Tuesday, June 18, 2013

J.W. Logan in the Spectator

Last week I wrote a short post promoting the new, free online Spectator Archive. As I suspected, it is going to be a priceless tool for research.

Take this blog's hero J.W. Logan, Liberal MP for Harborough in the good old days.

I once wrote a post quoting James Moore's The Transformation of Urban Liberalism:
In the Harborough constituency Liberal lecturers were frequently refused access to Anglican schoolrooms where they wished to hold meetings. Eventually the Liberal Association became so frustrated with the situation that parliamentary candidate J.W. Logan built himself a portable meeting room which he took from village to village. The mobile contraption - dubbed the "Free Speech Hall" - obviously worked and following its introduction the local clergy were less reluctant to hire out school halls to Liberal candidates.
But there was more to Free Speech Hall than that. Here is a short piece from the Spectator, published after Logan was first elected to parliament, winning a by-election in 1891 (and reprsentative of the slightly hit-and-miss scanning that its archive offers):
Mr. Logan, the Gladstonian candidate, may well pride himself on his tactics. He has been in the field for nearly three years ; has taken round a van, in which Gladstonian meet. lugs have been held under cover; and he has instructed his rural voters in the art of using the ballot by providing them with the means of playing at polling in the various villages of the Harborough Division. He has reaped his reward, and will possibly gather in a rich aftermath at the General Election
This suggests parallels between Victorian Liberalism and campaigning in poor Black communities in American today. It also suggests a solution to the problem of low turnout in inner-city areas in Britain today.

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