Hamsters, lions, lemmings, donkeys
Devastating news. An article - ‘The shocking history of Tory Party anti-Semitism’ - on the Jewish Voice for Labour website mentions one Charles Challen MP. The relevant part reads ‘In October 1945, an antisemitic petition was drawn up by residents of Hampstead, with the help of the Conservative MP for Orpington, Waldron Smithers, requesting “that aliens of Hampstead should be repatriated to assure men and women of the Forces should have accommodation upon their return” from World War II. The petition was signed by Sydney A. Boyd, the anti-Semitic Conservative mayor of Hampstead, and was backed by the Conservative members of the council. Charles Challen, Hampstead’s Conservative MP, promised to give the petition his “unstinting support.”’ It seems incredible that anyone in parliament, after knowledge of the Holocaust became widespread could express such views. What did they think the war was about? The article goes on to demonstrate how the Tories have not freed themselves of such anti-semitic opinions, not that that seems to interest many people these days. But also disappointing for me, aside from the fact that someone who shares my name could be a) a Tory MP and b) anti-semitic is the fact that my long held belief that I was the first Challen to enter parliament has been shattered. There is for example no mention of Charles Challen on the list of MPs on Wikipedia (which acknowledges it is incomplete). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_Kingdom_MPs:_C Thankfully, there is no evidence we are related. The only MP who previously appeared in my family tree married into a branch of the family—Sir Robert Bird, another Tory, possibly better known as the custard magnate.
It seems the Tories are confused about Britain’s mammalian status. I mentioned yesterday how in a letter to voters from Boris Johnson he said that Britain was like ‘a hamster on the wheel of doom.’ But I read in the Guardian Review this morning an article comparing party manifestos where the Tories’ effort claimed that we feel trapped, ‘like a lion in a cage.’ So what kind of mammal are we? It would be too clichéd to say that under the Tories we would be (are) like lemmings. Perhaps the title of one of the late Tory MP Alan Clark’s books could be pressed into service: Lions led by donkeys.
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