Friday, May 09, 2008

House Points: Round the Horne and Liberalism

Today's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News.

I have written about the Hornes and the Paddicks before on this blog.

Horney problems

The Bank Holiday weekend gave Westminster time to reflect on last week’s elections. Will Boris Johnson’s victory in London prove a mixed blessing for David Cameron? Has the Tories’ success in the North been overhyped? Once again they failed to win a single seat in Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle or Hull.

And, closer to home… Why, when the Liberal Democrats are such strong supporters of proportional representation, do we do so badly whenever it is used? And why, presented with the opportunity, did more Londoners not give the Brian Paddick their first preference and opt for Boris or Ken with their second?

My impression is that we have become extremely proficient at flooding individual wards or constituencies with workers and squeezing third-party votes during those campaigns. But are we as good at winning people’s support for a Liberal agenda between elections or across a whole city?

One consolation from the London campaign was the revelation that Brian is a relation - second cousin once removed, to be precise - of the Round the Horne star Hugh Paddick.

Round the Horne was the cult radio comedy of the 1960s. In it the urbane Kenneth Horne proved, long before Humphrey Lyttelton, that you can get away with the most outrageous innuendo on the BBC so long as you have impeccable Establishment style and connections. Hugh Paddick is best remembered for playing Julian to Kenneth Williams’s Sandy in the show.

But a connection between Round the Horne and Liberalism should not be such a surprise, because Kenneth Horne’s father was a Liberal MP. Silvester Horne, who sat for Ipswich between 1910 and 1914, was a Congregationalist minister and a celebrated orator and preacher.

Kenneth was a little boy when his father died. When in adult life he described Winston Churchill to a friend as a great orator, that friend replied: "Yes, but then you never heard your father speak, did you?"

Some would conclude that the son who revelled in the smut of Round the Horne can have had little in common with his clergyman father. But Kenneth Horne was not without a puritan streak too. He once said: "I am all for censorship. If ever I see a double entendre I whip it out."


Tom Barney said...

It is fairly well known that Ipswich was the first Liberal gain to be declared in 1906. So who sat for the town 1906-10?

Anonymous said...

According to Wikipedia Ipswich was a 2-member town in 1906 :Felix Cobbold and Daniel Ford Goddard, both Liberals.

There's a short biography of Cobbold who died in 1909,hence one vacancy at least.