Whatever happened to them?

Posted by Helen Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Backbenchers that is. Yes, they exist but do they have any importance? This melancholy thought occurred to me as I read the obituary of Sir Anthony Beaumont-Dark, in his day a well-known backbench MP and, as the Daily Telegraph diplomatically puts it, “an outspoken and populist” one at that.

“Outspoken and populist” comes into the same category as “frank and open”. In other words, the man was rude about anyone he did not quite approve of. And despite his denials, it is clear that many of those off the cuff comments were made with the newspapers or, at least, their gossip columns, in mind.

His views seem to have been rather “wet” Tory, protectionist, statist, suspicious of trade. One could argue that he represented the point of view of the very old-fashioned Tory squirearchy.

One of his comments caught my attention and prompted the musings at the top:

“I believe a backbench MP who is prepared to stick his neck out plays just as important a part as a cabinet minister whom nobody remembers.”
As it happens, he probably did not play quite as important a part as that would indicate but he fought his corner and made his views clear. What else should politicians be doing? And who remembers the ministers he tussled with?


  1. Iain Dale Says:
  2. I didn't know he had died. I hesitate to speak ill of the dead, but he really was the definition of 'renataquote'. But with his majority, it was probably the only way he thought he could hold his seat. Even that didn't work.

  3. Helen Says:
  4. I was trying to be polite about him personally. It is a little sad that being a "rentaquote" is the only way a bachbencher can make a mark. Still, could have been worse. Think of Sir Gerald Nabarro.

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