BY LARRY ILES
Bizarrest thing yet he’s ever done, in print, will be the sighing grievance moan of the likely very few who know anything about Lord Chuter Ede who lived into the early 1960s’ native Great Britain of both of us;just as it was, at last, transforming culturally The Avengers TV series style into today’s more recognition-strong modernity of country. Indeed., in some ways had he lived longer, I doubt whether Ede, a self often described “moderate socialist,”almost phobic anti-communist would have liked the late Princess Di, due to her fairly open sexual serial partners and even “anti-American “ land mines weaponry crusades. Sometimes, when I, myself, glance at portraits of the tall gawky, even rather ugly facially Ede, he reminds me all too painfully of what he partially in self-origination was,– the tough ex-schoolmaster. And it’s no accident that he was often a party Commons House Leader and Whip. He had been hence charged with party vote discipline enforcement in often black Machiavellian THE BOSS -like sinister arts against we natural dissidents.
Yet after now twice taking part inTSU’s Professor Barry Poyner Party Debates classes two consecutive 2013 semesters, as well as talking globally with your generation about the very real crises my elder ones are bequeathing you, funny enough, it’s Ede. As also in his core values, a protestor who most seems to fit what you, at your best, you should and can radically strive for in real social change. Because here is the proverbial rub: He not only surmounted similar odds. But he dared to sharingly ask, (as playwright George Bernard Shaw’s fellow LABOURITE and often US dynasty Kennedy-cited challenge-for-change interrogatory poser): Some people see, only, “the present” and resign themselves accordingly, but I see otherwise and ask, differently, “WHY NOT?”, to all this status quo.
Take the issues. TSU students, like most others worldwide, struggle’ agin lifelong horrendous debt. So did Ede, humble teacher from Surrey. This forced Ede NOT to complete his rare Oxbridge scholarship BA degree when parental and local authority bursary ran out. Job precariousness? Well, if Ede had kept to the norm, he would have faced deadened opportunities in drastic income-reduction and obscurity, as did his teacher short-lived wife confront the sexism then common both sides of the Atlantic and which forced lots of her profession to forfeit their jobs, just by their legally marrying. He compensated, by voluntary teacher union work, not so that he could go and have a national platform for their reconstructionist ideas on society culminating in the 1944 Education Act for which the wartime Churchill Coalition bears his name, attempting, if not successfully enough, to give even the poorest kid a formal secondary, if vocational free education, their own inherent entitlement right.
Then, finally, there is the “values” question whereby your generation is being asked to go backwards, rich men DAN QUAYLE-style. And you are also asked to become machismo tough, cruel in belt-tightening by we the very generations causing these alleged social breakdowns in the first instance. But Ede,often in antagonism to his own small “c” conservative environs, he as an MP sat for seats like Mitcham and South Shields in even today narrow Kirksville-like parochialism which withstood these “vested interest” batterings. So he refused to arm with guns the UK police, US-style, after WWII as Great Britain Home Secretary, precisely because he, already, rationally knew that such US bad practice led to more, not less violence. And that both the such arm them UK press and Police Federations, were greedy biassed parties, in an atmosphere which he already bemoaned for the“wreaking” of post-WWII men’s “violence pathologies.” He understood, all too well, and this dubious bad psychology of vengeance.
Looking, too, at the then prevalent UK death penalty, which this and last semester TSU Amnesty International and Social change students rightly strongly oppose and struggle against as Americans and as human rights organizations, Ede has been faulted for not actually abolishing it earlier in the UK, earlier than its late sixties actual erasure for the selective barbarity it brings to USA, China, Saudi Arabia where it remains. But truth was, he was the first Home Secretary UK to actually, long term, if temporarily “suspend it,” pending the study inquiry leading to its possible eventual abolition. And the shocking revelations of the next decade when journalists still with his youth-only membership in the radical Liberal party uncovered evidence of “wrongful hanging” persuaded him to become himself an outspoken abolitionist. Likewise, on religious intolerance, also like guns, there was a real backward recourse instinct, as there are even in 2014 the mighty American lobbies. Ede, although himself an anti-superstitious Unitarian, recalled his own impoverished parents given such stigmas for being “in a minority.” So he refused to ban Spiritualists as secular, let alone Church of England State Churches sought, claiming them to be mind-warping “cults”. Whilst he was prepared to, yes, stop any real excesses, he preferred, he said, “traditional English tolerance” and counter or rational dissuasion.
Ede was not a perfectionist, regarding people like yours truly on the Left of his party as “too wild.” But his determination to be non-conformist within apparently secure “safe” jobs, like ending up a Surrey Lord Lieutenant in Crown office title, a JP in local justice dispensation, barely hid his greater Radicalism. For instance, anciently, in self-love with a “commonwealth” idea of the environment, or green for all, he fiercely attacked private enterprise builders and “the rich” for trying to end the beautiful common lands of Epsom Downs and Roman northern Peninine walks we both love. Simply, he was a “Green” before his time because, as your generation is finding out, the comfortable right never give up repeating their follies in attempting to brainwash you into believing that a false no-change is possible, passifying so many of the public into a comfortable conformist sterility. Monitorees, so do counter them, if “all” Ede’s stealth resistance is “left” you. He proved stealth tactic can, if only sometimes, social change fructify, or work.
N.B: Any TSU or Kirksville community resident has a unique resource available at TSU Pickler Library. Many years ago, someone bought the entire blue and red book HANSARD Parliamentary debate collection of Liverpool City (The Beatles) Conservative Club. Not many UK, let alone US campuses have such open-access big print resources available to study EDE ecetera at flick-of-a-book literally, but instead have ONLINE alone access.