Thursday, April 12, 2007

"There Is Nothing As Ex As An Ex-MP" : Tam Dalyell

Packing Up

I am now entering my 3rd year as an ex-MP. Yesterday was the second anniversary of my clearing out of the Commons when its facilities and the magic initials were taken away from me at precisely 5pm. That was when the material on my Commons Computer was wiped.

Ann was with me and our final farewell was to Kevin McNamara who was also retiring. He was the first MP Ann had ever voted for in the famous Hull By-election 40 years earlier. Labour's handsome victory (thanks to Barbara Castles' decision to provide them with a Humber Bridge) led to Harold Wilson deciding to call a victorious General Election in 1966.

Time Flys

Thanks to my being older than Ann, my own first vote was for Manny Shinwell in the Easington Constituency in 1959. I later came to occupy his seat in the Commons when he finally moved on to become a back-bencher. But I was determined not to try to emulate his decision to hold on until the age of 86.

My spell as MP was a modest 18 years compared to Kevin's 40 and 44 by Manny.

Since that day, time has passed in a flash. The only thing I seriously miss about the place is the access to the Commons's Library and to its Researchers who can provide an MP with all sorts of relevant information if asked. It would be a bloggers dream - except that existing MPs should have different priorities.

There is plenty time for blogging when the day is done.


calgacus said...

Was this written by Tam or by you Harry? Either way i know people (myself among them) still know who Tam Dalyell is who have no idea who half the current MPs are - and what's more they respect Tam Dalyell much more than most of them.

I suspect the same goes for you too Harry,


Harry Barnes said...

The quote is from Tam. He said it immediately after ceasing to be an MP in 2005.

In 1988. after I was MP for a year, a survey asked me who I admired as an MP and I replied "Tam Dalyell". Not because I always agreed with him but because of the importance he gave to using, preserving and advancing parliamentary democracy. If you had an issue to pursue, then Tam's lesson was to keep on at in different formal and informal parliamentary avenues because only a few heard you at any specific time.