripe for a new political party. For I think we’re living in a time of dissolution and decay, during which people become disoriented (and perhaps become as lost as the politicians). New political parties need a shared sense of direction. They need to be going somewhere, aiming somewhere. And that’s what’s absent right now. And it’s something that only comes after a time of decay and disintegration – a ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ -.

And in that dark night, everyone gropes their way forward slowly and uncertainly, not knowing where they are going, or even where they might be able to go. And that’s where we are at the moment in an ancient cycle of death and rebirth, of decay and renewal. And none of the stages can be skipped. Because before anything new can be tried, the old must first become exhausted and emptied.

A bit like the empty, hollow bottle of Tesco Special Reserve Whisky beside me, from which I am attempting (unsuccessfully) to extract one last drop – because I’ve forgotten to buy a new one.

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32 Responses to The Hollow Men

  1. Dave says:

    Frank your insight into what is going on here in America is spot on. Now from a state prospective I will give you a real good example. Here in my state the Democrats tried for 5 years or so to ram thru a smoking ban that our Democratic Governor promised she would sign. Well the conservative Republicans stopped it every year. Amazingly in our Governors last year in office (final 8th year) 2009-10 the Republicans gave in and it passed and she signed it. It went in effect mid 2010 and she left at the end of the year with the damage trail to small business all ready well under way. Exemptions were given to Casinos and smoke shops and that was it. I know for a fact a back room deal was cut for the Casinos. What made all this so odd is for years it had no chance of passing because the Republicans would not allow it. Then like magic most changed their mind. We now have a Republican Governor who will not touch the issue despite some Repub and even a few Dems trying to get bills introduced to repeal it. Ironically in the election process to replace her the Democratic candidate who is a mayor vowed to have it repealed (lol) if he won. This was clearly just a bogus effort for votes because after he lost he asked the Indian reservation moving into his city if they would be non smoking. They of course said no as all Indian res are exempt from state law. What is funny is he cited his reasoning that business around the Casino would suffer badly because they could not compete with a large Casino that allowed smoking,drinking etc… It may seem I have gotten off point but not at all. Our climate here is that regular people are totally at odds with the politicians as at one time you knew what each side represented. Now it is all about self interests and the party label means nothing. I live in Mi where Detroit the one time auto capital of America and typically Democratic leaning citizens are just hanging on to a dying party.All while the Repubs sold us out for whatever it is they get behind the scenes. This party is also dying and many do not identify with either party anymore. It is a mess here Frank and getting worse (no jobs). I can tell you with certainty that life here is not what it used to be in many aspects and in general people are unhappy and feel powerless. Our current Governor will be a one term for sure and the mess will just keep going while so many suffer in different ways. I had an old man (80ish) tell me he has never seen such a disconnect between the people and the politicians. Most regular people are looking for some new type of party to emerge as they have no where left to turn and feel no one represents them or cares. In closing your correct a complete change or redefined party for the Repubs and Dems is in the process except that it is the same garbage. Just some thoughts Frank…. so I end this from Michigan where 500 plus bars mostly small mom and pop places like your pubs are long dead since this began in May 2010. The damage continues…

  2. smokervoter says:

    As you might gather from my moniker and the voluminous opinions expressed here, I’m somewhat of a political junkie. So I always get a kick out of expanding my knowledge of British politics through your blog posts, you sum things up quite concisely and digestibly.

    Your description of the contemporary state of affairs over there rings a lot of familiar bells over here.

    Right now I’m so bored and disheartened by American politics it ain’t funny. I’m more interested in tomorrows Eastleigh by-elections and UKIP.

    I was sorely disappointed with the reaction by a Tea Party leader the other day to accusations by Glantz that they were a remnant of the 1990s smokers rights movement. She said something along the lines of ‘oh, they represent 0.0001 per cent of the party’.

    Apparently we’re such damaged goods to her that she’s not interested in a piece of 27 million voters. Is that so, madame? Are you interested instead in a piece of the much vaunted 13 million total latino constituency then? Go right ahead, we’ll start the MYOB spoilers party, along with the rest of the Untouchables in the country. I’ve read that the Untouchables have made some notable political strides in India, so there’s hope for us yet.

    Grillo’s 5-Star party just threw a big wrench in the works in Italy, make no mistake. You don’t have to win all the marbles to shake things up.

    I went to a Tea Party get together here one night at a steakhouse/bar. Found out about it via their website. It was nice, with friendly and agreeable people and such. I got up an talked about tobacco taxes and prohibition during open discussion time and generally got a positive reaction.

    I smoked outside on the patio with a bunch of them. And we all agreed that it should be up to the business owner whether or not we should have to find ourselves in that ungratifying situation.

    Methinks that national Tea Party leader might want to rethink her losing strategy. American latinos are, by and large, big government tax-loving nanny staters. MYOBers come in all sizes, shapes and hues.

  3. Rose says:

    The Conservative party in the 1950s and 60s was (as I recall it) run by a bunch of aristocrats living in the twilight of the British Empire, which was being completely dismantled around them. Many of their stately country homes were falling into disrepair.

    There’s a good reason for that, their homes were requisitioned during WW2 and given back to them in a ruined state, then they kept being hit by increasing death duties that got so high they were impossible to pay and their homes had to be demolished or given to the National Trust in lieu of the death duties.

    “In 1946, in what has been described as “an act of sheer class-war vindictiveness”, Britain’s Labour Government insisted on the destruction, by open cast mining, of the park and formal gardens of Wentworth Woodhouse, Britain’s largest country house. The Minister of Fuel and Power, Manny Shinwell, insisted, as 300 year-old oaks were uprooted, that “the park be mined right up to the mansion’s door.”Meanwhile plans by the socialist government to wrest the house from its owner, the Earl Fitzwilliam, and convert the architecturally important house for “homeless industrial families” were only abandoned at the eleventh hour when Earl Fitzwilliam, through the auspices of his socialist sister, agreed to its conversion to a college—a lesser fate.[50] This was the political climate in which many families abandoned the houses their families had owned for generations.”

    “The difference in the 20th century was that the acts of demolition were often acts of desperation and last resort; a demolished house could not be valued for probate duty.”

    “As early as June 1940, while Britain was embroiled the early days of World War II, The Times, confident of future victory, advised its readers that “a new order cannot be based on the preservation of privilege, whether the privilege be that of a county, a class, or an individual.”[13] Thus it was after the end of the war, as the government handed back the requisitioned, war-torn and frequently dilapidated mansions to their often demoralised and impoverished owners; it was during a period of not just mounting taxation, to pay for a costly war, but also a time when it seemed all too clear that the old order had passed.[17] In this political climate, many felt it the only option to abandon their ancestral piles. Thus, following the cessation of hostilities, the trickle of demolitions which had begun in the earlier part of the century, now became a torrent of destruction.”

    Death duties, however, slowly increased and became a serious problem for the country estate throughout the first half of the 20th century, reaching a zenith when assisting in the funding of World War II. This proved to be the deciding factor for many families when in 1940 death duties were raised from 50% to 65%, and following the cessation of hostilities they were twice raised further between 1946 and 1949.”

    I still think the spiteful and deliberate destruction of the stately homes was very sad.

    Labour continued erasing our history by removing the hereditaries from the House of Lords as soon as they got back into power.

    Hereditary peers out within weeks

    “The historic Bill scrapping the 700-year-old rights of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords will be law within the next few weeks, following the legislation having passed its final hurdle on Tuesday.

    Hundreds of hereditaries will have been ejected by the time the Queen opens the new session of Parliament on 17 November”

    The glass is shattered’

    The opposition leader in the Lords, Lord Strathclyde, had called for fellow Tory peers to abstain in the vote and let the Bill pass.

    He told peers: “A long chapter of history is being closed tonight.

    “The tale is now told. The past is done. The glass is shattered and it cannot be remade. The prime minister has taken a knife and scored a giant gash across the face of history.”

    I am not a well off person, but the politics of envy have never appealed to me.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Britain’s Labour Government insisted on the destruction, by open cast mining, of the park and formal gardens of Wentworth Woodhouse, Britain’s largest country house.

      I never knew that.

      The politics of envy have never appealed to me either. I wonder if it’s the same envy that drives antismoking? An envy that desires to crush and destroy.

  4. DP says:

    Dear Mr Davis

    How about the Smokers’ Party – 25% of the electorate at a smoke.

    The manifesto would include the abandonment of the denormalisation of any lifestyle group – consumers of alcohol, fast food, salt, sugar and firearms. And the end of all fake charities.


    1 July is National Smoking Day – feel free to light up

  5. Rose says:

    In my opinion,one of the worst mistakes the Conservative Party have made in the past few years was in choosing Cameron over David Davis who wanted to restore the civil liberties lost since 1997.
    The party who appear to have been more worried about winning than any other consideration,chose the Heir to Blair and that’s exactly what they got.

  6. Rose says:

    Incidentally I was watching the news this morning and I was caught by this story.

    High Street chain store closures soar, says research

    “The number of shops closed by retail chains in Britain has soared over the past 12 months, according to research.
    Analysis from PwC revealed that chains shut an average of 20 shops a day last year, with gift shops, clothing stores and card shops among the worst affected.
    The BBC’s Jenny Hill meets two friends trying to remember what their High Street used to look like.”

    What do you see in the video? A vast empty pedestrian precinct.

    They are all baffled, what can have happened? Like the pubs disappearing after July 1 2007, they are completely mystified.

    They’ve banned all the cars from the high streets and made huge pedestrian precincts for all those shoppers who would now come in by public transport, so where can they be?.

    They are all at the out of town retail parks where they can park their cars so that they don’t have to travel home with armfuls of shopping and struggling small children on the bus.

    • Rose says:

      Mind you, it has been in part to my advantage, I haven’t bothered going into town for years.

      Within walking distance I now have a Marks&Spencer Food Hall, a large Morrisons, Hobbicraft, various high street clothing shops, electrical stores,Costa coffee etc, on a small scale to fit the space left by the old textile mills.
      But forget the main road, it’s almost permanently jammed now with cars heading for their not very big, but completely free car parks.

      Oh and the multiple speed cameras on the road to Leeds which in 2005 had the honour of being named by the Times as the most densely packed series of speed cameras in the whole of Britain “4.25 cameras per mile along its 4.47-mile stretch”, don’t come out as far as us.

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    When both parties basically become unidentifiable to the other,they are in fact no longer parties but the same party. This leads to everyone looking for a new party that holds to beliefs of liberty and sound budget enter UKIP!

    • smokervoter says:

      Man alive this WordPress comment mechanism drives me batty sometimes trying to get it to line up properly. This is intended to go under Harley’s UKIP comment.

      Damn straight Harley. I about fell over dead the other day while looking through the UKIP website. I found this under the heading of Health: UKIP Policy

      Public Health and Preventative Health Care

      UKIP believes in giving people more control over their own lives and allowing them to make their own decisions, in health care as in other areas. As a result, public health expenditure will be limited to those areas where there is a risk to the wider population (e.g. notifiable diseases and their containment) but will not include campaigns to try to tell people what choices to make in their lifestyle. (e.g. stop smoking, 5 a day, exercise).

      BTW, have you noticed the name recognition Nigel Farage is beginning to garner over here in the past year or so? I see him all over the news and the web and especially at liberty sites. Alex Jones, the dedicated Healthist conspiracy whacko (who I’d really like to like) features him quite frequently. Same with Matt Drudge.

      I’ll never quite understand that guy (Alex Jones), he’s equal parts intense Nanny State warrior and organic food, the-sky-is-falling, everybody’s-dying antismoker.

  8. DP says:

    Dear Mr Davis

    T S Eliot’s The Hollow Men first stanza could sum up politics today:

    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

    Last stanza:

    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.



    • Margo says:

      Very apt. My favourite poem, a predictive work. We’re living/dying through the long slow whimper right now, most of us with our heads in the sand.

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    Smoking ban in public places to be extended to cars carrying children under plan being considered by David Cameron

    PM reveals idea is part of plan to improve public health
    Health minister Anna Soubry

    Confined space means the fumes other passengers breathe in can be 11 times more concentrated
    Around 300,000 children in the UK visit the GP each year due to second-hand smoke

    The Prime Minister is considering a ban on smoking in cars when children are present.

    David Cameron said there had been a ‘real health advance’ with restrictions on smoking in public places and those wanting to go further had a ‘good point’.

    He said other options included mandatory plain packaging, recently introduced in Australia.

    The intervention comes 24 hours after health minister Anna Soubry backed the idea of a ban in cars.

    She said lighting up on the road was a ‘child welfare issue’ and called on the Government to consider making it illegal.

    At Prime Minister’s Questions Mr Cameron was urged by Labour’s Ian Mearns to go ‘a significant step further and introduce a ban on smoking when children are present in vehicles’.

    Mr Cameron replied: ‘We should look carefully at what the you and others have said.

    ‘We are looking across the piece at all the issues, including whether we should follow the Australians with the ban on packaging and what more we can to do to restrict smoking in public places.

    ‘There has been a real health advance from some of the measures that have been taken.

    ‘We must consider each one and work out whether there is a real public health benefit, but you make a good point.’

    Health groups have called for a cigarette ban in cars for years as the confined space means the toxic fumes other passengers breathe in are up to 11 times more concentrated.

    Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, backed the PM: ‘The case for a ban on smoking in cars is now unarguable.

    ‘Since the BLF began this campaign in 2010, we’ve had overwhelming support from the public, from politicians – and now from the Government’s own health minister.

    ‘Unfortunately, since then, children’s exposure to second-hand smoke has resulted in 800,000 primary care consultations, 440,000 new episodes of disease and 25,000 hospital admissions.’

    Yesterday Miss Soubry, a junior minister for public health, became the first frontbencher to suggest it, although she stressed this was her own opinion not Government policy.

    ‘I would ban smoking in cars where children are present’, she told the Local Government Association’s annual public health conference yesterday.

    ‘I would do that for the protection of children. I believe in protecting children. I would see it as a child welfare issue. I think it is something we should at least consider as a government.

    Miss Soubry, Tory MP for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire has courted controversy for her outspoken views on people’s lifestyles.

    Last month she said children from poor backgrounds were more likely to be obese due to an ‘abundance of bad food’.

    However research from a US university published shortly afterwards suggested in fact middle class children were more likely to be fat.

    She has also described the current laws on assisted dying as ‘appalling’.

    A survey by the Department of Health last year found that more than one in five smokers lit up in front of their children in the home or in the car.

    Around 300,000 children in the UK visit the GP each year due to second-hand smoke, with 9,500 visiting hospital.

    It has been against the law to smoke in vehicles solely used for work, such as pool cars or lorries, since July 2007, a year after smoking in pubs, clubs and restaurants was banned.

    While the government are not currently considering a ban, they have run marketing campaigns encouraging people not to smoke in front of their children at home or in the car.

    The anti-smoking charity Ash said there is ‘growing public support for a ban on smoking in cars altogether.’ Martin Dockrell, its policy advisor said:

    ‘The minister can count on our support and the majority of the public. A ban on smoking in cars is the right thing to do. We need to think about whether this should just be aimed at children. Older adults are vulnerable too.’

    South Africa has banned smoking in cars as have some parts of Canada, the US and Australia. The British Medical Association and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health also back a ban.

    Second hand smoke is particularly damaging to babies and children as their smaller lungs will breathe in relatively larger doses of smoke than adults, and their immune systems are still developing.

    It is associated with asthma, ear infections, pneumonia and even cot death. Research has found children who breathe in smoke are more likely to get cancer in later life.

    Last year the House of Lords approved plans to ban smoking in cars, by handing offenders a £60 fine or forcing them to attend a smoke awareness course.

    But they acknowledged ministers prefered education to try and convince parents to change their behaviour. David Cameron suggested it would curtail personal freedoms, and said parliament needed to have a ‘serious think’ before taking such a step.

    Labour MP Alex Cunningham introduced legislation urging a ban in the Commons last year but it faced significant opposition from MPs of all parties.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    • beobrigitte says:

      Around 300,000 children in the UK visit the GP each year due to second-hand smoke, with 9,500 visiting hospital.

      Ah, so there IS something (?in chiiiiiildren) that is only caused by SHS? I am eagerly awaiting details of that!!!!
      Second hand smoke is particularly damaging to babies and children as their smaller lungs will breathe in relatively larger doses of smoke than adults, and their immune systems are still developing.

      It is associated with asthma, ear infections, pneumonia and even cot death. Research has found children who breathe in smoke are more likely to get cancer in later life.

      I take it that car fumes (the 4X4 diesel in which the “poor chiiildren” are transported to school) have absolutely nothing to do with ANY illnesses. (?)

      Anyway, here some FACTS:
      Asthma is eased by smoking. (Many asthmatics do smoke in order to alleviate asthma attacks.)
      Ear infections. This does not even deserve a comment.
      Cot deaths.
      Excerpts from a letter that tells the whole story from the SIDS Alliance to ASH US [3]
      We, at the SIDS Alliance applaud your efforts to bring to the attention of the American public the hazards associated with smoking and smoke exposure; we must, however, object to your organization’s use of misleading data and terminology when linking Sudden Infant Death Syndrome to your cause.

      Statistically, passive smoke exposure is a recognized, significant factor for SIDS. To date, no direct causal relationship has been established. In fact, the vast majority of infants born to smoking parents do not die of SIDS. And, since many SIDS deaths occur in a smoke-free environment, we must refrain from making smoke exposure appear to be linked to all SIDS deaths.

      The sensational heading for one of your recent Internet reports [07/30] “Smoking Parents Are Killing Their Infants” has gone too far. The fact is, researchers still do not know what causes SIDS. Avoiding known risk factors for SIDS may reduce its incidence for some babies, but offers no guarantee for every baby. Risk factors alone do not cause SIDS.

      No further comment needed.

      Research has found children who breathe in smoke are more likely to get cancer in later life.
      So, WHY do we have so many old people in our society? As babies they all inhaled “SHS” and should have died a long time ago.
      Unless they PROVE that there is a cancer caused SOLELY by SHS their research money (who the hell pays for this rubbish, anyway?) should be put to better use.

  10. Rose says:


    The Mysterious Wentworth Woodhouse

    “Manny Shinwell, the then Labour Party’s Minister of Fuel and Power, instructed open cast mining in the mid 1940’s. It became the largest open cast mining site in Britain with 132,000 tons of coal mined. Shinwell’s intent on destructing the Fitzwilliam’s and “the privileged rich”, ordered the mining right up to its back door. Mining 99 acres of lawns and woods, formal gardens and the show-piece pink shale driveway, debris was piled 50ft high in front of the family’s living quarters causing structural damage, and is the reason today why it has become unsafe”.

    Opencast Operations, Wentworth Woodhouse
    HC Deb 16 April 1946 vol 421 cc2493-4 2493

    Mr. Keeling
    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps have been taken in the last three months to ensure that the opencast mining near Wentworth Woodhouse does not damage this famous Georgian mansion.

    Mr. Shinwell
    I anticipate there will be no damage to the mansion through opencast operations.

    Viscount Hinchingbrooke
    Has the proposal put up by the miners’ leader, Mr. Hall, for winning the coal by normal methods, come before the Minister? Has the Minister rejected it and, if so, on what ground?

    Mr. Shinwell
    The proposal to work the coal from underground came before the Department many months ago, and was rejected on technical grounds.

    Mr. Skeffington-Lodģe
    Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that all alternative means of procuring the coal which is to be obtained from Wentworth Woodhouse have been explored? Many people are exceedingly disturbed at the proposed despoliation of this charming oasis of natural peace.

    Mr. Shinwell
    Of course, every possible alternative has been explored. It is obvious that if we could have secured the coal by other means we should not have adopted this method. As to “spoliation,” we are very anxious to prevent any undue disturbance, and indeed, we are going to do it.

    Mr. Hogg
    Before taking action of this kind does the Minister make it his practice to consult the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and other such bodies?

    Mr. Shinwell
    The decision to work the coal on the Wentworth Woodhouse site was taken by my predecessor, in consultation with the then Minister of Town and Country Planning. I have not consulted the organisations to which the hon. Member referred, but I have consulted the Minister of Town and Country Planning.

    Mr. Eden
    Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it is not a question of blaming this Government or other Governments? I think that the genuine concern is whether amenities that might be preserved for the enjoyment of the nation will be destroyed. How does the Minister explain the views of the Yorkshire miners themselves?

    Mr. Shinwell
    The right hon. Gentleman is ill-informed. The Yorkshire miners have expressed no opinion on this matter. Mr. Hall does not happen to be the Yorkshire miners but the President of the Yorkshire miners, speaking in his individual capacity. I have received no representations against the scheme from the Yorkshire miners or from the National Union of Mineworkers. On the contrary, some of the Yorkshire miners have written to me commending the scheme, in existing circumstances. Nor do I blame my predecessor for what occurred. I merely state the facts. Moreover, it is not for the right hon. Gentleman to complain about blame. I notice that he has been dealing with that subject himself.
    http: //

    Newsreel of open cast mining at Wentworth Woodhouse

    Apparently no one could quite believe it, even miners working there appealed against the destruction of the gardens. The aerial shots of the then continuing destruction are quite shocking to see.

    “OF all the great houses of England, none epitomises the ideals of the 18th-century Whig ascendancy so powerfully as former seat of the Marquesses of Rockingham and Earls Fitzwilliam. With its façade measuring more than 600 ft in length, “country house” seems too tame a description for what is in effect a palace. But for all that, it is one of the country’s great forgotten houses, visited by only a few.

    Most who know of it assume that it has been effectively lost among the sprawling coal pits of South Yorkshire, for the park was ravaged by open-cast mining in the 1950s, when the house was leased to a teacher-training college and its contents removed. But, astonishingly and against the odds, Wentworth Woodhouse has survived”
    http: //

    Apparently, last year it was found to be sinking back into the ground.

    • Rose says:

      This just gets worse and worse.

      Wentworth Woodhouse – Rotherham Archaeological Society

      “In April 1946 Emanuel Shinwell (known as Manny Shinwell),who was the Minister for Fuel and Power, decided that as part of his campaign of class warfare he would mine the coal under the park and house.

      A survey by Sheffield University, commissioned by Peter Wentworth-Fitzwilliam the 8th
      Earl, found that it was low-grade and not worth the effort but this was ignored.

      The post-war Socialist government was determined to break-up what it saw as the privileged elite. He also ignored the pleas of the local miners and their representatives who had always enjoyed excellent relations with the Fitzwilliams who were widely regarded as one of the best mine owners in the

      Joe Hall, Yorkshire branch President of the National Union of Mineworkers said that the “miners in this area will go to almost any length rather than see Wentworth Woodhouse destroyed.
      To many mining communities it is sacred ground” – in an industry known for harsh treatment of workers,the Fitzwilliams were respected employers known for treating their employees well.

      The Yorkshire branch later threatened a strike over the Government’s plans for Wentworth, and Joe Hall wrote personally to Clement Attlee in a futile attempt to stop the mining.

      This spontaneous local activism,founded on the genuine popularity of the Fitzwilliam family amongst locals, was dismissed in Whitehall as “intrigue” sponsored by the Earl.

      Shinwell’s workers destroyed the park which the miners had enjoyed for years and also dumped the spoil to within yards of the house.

      Rather than live there the family moved out – though not before securing the use of the house as a teacher training college (Lady Mabel College) which probably saved the house from demolition.”

      Click to access WentworthWoodhouse.pdf

      This must be how Shinwell managed to do get away with it.

      “Coal reserves were nationalised in 1942 and placed under the control of the Coal Commission, but the mining industry itself remained in private hands. Many of the coal companies were very small, although consolidation was underway in the years running up to nationalisation.

      The National Coal Board (NCB) was the statutory corporation created to run the nationalised coal mining industry in the United Kingdom.
      Set up under the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946, it took over the mines on “vesting day”, 1 January 1947.”

      So as the house lay over a coal seam, Shinwell could give orders to mine right up to the front door.

  11. garyk30 says:

    Things are bad in America tooo.

    “Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tells MSNBC regulations create jobs because a business will have to hire people to help them comply with the new requirements.”

    And, of course, we will need to hire more govt workers to make certain the regs are being complied with.

    None of these new hires will produce an iota of usable product; but, they will drive up the cost of goods and cause our taxes to be increased.

    This dude would be a worthy successor to the present incumbent.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Owebama proves one thing correct,ANYBODY CAN BE A PRESIDENT but not just anybody can be a LEADER!

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        He aint no leader,he is pushing for DICTATOR!

      • beobrigitte says:

        Owebama proves one thing correct,ANYBODY CAN BE A PRESIDENT but not just anybody can be a LEADER!

        I find it hard to understand this guy – He unveiled a ROSA PARKS’s statue, yet he kicks people in the face.
        Maybe I am wrong; there is no segregation of smokers/non-smokers in buses (there is non here, either!) so smokers do not have to get up and give a seat to non-smokers. The bus is NON-SMOKING.
        He happily sanctions a “denormalisation programme” that clearly states that smokers have to be treated as outcasts. Explain.

        And, whilst we are on that subject; can Obama explain why he cut funds to support the so called “retards”? They do exist; they themselves do not know WHY they exist. But they do know that they are rejected. It’s the same Obama (and the other, anti-smoking infected governments) have in store for us smokers.

        This is for the Americans with their current debate about guns.
        Yesterday this was in the news:

        It is lamented that most families own a NUMBER guns inherited from previous generations. There has never been such an incident there for as long as I live.
        First question:
        Why do people NOWAYS go off the rails and shoot? Has their comfort zone been invaded too much?
        Next question:
        Is the anti-gun-lobby in full swing? Why? Most of Europe already has a gun law! It worked just fine until the various governments started to scare people.
        Fazit: fear mongering kills more people than any disease ever could.

        I, personally, will never own a gun. But this is MY decision. It might change when I need to shoot my dinner. (Thanks Harley for the link to the road kill cooking book – I hate to see so much waste of food on our roads!)

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          roflmao! The road kill book was for frank to have a laugh and everyone else. But it can be essential when hard times hit,like when we make refugee status.

        • Rose says:

          We may have lost our guns but at least we still know how to make the great British longbow if the need arises.
          They’ll have to go along way before they get down to banning trees and string.

        • beobrigitte says:

          We may have lost our guns but at least we still know how to make the great British longbow if the need arises.

          It might be a British thing; nevertheless, I have the 2 fingers intact to join.

  12. beobrigitte says:

    The time is ripe for a new Party to emerge.

    I second that!!!! I am hoping for one which applies COMMON SENSE!!

    And if they have become these things, it’s in large part because they now get most of their advice from NGOs – like ASH, and Greenpeace, and the WHO. As their party membership (with its valuable advice) melted away, they listened more and more to lobby groups of one sort or other, most of them pursuing some utopian fantasy (like a ‘smokefree’ world).

    I guess, string puppets are earning a good wage. The public NEEDS a transparency law with respect to who is lobbying for what and HOW MUCH this is going to cost the tax payer.
    he public has a RIGHT to know these things.

    It would seem that more and more SMOKING IS BECOMING A SYMBOL of freedom. Yesterday the BBC covered Syria – they forgot to edit out the smokers living in a cave.
    Bliar was stating in the BBC News that ACTION is needed in Syria to give the people their freedom again. (I cannot find this particular interview to put a link up.)

    No, Mr. Bliar. Wasn’t it Assad who brought in the smoking ban there in order to make the country “safer” and protect the chiiiildren from fictitious second hand smoke?
    FACT: you invade people’s COMFORT ZONES and you easily get that people no longer put up with everything else going wrong.
    Mr. Cameron, remember this when it comes to the smoking ban INSIDE PEOPLE’S PRIVATE PROPERTY!
    You are going. Definitely. And you take that other, currently with the issue of a women groping MP pre-occupied deputy with you.

    “I shot the sheriff but I did not kill the deputy”
    (The deputy committed political suicide in 2010 when he not only denied the review of the smoking ban, he threw it in with the death penalty)

    I am all for giving UKIP a chance.
    Quite frankly, although I am a German national, I doubt he’d send me back to where I came from; I am a tax payer living independent of the state. I pay my tobacco tax, income tax and contribute (happily!) to a benefit system for less fortunate people. (Not everybody is a lucky as I have been!!)

    • Rose says:

      Brigitte, you are not a mass migration so I don’t think it applies.
      This is why people are worried, they don’t want it to happen again.

      Labour wanted mass immigration to make UK more multicultural, says former adviser – Oct 2009

      “Labour threw open Britain’s borders to mass immigration to help socially engineer a “truly multicultural” country, a former Government adviser has revealed”

      “The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country and “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”, according to Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett.

      He said Labour’s relaxation of controls was a deliberate plan to “open up the UK to mass migration” but that ministers were nervous and reluctant to discuss such a move publicly for fear it would alienate its “core working class vote”.

      “This Government has admitted three million immigrants for cynical political reasons concealed by dodgy economic camouflage.”

      The chairmen of the cross-party Group for Balanced Migration, MPs Frank Field and Nicholas Soames, said: “We welcome this statement by an ex-adviser, which the whole country knows to be true”.

      And anyone who objected got shouted down, same as usual.

      There’s no way small towns can absorb so many over such a short time, if they all go to the same places and especially if language is a problem.
      But I don’t think the previous government ever thought of that.

      • beobrigitte says:

        Good point, Rose.

        Regardless where in Europe you are; once you have mass immigration, the local population experiences more than just upheaval. Cultural differences often cause upsets.
        I have no problem living next to Muslim neigbours as long as they do respect and do not indicate a shift in my religious belief. I am a Christian. I have no time for veils, (less even for forcing my daughter into a marriage) and will insist that this is a Christian Country, so I expect them to abide by Christian rules. After all, in Saudi Arabia I cannot drive a car for the fact of being female. There is no excemption made for me there.
        Do not get me wrong, I do have muslim colleagues who I do respect a great deal. I usually cover for them at Ramadan and they cover for me at Christmas. Both do look like “Mullahs” and I did at some point state that if I have to remove the cross I wear on a chain around my neck, I will insist that their beard comes off. Health and safety measures, of course. Both are likeable people who do live amongst English people like I do. English is the only language we can communicate in!
        I believe that people inciting hatred against against our Christian society should be moved to a country catering for their ideas. (Isn’t Abu Hamza living on a CHRISTIAN society’s benefits here in England?)

        I don’t think that individuals from another countries are a problem but they will become a problem once their influx exceeds any local area’s capacity.

  13. cherie79 says:

    Obama’s re-election proved that everything I admired and thought I knew about America was wrong. I never understood how he was elected in the first place with no experience and no record, attractive yes and expert at reading the teleprompter but what else? it seems to me that his whole Presidency has been a non stop campaign with absolutely no real governing. I studied US politics and have always followed them closely, I just can’t believe what is happening apparently with the approval of just over half the country, amazing. Reminds me a bit of another charasmatic politician, Tony Blair, though he was less divisive than Obama. I am also a ex political junkie, now I am just past caring, the rise of the in some other area for 20 years before they can stand, couldn’t be worse.

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    Boy you dont know just how true that is,smokers were the first victims of todays Nannystate! We should reap the first liberation.

  15. waltc says:

    Yes I, too, am struck by the parallels between your 20th C political history and ours. (Reagan, like Thatcher, only got in because the country was at last sick of the impotent Carter but I fear we’ve bred a new generation of people too lazy to even become disengaged– let alone angry– since they were never engaged to begin with. ) The first poster on this thread (Dave from MI) gives an accurate picture of how things are going.

    I had– still have– (a few) hopes for the Tea Party but it was rough-housed by the press and the usual demagogues and perhaps took it too seriously and seems to have been muted. No balls here at all. And yes, the R’s and D’s have more or less morphed into a single monolithic Ruling Class, pretty much along the Soviet model. The only potential candidate I could get it up to vote for next time around would be Rand Paul.

    The poem, as long as we’re quoting, that strikes me as most fitting description of the times is Yeats’s The Second Coming, from which come the lines,

    “The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

  16. harleyrider1978 says:

    Federal Government Continues Progress to Prevent Tobacco-Caused Disease While States Fall Tragically Short

    “President Obama’s administration has confronted the tobacco epidemic head-on,” said Charles D. Connor, American Lung Association president and CEO.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced an initiative to ban smoking from college campuses last month. This is part of the HHS goal to create a society free of tobacco-related disease and death, according to their action plan released by the HHS in 2010.

    Colleges who fail to enact campus-wide smoking bans and other tobacco-free policies may soon face the loss of grants and contracts from the HHS, according to the plan. Western receives grants through a subdivision of the HHS called the National Institutes of Health, Acting Vice Provost for Research Kathleen Kitto said.

    Obama administration to push for eliminating smoking on college campuses

    Read more: … z29zJ2V2TV


    the CDC and other federal agencies have been dooling out grant money to city, county, and other local governments that adopt smoking bans, not to mention to anti-smoking coalitions who push for stricter smoking bans. It’s been happening in both the Saint Louis area, plus also in the Myrtle Beach area. I’ll note that these aren’t the only 2 areas of the country where these ban grants have been given to a smoking ban coalition.

    Articles proving it’s been happening(wasteful grant money being given to anti groups pushing for smoking bans, plus waving financial grants to communities that ultimately decide to ban smoking) in both parts of the country(grant money going to both Tobacco-Free Saint Louis in the Saint Louis area, and Smoke-Free Horry in the Myrtle Beach/Conway area)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department was in a new dispute Friday with the tobacco industry over the government’s landmark lawsuit against the companies.

    The government has prepared corrective statements it wants the companies to be forced to make about the health hazards from smoking. But the tobacco companies don’t want those proposed statements put in the public record before they get a chance to review them.

    FORCED TO MAKE…….SOUNDS like somebodys not playing fair doesnt it.So if the tobacco companies make statements then the nazi anti-smokers get to say see even the tobacco companies admit this!!!!! force isnt that what hitler did at bayonet point!

    U.S. Judge Orders Tobacco Companies to Admit Deception and Tell the Truth to the American People

    A federal judge today ordered tobacco companies to admit that they have deliberately deceived the American public and finally tell the truth about their deadly and addictive products and fraudulent marketing. Today’s ruling is a critical step toward ending decades of tobacco industry deception that has resulted in millions of premature deaths, untold suffering and billions in health care costs. Requiring the tobacco companies to finally tell the truth is a small price to pay for the devastating consequences of their wrongdoing.

    Today’s ruling spells out the corrective statements U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler first ordered tobacco companies to make in 2006 when she found them guilty of violating civil racketeering laws and engaging in a decades-long fraud to deceive the American people.

    The Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund (a 501c4 affiliate of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids) is one of six public health groups that Judge Kessler allowed to intervene in the case, along with the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and National African American Tobacco Prevention Network.

    SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

  17. smokervoter says:

    I’m going to expound a bit on Alex Jones and his ascendant liberty movement following if I might. His heart is in the right place, he absolutely, positively detests control-freaks down to the very ground they tread on and the air that they breath.

    On the other hand, I can easily imagine him amicably chit-chatting on air with Stanton Glantz. They’d be trading quips about how evil Big Tobacco conspired to hook everyone on smoking and how they’re indeed part of the New World Order. Alex and he would ramble on about fresh, clean air and the benefits of organic fruits and vegetables. They’d hug and wish each other A Nice Day. And now a word from Alex’s Youngevity sponsor.

    Now imagine an interview with Nigel Farage in which Nige sparks up a Rothman’s. I could hear Alex asking him to put it out immediately, that it’s killing him (Nigel) and Alex as well. He’d rail on about how unhealthy smoking is and ignore Farage’s basically libertarian message in the process. Hopefully, to my thinking anyway, Nige would pull the plug on the interview and wish Alex – A Nice (Yellow Smiley Face) Day.

    It should prove instructional to the confused liberty movement followers who don’t seem to realize that the authoritarian thugs they so despise had their very roots in the Non-Smokers Rights movement that Glantz and Banzhaf launched in the mid 70s.

    I say should. I doubt it would. Antismoking brainwashing runs very deep and the Health and Safety Twist is the latest, greatest dance craze sweeping the world.

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