Posts Tagged ‘Country Party’

After Slavery, the West Indies Had Black Politicians

June 19, 2020

Following the Black Lives Matter protests in Britain has come the debate about the teaching of Black history in schools. There was an item about this on BBC news earlier this week. Some schools already teach it, including the Black British experience but also the Black kingdoms in Africa, which is taught before going on to slavery. There were comments from Black students, who said that it had boosted their self-esteem. However, not all schools teach it and there have been calls from Black politicos to make it compulsory.

But Caribbean history may also provide useful role models and inspiration for Black Britons. What isn’t really appreciated is that shortly after the abolition of slavery in 1837, Black West Indians elected Black and biracial ‘coloured’ politicians to protect them from the planters’ attempts to force them back into servitude. Gad Heuvelmans mentions this development in The Caribbean: A Brief History, 2nd edition (London: Bloomsbury 2014). He writes

Strikes and riots were one form of response of the ex-slaves to emancipation; another was challenging the political domination of the planters. This took the form of electing black and brown representatives to the local Assemblies. Although not forming a single political bloc, black and brown Assemblymen generally supported government policies. Moreover, they could be significant: in Dominica, for example, coloured representatives formed a majority in the Assembly. Their presence prevented the passage of harsh legislation against the ex-slaves which characterized many other West Indian colonies.

In Jamaica, the coloured and black members of the Assembly united to form the Town Party, a faction which opposed the predominately planters’ Country Party. The coloureds favoured funds being spent on education, resisted expensive immigration schemes, and sought to counter planter attempts to restrict the franchise. Moreover, the coloureds also voted against measures to shift the burden of taxation almost entirely onto small settlers. Brown and black representatives did remain a minority in the Jamaican House of Assembly, but as tehir numbers increased, the planters became increasingly alarmed about the possibility of being outnumbered. (p.113).

I’ve known Black educators and historians get frustrated about the lack of awareness of this aspect of West Indian history. One of the experts, who also worked at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum was a Black historian from the West Indies. He used to give talks regularly to Bristol’s Black community was active in several Black improvement programmes. I remember him telling me how exasperated he got when he was talking to a young man, who blamed the problems of the Black community on slavery. He told the young man that that was no explanation as they had Black politicians immediately after slavery.

I think this is right. You can’t put all of the problems of the western Black communities down to slavery. Some of it is also due general racism, and the oppressive measures the planter elites imposed to try and force Black West Indians back onto the plantation under their control. But just as they had strongly resisted slavery, so the newly emancipated Black population turned to politics and got themselves and their representatives elected to resist attempts to disenfranchise them. No small achievement! I don’t want to be accused of telling Black people what they should or shouldn’t do to improve their condition, but perhaps it would give more Black Britons hope and inspiration if they knew more about this.

Another nation that might also provide useful role models might be Ghana. As the former Gold Coast, in the 1920s this had a remarkably enlightened governor for the time. It was the first British colony to appoint indigenous people as members of its governing council. I think its governor also wrote a book on racism in the 1940s, with the title of ‘Colour Prejudice’ or ‘Colour Issue’ or something like it. This included not only examples of White racism, but also Blacks against Whites. He quotes the 14th century Arab traveler ibn Battuta on the racism towards Whites of the people of the Black African kingdom of Mali.  This was something like ‘They would be great Muslims, if they didn’t treat Whites with such contempt’.

And regardless of skin colour, I wish there was more of the spirit of the Town Party today. We need more spent on education, just as we need more spent on welfare and the NHS. We need to stop the Tories shifting the tax burden onto the poor instead of the rich.

And the Tories are doing what they can to disenfranchise and force into servitude Britain’s working people, all while trying to preserve a facade of freedom.

 

 

Ian Blackford Shreds May’s ‘Strong and Stable’ Slogan

December 5, 2018

Remember when the Tories were trying to fool the public into thinking that May was ‘strong and stable’ repeating this at every opportunity? This was supposed to be in contrast to Jeremy Corbyn. It was a slogan that was particularly applied to the relationship with Europe. Europe, we were told, would prefer to deal with a ‘strong and stable’ Europe under May.

Mike sent up that slogan after it became abundantly clear that May is anything but. He called her ‘weak and wobbly’. Which is what she is. Instead of being a ‘bloody awkward woman’ who would get the best deal she could from the EU, she was reduced to following the EU president around pleading with him to give her something. She could not be told that the EU was under absolutely no obligation to give her any kind of deal or offer of one.

This video from RT, again of just under a minute long, show Ian Blackford standing up in parliament today to shred May’s precious slogan. He says

Mr Speaker, we were promised strong and stable, what we have is a government in crisis. A government that has lost two Brexit Secretaries, a Home Secretary, a Foreign Secretary, a Work and Pensions Secretary. A government that has suffered from three consecutive defeats in just two hours. The first government to do so, Mr Speaker, in 40 years. And now a government found in contempt of Parliament. Is it time that the Prime Minister took responsibility for concealing the facts on her Brexit deal from members of this House and the public. Will she take responsibility?

As you can see, it’s quite a funny video. When Blackford itemizes the various cabinet ministers she’s lost, their faces pop up below him while a tinkling piano plays sad music, like the theme from Love Story. Then the shots of May’s Tories are shown in black and white, as if it’s all in mourning.

But there’s a very serious side to this. The Tories have created a situation that has split England dangerously from the rest of the UK, as well as Gibraltar, never mind about the rest of the EU. Cameron did so solely for his own advantage as leader of the Tory party. It allowed just over half of the British public to be seriously misled by a ‘Leave’ campaign that lied about the scale of migration from the EU and fraudulently claimed that once we left, 350 million pounds a year would be saved and put back into the Health Service. This was plastered all over the sides of buses by Boris Johnson and his crew, who then denied that they had made any such promise at all. And then after issuing the denial, Boris Johnson, the man who would be the next Prime Minister then went back and repeated the original lie.

And with Brexit and the farcical deal May has negotiated, people have been advised to stock up on food and medicines, as these may be in short supply after Brexit. The curbs on migration from the EU will prevent badly needed workers coming to Britain to supply staff for the NHS. Not that the Tories are going to be too worried about that. They are actively running it down ready for privatization.

People are worried about prices going up, which will once again hit those on low wages, which the Tories have insisted on throughout the last eight years in order to keep labour cheap and disposable, and profits high for employers. Businesses worry about finding staff, and being able to export their goods to the continent. Or import from there the raw materials they need.

It’s a mess. And it is solely due to the Tories.

May was never ‘strong and stable’. It wasn’t even an original slogan, as the Australian spin doctor who came up with it had previously used it to garner support for the Country Party – Australia’s Tories – Down Under. And it didn’t work down there either.

May and the Tories have lied, and deceived not only the general public but also parliament. Meanwhile, half her cabinet appear to have jumped ship like rats before May finally goes down.

And that can’t come too soon. May should go down, and the rest of her wretched, deceitful, mendacious, vicious and incompetent party with her.

When Were The Tories Ever the Party of the Poor?

March 14, 2016

Since David Cameron took over the Tories, they’ve been claiming that they’re the real party of the poor and the working class. Various Tory politicos have gone around speaking behind banners saying ‘For Hardworking People’. One of the leading Tory politicos made a speech, claiming that they were the party of the poor and workers, because they stood for tax cuts, which allowed the poor to keep more of their hard-earned moolah.

It’s a risible claim. The Tory party emerged in the late 17th century as the party of the monarchy, the aristocracy and the Anglican church. Its immediate predecessor was the Country party, who were disposed royalist gentry. Throughout the 18th and 19th century the Conservatives were thoroughly aristocratic, as indeed was parliament in general. It was also quite normal for the Prime Minister to be a member of the House of Lords, something that has since been forbidden by the British constitution. The modern Conservative party has changed its class composition slightly through the entrance of business people in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who would earlier have been members of the Liberals. And there are one or two working class Tories on the green benches in parliament, such as Nadine Dorries, who apparently comes from a council estate. Working class support for the Conservatives was built up in the late 19th century by Disraeli. But despite this, the Tories still remain the party of the rich, the aristocracy and business. You can see that in the leadership of the Tory party – Cameron, Osborne and many others are pukka old Etonians.

‘Gracchus’, the pseudonymous author of the 1944 book, Your MP, also makes a point of the wealthy background of Tory MPs, listing a few. These include:

Arthur Balfour, who was among other things, director of the National Provincial bank, and who had not only his own company, but was also the chairman of two steel firms;

Lady Astor was a viscountess, and Col. J.J. Astor was given £1,400,000 in 1915 by his father. An exorbitant sum for the time. When he died, his father also left Astor and his brother a fortune of $40 million;

R.A.B. Butler married one of the Courtaulds. In 1928 the Courtauld Company gave its shareholders a bonus of £12 million, and the shares held by the family were estimated to have a market value of £11 million;

Sir Ronald Cross was a merchant banker and the grandson of the founder of the largest cotton manufacturer in Lancashire;

Brigadier-General W. Alexander (Glasgow Central), was a director of British Celanese, which had a capital of £9 million. He was also the deputy director of an oil company, and had been a director of Charles Tennant & Co. Ltd;

Irving Albery (Gravesend) was a member of the Stock Exchange, and senior partner in the family firm of I. Albery & Co. Ltd.

John Anderson (Scottish Universities) was a director of the armaments firm, Vickers, and the chemical company, ICI;

Ralph Assheton (Rushcliffe) came from one of the oldest aristocratic families in Britain. He married a daughter of Lord Hotham, also an ancient aristocratic family. Both families had been sending MPs to parliament since 1324, though Ralph Assheton had rather come down in their world, working as a member of the Stock Exchange.

Adrian Baillie (Tonbridge), was left a fortune of £140,000 by his brother. His wife was the daughter of Lord Queenborough, and heiress to an American multi-millionaire, Whitney. Lady Baillie owned Leeds castle in Kent, where Hitler’s racial ideologue, Alfred Rosenberg, was a guest in 1933.

Brograve Beauchamp (Walthamstow East) married the daughter of the Earl of Carnarvon. R.E.B. Beaumont was the son of Viscount Allendale, who bequeathed him £200,000. Alfred Beit (St. Pancras South East) was the director of a number of investment trusts, and was left £3,500,000 by his father. Lt.-Col. D. Boles (Wells), was an old Etonian, so obviously very rich. L.H. Boyce was chairman of the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company, along with seven other firms.

R.A. Brabner (Hythe) was a merchant banker.

Major A.N. Braithwaite (Buckrose) was director of Guardian Eastern Insurance co. Ltd, as well as a number of brick companies, and a director of Sir Lindsay Parkinson & Co. Ltd.

William Brass (Clitheroe) was an estate agent, and director of the Guardian Assurance Company.

George Broadbridge (City of London) was a tin magnate and Lord Mayor of London in 1936;

Captain Bartle Bull (Enfield) was the heir of Canadian millionaire. His wife was a Miss Baur of Chicago, who herself inherited £500,000.

G.R. Hall Caine (Dorset, East) was a director of nine or ten companies.

Colonel W.H. Carver (Howdenshire) was a director of the LNER and a brewery.

R.A. Cary (Eccles) married the niece of Lord Curzon.

Somerset S. de Chair, (Norfolk South West) was the son of an admiral.

H. Channon (Southend-on-Sea) married Lady Honor Guinness, and was a friend of Ribbentrop’s.

Lt.-Col. R.S. Clarke (East Grinstead) also was the director of a couple of companies.

R. Clarry (Newport) was managing director of the Duffryn Steel and Tin Plate Works, and the director of a number of other firms.

Sir Thomas Cook (Norfolk North) was the grandson of the Thomas Cook, who founded the travel agency.

Duff Cooper is brother-in-law to the Duke of Rutland and nep0hew of the Duke of Fife.

Colonel George Courthope (Rye), belonged to another ancient aristocratic family that had owned land since 1493. He was a former chairman of the Central Landowners’ Association, and director of the Southern Railway, chairman of Ind Cooper and Alsop, the great pub chain.

Captain H.B. Trevor Cox (Stalybridge and Hyde) was another company director.

Lord C. Crichton-Stuart was the son of the Marquess of Bute. His wife was the Marchioness of Lansdowne, and inherited a cool million from his father.

J.F.E. Crowder (Finchley) was a member of Lloyds.

Against them, there were a number of Tory MPs from working class backgrounds. These were Sir Walter Womersley (Grimsby), Mr Denville (Newcastle Central) and Mr Rowlands (Flint). But, he concludes There may be another Tory MP or two who started with the advantages and disadvantages of ordinary men. Among the National Liberals, Mr Ernest Brown, part of whose job used to be to build us houses-in twos, or even in half-dozens-seems to have done so. Research fails to find any more.

This is not to say that the Tories haven’t been touchy about representing the interests of the rich and powerful. When Randolph Churchill, one of the two Tory MPs for Preston, said that the Conservatives in recent years had “had tended more and more to be identified with the propertied classes, and that those who dominated and controlled the Party had served the interests of a purse-proud, acquisitive and selfish minority”, the other Tory MP for the constituency, Captain Cobb, declared that his comment was ‘an insult to the electors’.

Well, Randolph Churchill’s comment was true then, and it’s just as true now. Winston Churchill himself declared, when he was a Liberal, that the Tories were the party of the rich against the poor. And in the century since, nothing has changed, despite the denials and slogans of Cameron, Osbo and co.