Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Dalyell on Lubbock

Tam Dalyell has a rather longer memory than the BBC, who gave the death of Lord Avebury only the briefest of mentions on its main bulletins. Thanks to his obituary in the Independent, we are reminded that Eric Lubbock's maiden speech was one of those rare ones which ignored the convention of being non-controversial. It spoke of the poor state of nurses' pay. Fifty-odd years later, nothing has changed  on that front. One can only imagine what he would make of the decision by both Conservatives in Westminster and Labour in Cardiff to scrap student nurses' bursaries.

Other Lubbock propositions before their time were to reduce the voting age to 18 (we had to wait over thirty years for this) and to introduce the single transferable vote for parliamentary elections (we are still waiting). Throughout his parliamentary life he promoted racial equality and encouraged members of ethnic minorities to join the Liberal and Liberal Democrat parties. As Lord Avebury in 1973, he set up the fund to raise money for Peter Hain's defence against the vindictive Bennion prosecution over the anti-apartheid campaign.

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