Parliament, Then and Now

Our learned commentators had an interesting exchange about John Buchan (ennobled as Lord Tweedsmuir) following my recommendation of the movie The 39 Steps. This inspired me to visit the recollections so well-assembled in Pilgrim’s Way. In the course of his very productive life, Lord Tweedsmuir found time to serve for a period in Parliament. His political career was respectable but not much more than that. However, the observations about British politics in his memoir show remarkable insight. My favorite anecdote from this section of the book is from the year that the murderous Dr. Crippen was hanged.

A group of working class men were seated on the train, smoking their pipes and reading their halfpenny papers. At last, one of them flung down his journal in disgust. ‘Wot I says,’ he exclaimed, ‘is to ‘ell with the lot of ’em – Asquith and Lloyd George and Carson and Crippen – the ‘ole bleedin’ lot!” Upon which there was a general protest. “Ere, wot ‘arm’s old Crippen done?”

On to the present moment. My family and I move to London tomorrow, and I do not expect to post for some time as a result. However, the passing of the great Jim Wilson makes me want to reveal that I will be in Parliament all of next week, plumping for a 24/7 sobriety bill. My briefings for MPs and Lords always begin with an explanation of what’s wrong with our current criminal justice system, which I summarize using a memorable Wilson quote that everyone gets:

The current justice system is like a parent who wants a child to straighten up his messy room and therefore says ‘Johnny, if you don’t clean up your room tonight there is a 40% chance that 6 months from now I will ground you for a decade.’

Ta for now.