Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Let Them Eat Kale

The LibDem official Twitter account has been tweeting against allowing the "Eat Out to Help Out" scheme being used for McDonald's, KFC, and the like. Apparently having a cheap treat in the midst of one of the most miserable periods of post-war history will bring the NHS crashing down and cause everyone to suddenly become morbidly obese and die of Coronavirus, or something like that.

On the 4th of July Munira Wilson, LibDem spokesperson for Health and Social Care, tweeted about a lovely meal she'd had with her family, including those well-known heath foods, burgers, waffles, and icecream. The restaurant (which is now taking part in Eat Out to Help Out) charges over £14 for burger and chips (service not included). The wine list on their website doesn't give the prices, but I suspect the Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label is rather more than the £1.69 McDonald's charge for a milkshake. 

Now I've nothing against Munira enjoying a good meal out with her family, and I'm genuinely happy for her that she can afford to spend so much money on a treat. I wish more people could. What I can never accept is a policy directly targeting poorer people, seeking to deny them choices that the well-off take for granted, and shaming them for "eating the wrong things". 

Some of us remember the ideal of the "Free Breakfast Table" and, going further back, the campaign against the Corn Laws. We as a Party have a proud tradition of trying to make food more affordable for the people who struggle the most. Let's not abandon that for a joyless, puritanical, and frankly mean-spirited "we know better than you" policy. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The People's Insurance, by David Lloyd George

I was very pleased today to receive The People's Insurance by David Lloyd George. Originally published in 1912 it explains the scheme of National Insurance and National Health Insurance introduced by the Liberal Government in 1911. As well as speeches by Lloyd George both in the House and in the country, it includes extracts from explanatory memoranda issued by the government, as well as the text of the Act.

My copy is a modern print-on-demand facsimile produced by Gyan Books in India. Usually I prefer to buy originals, but this work is vanishingly rare. It's a handsomely produced volume, leather-bound, and clearly printed. The binding is sewn, and it lies flat. It makes an attractive addition to my shelves. I must say I am impressed, and shall be seriously considering further books from them - both for works I cannot find (or afford) originals of, and for reading copies of some of my more fragile books.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Lloyd George Knew Her Husband*

My pursuit of the writings of David Lloyd George has turned up Then and Now - Economic Problems after the War a Hundred Years Ago by Mrs H. A. L. Fisher, with an introduction by Lloyd George. Fisher compares the economic disruption following the Napoleonic Wars with that following the First World War. Lettice Fisher was an economist and historian, and chaired the executive of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies.

During the Great War she was a welfare worker amongst the munitionettes of Sheffield. The hardships she saw suffered by unmarried mothers led her to found the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child, providing practical support to single mothers, as well as campaigning for reform of the Bastardy Acts. It is now Gingerbread.

Her husband, the historian H. A. L. Fisher, was appointed President of the Board of Education by Lloyd George in 1916. He raised the school-leaving age to 14, established the Burnham Scales for teachers' pay, and introduced a national pension scheme for teachers. His underwear played an important role in the Second World War, but that, oh best beloved, is another story.

My copy was withdrawn from John Ryland's Library. I'll be posting some thoughts on library disposals another day.

* Sorry about the title, I couldn't resist it.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Lloyd George Knew His Father

While browsing The Times digital archive the other day I came across a letter calling for a memorial to the poet Edward Thomas. It particularly caught my eye as it was signed by Stanley Baldwin and David Lloyd George, two very unlikely bedfellows. I asked the Edward Thomas Fellowship if they knew anything more about it. They were able to tell me both that this was the appeal which led to the memorial on Shoulder of Mutton Hill, above Thomas's home in Steep, and that Lloyd George knew Edward Thomas's father. Philip Henry Thomas, a civil servant, was a Liberal, standing for Clapham in the 1918 general election. He had known Lloyd George for some time before this, and they even used to travel together into London to work. 

Lloyd George was also to write a foreword to John Moore's Life and Letters of Edward Thomas in 1939. I shall have to look out for a copy. 

In Memoriam: Easter 1915

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again

Monday, 29 June 2020

Books and rumours of books

One of the most frustrating things about book collecting is chasing books which turn out to (probably) not exist at all. You see them as results in Amazon searches, but they are never available, they may even be even cited in other works, but you find no trace of them in any copyright library. You may even find an ISBN or an entry in a publisher's catalogue - but even those trails peter out eventually.

For the student of David Lloyd George this adds to other frustrations - the unfortunate deaths of various biographers before they complete their planned series, the lack of bibliographical information about Lloyd George's own works (let alone an index of his numerous writings for newspapers and magazines), and the shear volume of works about him over the years. Just the other day I found a reference to The Future of Liberalism, a pamphlet of speeches by Lloyd George in Manchester, Oxford, and Llandrindod Wells, which not only had I never heard of before, but of which I can find no trace beyond its advertisement in the Lloyd George Liberal Magazine. At thruppence a copy post free it sounds like excellent value.

Two books, or rumours of books, stand out in particular. Collected Speeches of David Lloyd George, and Collected Correspondence of David Lloyd George and Winston S. Churchill, 1904-1945, both by Ian Hunter (whose Winston and Archie: The Letters of Winston Churchill and Archibald Sinclair certainly exists and which I have just ordered). Both would be of immense value to anyone interested in Lloyd George, the history of Liberalism and the Welfare State, and indeed to Churchill aficionados. I once saw the Collected Correspondence advertised on (I think) Portuguese Amazon, but I lacked the funds at the time for the £80 asked.

Still, I suppose it gives one something to hope for - one day a lucky google, or the back room of a dusty bookshop, will turn up something I had become convinced did not exist.