Sunday, 31 August 2008

Labor Day Weekend

The last weekend before the summer is over - but as you'll notice from the newspapers - politics in the USA is already is top gear. Britain too is in the middle of a busy period - today's headlines are full of the current woes of the government.

The European Parliament has a plenary session in Brussels this week, whilst Monday sees an extraordinary meeting of the European Council in the same city.

The Republican Convention is due to start tomorrow - though may be modified or postponed in light of Hurricane Gustav.

The website for the convention can be found at http://www.gopconvention2008.com/

The latest on Gustav can be followed at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_at2.shtml?5day

Friday, 29 August 2008

Alaska

Alaska has not been a state at risk of a turnover from the Republicans to the Democrats for a long time. It's Representative-at-large (the population is not large enough for more than the minimum one Representative) has served since 1973. Ted Stevens, the Senior Senator has served since December 1968 and he is the longest serving Republican in history (Although Strom Thurmond died a Republican, he was first elected as a Democrat). Yet this week The Cook Report reports the Senatorial race as "leaning Democratic".

Senator Stevens, whose seat is at risk, has been in trouble of late. He was indicted by a Grand Jury at the end of July and is due to go on trial in Washington DC on September 22nd. The charges relate to allegations that he failed to report gifts and favours received from the VECO Corporation and its Chief Executive, Bill Allen. Allen has already pleaded guilty to bribery, extortion and other charges.

The trial date will be difficult, just six weeks before the election. Washington has been shocked by a scandal which threatens the reputation of a Senator with a distinguished career. He has been President Pro Tempere of the Senate from 2003-7; Chairman of the Appropriations Committee 1997-2001, 2003-05; Chairman of the Commerce Committee 2005-07. He was a key player in Alaska gaining its statehood. During the Eisenhower Administration he worked at the Interior Department. "He did all the work on statehood," Roger Ernst, Assistant Secretary for public land management, later said of Stevens. "He wrote 90 percent of all the speeches. Statehood was his main project." A sign on Stevens' door proclaimed his office "Alaskan Headquarters" and Stevens became known at the Department of the Interior as "Mr. Alaska." Some have argued that in promoting statehood so aggressively Stevens overstepped the rules.

The Democratic contender who could benefit from the scandals which are dogging Alaskan Republicans (Representative Don Young is facing himself multiple investigations - further details of recent woes are described at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amanda-coyne/another-alaska-republican_b_112005.html) ) is Mark Begich, Mayor of Anchorage. He is the son of Nick Begich, who was lost in the (presumed) aircrash in which Majority House Whip (who was campaigning for Begich) Lindy Boggs also died. As a result of the failure of the search to find the plane or its occupents, Congress passed a law requiring all US civil aircraft to have Emergency Locator Transmitters.

The websites of the two main candidates are -

The State has a population of 670,000 - and has seen tremendous growth in recent years. It 550,043 in 1990. That is still less than a quarter of a percent of the US population, for an area which is 16% of the USA's total. Oil and Gas; Defence and Government are the major industries.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Countdown to November 4th

Last night Barack Obama was adopted as the Democratic Party Nominee for the Presidency. Next week will see the nomination of John McCain for the Republicans - and Labor Day, the traditional opening of the final campaign for the White House.

Washminster will be following the campaign closely. The series on key congressional districts will continue - and in the final week of the campaign, I will be posting from the 11th District of Virginia (as highlighted over the summer - a district where the Presidential; Senate and House races are vital to the overall results). Manchester. Parliament returns in October with a packed legislative programme. The rush will be on to complete business before the end of the session.
But British politics will continue to be covered by Washminster. September promises to be a busy month, with the party conferences. I'll be posting from the Labour Party Conference in

Manchester.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Open Seats

The incumbency factor in US politics means that the seats most likely to be won by the other party are the so called "Open Seats". This is bad news for the Republicans, since they have a much larger number of retirees. Using The Cook Political Report the following are the Open Seats in the House of Representatives most at risk of being lost by the Republicans

Polling suggests good chance of a turnover -


Arizona 01

Illinois 11

New York 13

New York 25

Virginia 11


Open Republican seats currently too close to call -


Alabama 02

Louisiana 04

Minnesota 03

New Jersey 03

New Jersey 07

New Mexico 01

Ohio 15

Ohio 16

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Last Bank Holiday

Yesterday was the last Bank Holiday in England until Christmas Day. It is the lesser version of "Labor Day". In the UK the political season struggles into existence after the late summer bank holiday. Parliament will not return until 6th October. The annual party conferences are held in September.

The main conferences will be-

Liberal Democrats 13th - 17th September Bournemouth
Labour 20th - 24th September Manchester
Conservative 28th September - 1st October Birmingham

Monday, 25 August 2008

The Legend of Treaty Oak

The Washington Hilton Hotel (http://www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/DCAWHHH-Hilton-Washington-District-of-Columbia/index.do) stands on the site of Oak Lawn, a Nineteenth Century mansion built by Thomas P Morgan. Within its grounds stood the "Treaty Oak", an ancient oak tree said to be the place where George Washington negotiated and signed a peace treaty and purchase of the land with local native americans.

The area around was known as known as (and is described in a 1791 map as the 'Widow's Mite') see http://www.capitolhillhistory.org/library/04/Jenkins%20Hill.html. Nicholas Mann describes the legend of the Widows Mite in his book 'The Sacred Geometry of Washington DC'

The Anacostia Indian Tribe once lived in a vast forest in the region where the City of Washington now stands. Their Chief Mannacasset, set up his wigwam near a mighty oak that stood upon a high hill. From there, he governed the sur­rounding land.

One day, among the captives taken by the tribe in war, was a young mother and her daughter. The chief wanted the woman to be his wife. She repeatedly turned down his requests. So Mannacasset decreed that although custom pre­vented him from taking her by force, she would be killed if she wandered beyond the shade of the great oak tree.
As the years passed, the mother drew pleasure from the rais­ing of her child, Gwawa, which means 'hope'. Gwawa found a playmate in a half-Indian, half-white boy called Tschagarag. When the chief died, perhaps in battle with the whites, the treaty for peace and for the purchase of the land from the Indians was signed under the spreading branches of the oak tree. Washington himself, ‘the Father of our country’, signed the treaty. The woman was released from her imprisonment. The tree is the Treaty Oak.

Although offered several homes, the woman insisted on remaining in the shelter of the tree. She was granted the land around the tree; which from that day forth became known as the Widow's Mite. She was offered large sums of money for the hill upon which the great oak stood - the site of the U.S. Capitol or the White House - but the widow clung to the land.

Upon her death, she willed the property to her daughter, who had now married Tschagarag. She said to her daughter: 'Regard the oak which overspreads our cottage as an ancient relic; cherish it through life as the talisman of a resigned suf­ferer. And should you be blessed with offspring, instil them with the reverence for the tree as will transmit from generation to generation. These fulfilled, accept my thanks and consider the little I give you ... as the Widow's Mite to her posterity'.


He argues that an older story has been retold but with Washington added. The land involved was deeded to a white settler named John Langworth in 1664.

The 'Treaty Oak' itself was felled in 1948, after one side of it was severely burned in a fire and the mansion, now fallen into severe disrepair, demolished.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

The Burning of Washington

During my recent mini-holiday, I read Anthony S Pitch's "The Burning of Washington: The British Invasion of 1814". Today is the 194th anniversary of the attack on the city of Washington and the burning of the Capitol Building and the White House. Pitch's book is a good read, giving a full account of the events preceding and following that fateful night.

Britain and the United States had been at war since 1812 - and some have referred to it as the second war of independence. A brief outline of the two and a half year war can be found at http://www.usahistory.com/wars/1812.htm

The attack on the new capital was a retaliation for the attack by American forces on York (now Toronto) in Canada on April 27, 1813. The Americans attacked with a fleet of fourteen ships via the York Harbour. The Parliament Building was looted, and then burned down.

After Washington was attacked British forces moved on to Baltimore. An observer of the attack launched upon Fort McHenry (a fort which was vital to Baltimore's defence) wrote a poem about the failure of the sustained bombardment on the fort - "The Star Spangled Banner" now the American national anthem.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Anacostia River

After the Potomac, the Anacostia is the District of Columbia's second most important river. It was originally known as the Eastern Branch. It flows for about 8.4 miles from Prince George's County in Maryland. A number of rivers flow into it, including Sligo Creek; Paint Branch and Little Paint Branch; Beaverdam Creek; Lower Beaverdale Creek; Hickey Run; Watts Branch and Pope Branch.

The town of Bladensburg stands at the point at which the North West and North East branches meet. This town began as one of the major seaports in the colonies. Those who planned the city of Washington hoped that the Anacostia river front would be the commercial heart of the new city, but their hopes were never fully realised.

The current name comes from the Nacotchants tribe who lived in the area at the time of the explorer John Smith (who sailed up the Eastern branch and met a friendly reception from this tribe). However they had moved elsewhere by 1791.

The River became very polluted and action has been taken to improve the water quality. The Anacostia Watershed Society has been a major campaigner for this http://www.anacostiaws.org/. Details of the problems and the action being taken can be found at http://www.anacostia.net/download/Summit/1_AnacostiaOverview.pdf

Friday, 22 August 2008

Following the Conventions

The conventions are almost upon us. There are a number of web resources available to allow you to follow the events.

General

Many NPR stations will be broadcasting up to 4 hours coverage each evening (US time) - you can listen via http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=3&t=live1&islist=false or through a local station "listen live" - see the list at http://www.npr.org/stations/

C-Span will be providing extensive coverage at http://www.c-span.org/Watch/C-SPAN_wm.aspx

Major Newspapers
http://www.washingtonpost.com/
http://www.nytimes.com/
http://www.denverpost.com/

Other Major News Sources
http://www.cnn.com/
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/
http://abcnews.go.com/

Democrats

http://www.demconvention.com/ - an official site. Worth looking at Convention 101 and Countdown to America's future.

Republicans

http://www.gopconvention2008.com/


Thursday, 21 August 2008

Jenkins Hill

Dominating the centre of Washington, as it was designed to do, the Capitol Building stands on the crest of a hill. That hill is often referred to as "Jenkins Hill". Why that name became attached is a mystery. It was L'Enfant who first used this name. The land however was bought from Daniel Carroll of Duddington, and was described as "New Troy". This name was the only one recorded for this 500 acre tract from its first grant by Lord Baltimore to George Thompson in 1663 until L'Enfant's use of 'Jenkin's Hill' in 1791.

There was a Daniel Carroll in the First Congress, but he was an older cousin who served as one of the three Commissioners charged with defining and purchasing the land for the Federal territory.

So who was Jenkins? - and why did L'Enfant use his name? John Michael Vlach wrote an article for 'Capitol Dome', the journal of the US Capitol History Society in Spring 2004.
He argues that Thomas Jenkins did own a 54 acre plot on Capitol Hill during the period in which L'Enfant was researching and preparing his plan for the city. This plot was about seven blocks to the East (approximately one mile) on the ferry road to the Anacostia River. Vlatch suggests that L'Enfant may well have met Jenkins or his slaves whilst crossing the larger area of the hill upon which the Capitol was to be built (at its edge). A map in Nicolas Mann's book "The Sacred Geometry of Washington DC" (p54 Figure 26A) uses the term 'Jenkins Hill' for the larger area of higher land to the east of the Capitol.


If you have any comments - or other information - please post them on this blog.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

IL 11


The 11th District of Illinois is an Open Seat (currently represented by the Republican Jerry Weller). Bush won this district by only 50-48% in 2004 and the Cook Political Report of August 7th lists it as "Leaning Democratic". Illinois is of course the state for which Barack Obama is the Junior Senator. (Dick Durbin - the Majority Whip is the Senior Senator, who is up for election himself)

The district covers the Chicago suburbs in Will County and the old industrial city of Joliet. It also includes farming country to the west and, as the map shows a thin arm reaches down to Bloomington-Normal (the home of Illinois State University).

Democrat Debbie Halvorson (http://www.debbiehalvorson.com/) is seeking to wrest the seat from the Republican Party, which is represented by Marty Ozinga (http://www.martyozinga.com/).

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Pennsylvania Avenue

When L'Enfant planned the city of Washington, Pennsylvania Avenue was designed to link the older settlement of Georgetown to the President's House and the Capitol. Bridges were to be built over Rock Creek; Tiber Creek and the Eastern Branch (Anacostia River). The route loosely follows an earlier track which took advantage of the ridges in the area known as the Georgetown Ferry Road.

Today Pennsylvania Avenue runs for seven miles from Georgetown (it begins at the junction of 29th and M Streets [NW]) to the South Eastern boundary of the District of Columbia. In Maryland it continues past Andrews Air Force Base (Maryland Route 4). It's most famous stretch links the White House to the Capitol. This part is sometimes referred to as "America's Main Street". The Inauguration Parade and well as other national parades and protests use this avenue. Streetcars ran along Pennsylvania Avenue from Georgetown to the Anacostia for 100 years, ending in 1962.

Monday, 18 August 2008

VA 11


Perhaps the most interesting place to be this election season is the Eleventh District of Virginia. Not only is the State of Virginia in play for the Presidential Election (with 13 Electoral College votes); but the Senate seat, currently held by John Warner, a moderate Republican, will be open. The Cook Political Report on 31st July called it as "Likely Democratic". The 11th District will also be an Open Seat, with the retirement of Tom Davis. Cook listed this on 7th August as "Leans Democratic". This November offers the voters of this increasingly marginal seat an opportunity to replace three Republicans with three Democrats. In 2004 Bush gained 51% of the vote and Kerry 49%.

VA11 includes part of Fairfax and Prince William Counties and the City of Fairfax. Many residents work in Washington DC - either directly for the Federal Government (Executive; Legislative and Judicial branches) or for private companies linked to government. It has the highest Asian population in Virginia (11%); and significant latino/hispanic(9%) and black (10%) communities.

The two major candidates are Keith Fimian [Republican] http://www.keithfimian.com/
and Gerry Connolly [Democrat] http://www.gerryconnolly.com/

On a personal note this is my favourite district in the country - I stay there with friends when I visit Washington; and love the district's history (it includes Mt Vernon - Home of George Washington). Each November I stay up on election night and watch the results for Mount Vernon District as they are posted on http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/eb/returns.htm. Details of each precinct can be found at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/eb/pcts/mtvrn/mtvrnon.htm. I wish I could be there for this election!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

John Milton

This morning we visited the cottage in which John Milton lived while the Plague raged in London (1665-6) - and where he wrote his most famous book "Paradise Lost". If you have the opportunity, do visit the cottage. It is also a museum - and the guided tour was both fascinating and stimulating. Details of the cottage, which is in the South Buckinghamshire village of Chalfont St Giles (not far, but out of sight or sound of the M25 Jnt 17), can be found at http://www.miltonscottage.org/index.htm

John Milton - apart from being one of the most important poets in English history - was a democrat and a republican. He argued in 1644 for freedom of the press in his "Areopagiticia", and his political ideas have influenced modern political practice, particularly in the United States. My visit has prompted me to download and start reading some of his political works. You can do the same by visiting http://oll.libertyfund.org/readinglists/view/138-the_political_thought_of_john_milton

Some gems from his writings -

"It may be well wonderd that any nation, styling themselves free, can suffer any man to pretend hereditarie right over them as thir lord; whenas by acknowledging that right, they conclude themselves his servants and his vassals, and so renounce thir own freedom."
"The happiness of a nation must needs be firmest and certainest in a full and free Councel of their own electing, where no single person, but reason only sway[e]s."
During the period of the Commonwealth, Milton was a senior civil servant, and pamphleteer for the principles of republican democracy. When the monarchy was restored he was imprisoned and his books burned. I found it a little odd that the visits of recent monarchy (including a visit by Charles and Camilla three weeks ago) were given such prominence in the cottage. Queen Victoria was the first on the subscription list for the establishment of the trust (perhaps she wasn't acquainted with his republican writing!).
We drove on to the nearby (a mile or so away) village of Jordans where William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was buried - and, where a barn stands which was built of timbers bought from Rotherhithe from a ship which had been broken up called the "Mayflower", perhaps the same ship which had been used by the Pilgrim Fathers to take them to America.

The Site of Washington DC

One of the issues that the first Congress (1789-91) had to resolve was the residence of the Capital for the new nation. This was a very controversial issue for Congress - and the battle over the Residence Bill is described in Robert Remini's "The House" (Chapters 2 & 3). Eventually a compromise was agreed and legislation passed (on July 16th 1790) which gave George Washington the right to choose a permanent place on the banks of the Potomac between Conococheague Creek in Maryland and the Eastern Branch (now the Anacostia River), while Congress temporarily moved to Philadelphia.

The first President settled upon the area at the very south of the area designated by Congress (in fact the Residency Act had to be amended slightly to allow the incorporation of Alexandria). By August 1790 Jefferson was drafting tentative plans; Madison and Jefferson visited Georgetown in September and in October Washington himself looked at various sites. During that winter Commissioners were appointed and Andrew Ellicott was asked to begin a detailed survey of the Federal District and to mark its boundaries.
Ellicott began his survey at Jones Point, to the south east of Alexandria, which was a well-known landmark used by navigators, and the square was measured from there. A boundary stone was laid there on April 15th 1791 - and 40 stones laid to mark off the miles on the perimeter of the Federal District. Apparently 38 still remain! Further information can be found at http://www.boundarystones.org/
The District included the Potomac; Eastern Branch (Anacostia River); Tiber Creek (Goose Creek); and Rock Creek, as well as a host of smaller streams. A ridge to the north of Tiber Creek became the site for the President's House (The White House). The western part of Jenkins Hill who chosen for the Capitol Building.
Pierre-Charles L'Enfant, a French engineer and architect, who had come to America in 1777 with Lafayette, submitted plans for the city in June 1791 (having arrived in the area only in March). A number of attempts were made to sell land within the District but these were less successful than had been hoped for. The Cornerstone of the Capitol was laid on 18th September 1793, on a day which began with a parade and concluded with the third public auction of lots (which fared even worse than the previous two).
Washington DC became the Federal Capital on 1st December 1800, but the new city was not yet ready. The Senate wing of the Capitol Building had been built, but only the foundations of the House of Representatives existed. The House had to use the west side of the second floor (the library) of the Senate wing.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Congressional Elections


In the UK we limit the number of elections that can be held on the same day. The last three General Elections have coincided with County Council Elections - and there are some who still argue that two elections (possibly three if there is a district council by-election) is too much for the poor voter to cope with.

In the US Election Day can cover a whole host of elections - from the Presidency to the local dogcatcher. On November 4th US citizens will have a number of federal; state and local positions to vote on (and some will have votes on issues).

Over the period from now until Election Day I will post entries on some of the key Congressional races. A few points to note. In the US the incumbancy factor is greater than in the UK. Being a Senator or Congressman gives one greater name recognition; and more opportunities to raise campaign funds (who'll invest more in a challenger - when the incumbent has power to affect Government spending - British MPs may weep at this point!!!)). As a result "Open" seats are the more competitive. Americans are also more prepared to cross-vote - voting for a Democratic Congressman but a Republican for President. In fact some people take the American view of balanced powers so seriously that they deliberately cross vote.

Friday, 15 August 2008

The Tiber

The walk from The White House to the Capitol Building is today easy to make. There are quite a few streets to cross, but lights allow the pedestrian to do this safely. There are a few distractions along the way (The Old Post Office, and its tower); Political American (1331 PA Ave) - http://politicalamericana.com/; and the US District Court ("Monica Beach" as it was nicknamed as journalists settled in the plaza during the Lewinsky scandal of 1998).

It wasn't such an easy journey in the early years of the city. Goose Creek, renamed as "Tiber Creek" after the River Rome is built by, seperated the hill on which the Capitol stands and the ridge upon which the White House is built. James Sterling Young wrote that "Pennsylvania Avenue remained a desolate country road, where, 'every turn of your wagon wheel...is attended with danger.' Flash floods and spring tides made the avenue impassable altogether, necessitating either a long detour via highland roads or a trip by packet boat running between Georgetown, Greenleaf's Point (near the Navy Yard), and Alexandria to effect communication between the marooned communities at either end of the avenue." Although a bridge had been planned by L'Enfant - and preparatory work done on clearing the route, no bridge was built until 1832.
As far as I can make out, The route of the Tiber (see map at http://www.capitolhillhistory.org/library/04/Jenkins%20Hill.html) is as follows - a stream known as the "Reedy Branch" met the shorter "Goose Creek" near what is today the junction of New York Avenue and North Capitol Street, and then flows southwards in the vicincity of the rail tracks which run into Union Station. Just to the south-west of Union Station it met with another triutary, the Oden. It widened as it approached the site of the Capitol then turned westwards towards the Potomac. It was later canalised at this later stretch, into a canal which ran approximately along the route of Constitution Avenue. (Although an 1894 newspaper article suggests this was the course of the ancient James Creek, to the north of the Tiber - http://www.sewerhistory.org/articles/compon/1894_aen03/index.htm). The Tiber emptied into the Potomac close to the current position of the Washington Monument. Another tributary ran from F Street, between 9th and 10th Streets (under what is now the FBI Building and the Justice Department) joining the Tiber 20 yards south of Pennsylvania Avenue.
The drawing is described as "Tiber Creek. North East of the Capitol. Washington, D.C." Pen and black ink drawing by August Kollner, 1839. A train can be seen - so presumably this is that stretch of the river where it runs southwards.
Please let me know if you know of any sources which can throw further light on this forgotten river.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

British Newspapers

There is an old story which seeks to explain the choice of newspapers by individual British readers. It actually has the ring of truth!

"The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country. The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country. The Times is read by people who actually do run the country. The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country. The Financial Times is read by people who own the country. The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country. The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is. The Independent is read by people who know the government runs the country, and The Sun is read by people who don't care who runs the country so long as they have big tits."

For a more authoritative account of this, watch the video

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The Early Years - Washington DC

During these summer holidays I am reading and researching the the early years of some of the institutions relevant to my studies for a doctorate. These include the Labour Group in the House of Lords (see blog entry for 7th August); the leadership of the House of Representatives; and the establishment and growth of the US Congress.

As part of that, I've been reading some interesting books and articles over the last week. In particular - "The Washington Community 1800-1828" by James Sterling Young (New York & London: Columbia University Press, 1966) and "The Sacred Geometry of Washington DC" by Nicholas R Mann (Sutton Mallet, UK: Green Magic, 2006). Both are fascinating books. James Sterling Young looks at the members of the ruling group who moved to the newly built city (which in fact was an underpopulated series of small communities tied to the branches of government in which each community served) when Washington DC became the Federal Capital in 1800. Nicholas Mann looks at the plan of the city - and how its physical structure represented the political theories which underlay the constitutional structure. Both have a lot to say about how the site of the city was selected and developed.
In addition I've been reading material about the springs; streams; rivers and hills upon which Washington is built - many no longer visible. As a result over the rest of the holidays (along with other matters - there are fascinating elections going on in the USA and British politics is not exactly uninteresting at this time!) - I shall share with you what I find about my favourite city.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Early Years - Labour in the House of Lords

When the Labour Representative Committee was created in 1900 its purpose was to ensure that representatives of the Labour movement were elected to Parliament. It concentrated wholly upon the House of Commons, the only elected part of the British Parliament. The House of Lords, which it described in its January 1910 manifesto as "an irresponsible body which represents nothing but its own class interests" had no Labour members.

With the collapse in the Liberal Party and the increase in the Labour vote (December 1910 - 7.1% to December 1918 22.2%, - helped by the extension of the franchise to all men over 21 and all women over 30) - Labour became one of the most important parties at Westminster. It was only in 1920 that the first "Labour Peer" was recognised. The 2nd Earl of Kimberley (John Wodehouse - son of a leading statesman in Gladstone's Governments) had entered the House of Lords in 1902, and like his father taken the Liberal Whip. In 1918 and 1920 he sent telegrams of support to the Labour parliamentary candidate in South Norfolk, and in 1922 was re-elected to Norfolk County Council, but this time after describing himself as the "Labour" candidate. For these activities he was nicknamed by the press as "the Labour Earl"
In February 1920 the Constitutional Year Book (cited in Twentieth Century British Political Facts 1900-2000 by David and Gareth Butler) identifies the strength of the Labour Party in the House of Lords as One. But the Earl of Kimberley retained the Liberal Whip (despite his support for an opposing candidate in 1920). A seperate Labour Group only fomally existed after January 1924.
Other early members supporting Labour included the 2nd Earl Russell (elder brother of Bertrand Russell, who succeeded him as 3rd Earl) and Earl De La Warr - who was to become Labour Chief Whip (before joined the National Government, and subsequently the conservative Government of Winston Churchill).
It was the advent of the first Labour Government which caused the first formation of a proper Labour Group. Former Liberals such as Viscount Haldane; Lord Gorell; the 2nd Lord Acton (the first death in the group - June 1924); Lord Muir MacKenzie (the first Labour Chief Whip) joined the group and new Peers were created (Lord Olivier - uncle of the actor Laurence Olivier; Lord Thomson and Lord Arnold). Lord Parmoor - a former Tory MP who received a peerage in 1914 from the Liberals, and father of Stafford Cripps, also joined the group.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Top 5 Daily Show Ted Stevens Moments

The following has given my daughter Sarah and I an enjoyable half hour. We particularly liked the pieces where he explains the internet.

http://blog.indecision2008.com/2008/07/30/top-5-daily-show-ted-stevens-moments/