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July 30, 2008


David Boothroyd

It pains me to say this, but I'm afraid you've fallen for a bit of Benn nonsense even though you correctly remembered his foiled attempt to deselect Michael Cocks. The fact is that on the calculations in the 'BBC/ITN Notional General Election of 1979' (which estimated the result of the 1979 election on the boundaries which came in with the 1983 election), the 1979 Labour majority in Bristol East on 1983 boundaries was higher than the real majority Tony Benn got in Bristol South East on the old boundaries. In other words, the Boundary Commission gave him a slightly safer seat to fight but he still wanted to move.

It is a tribute to Harold Wilson's political skill that he managed to demote Tony Benn in such a way that prevented Benn from properly claiming victimization (because Varley had also opposed EC membership). Varley was a figure of the traditional trade unionist centre-right of the Labour Party, many of whom opposed EC membership for industrial reasons; this alone makes the 'premature Blairite' description slightly ludicrous. Perhaps Geoffrey Goodman was trying desperately to explain Varley in terms relevant to the contemporary political world to which Varley never belonged.

Incidentally Varley also detested Neil Kinnock with a rare passion, which was the main reason he left Parliament so suddenly in late 1983.


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David not T

"This was one of the craziest decisions taken by Labour in the 1970s. The Government spent £162 million to rescue Chrysler UK, and undertook to cover more than £70 million in losses over four years."

Oh come now...
I'm sure that far far madder stuff than that was done.

Top 10 list of now incomprehensible Wilson/Callaghan era policies anyone?

Nick Good

Well we did get the De Lorean

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