Friday, July 06, 2012

Fred Perry's father was Labour/Co-operative MP for Kettering

This afternoon Andy Murray became the first British tennis player since Bunny Austin to reach the Wimbledon men's single final. But the last Briton to win the title, of course, was Fred Perry. And that gives me the excuse to impart a little piece of political trivia.

Fred Perry's father was Labour and Co-operative MP for Kettering.

Samuel Perry came from Stockport and was involved with Co-operative movement in that town and then Birkenhead. On the founding of the Co-operative Party in 1917, he was appointed its first national secretary.

He moved to London and lived in Brentham Garden Suburb in Ealing, which was managed on Co-operative principles. There his young son was able to benefit from the sporting facilities provided to become the best table tennis and then lawn tennis player in the world.

Wikipedia says of him:
Perry's success attracted the adoration of the crowds at Wimbledon particularly as he contrasted sharply with the privileged background of most patrons and players associated with the All England Club at that time.
Before it formed an electoral non-aggression pact with Labour in 1927, which allowed for a limited number of joint Labour/Co-operative candidates, the Co-operative Party stood its own candidates and even saw a few MPs elected. The first of these was Alfred Waterson, who won Kettering in 1918.

Waterson lost to the Conservatives in 1922, but Samuel Perry won Kettering back for the Co-operative Party in 1923. He lost to the Tories in 1924, but won the seat back in 1929 as a Labour/Co-operative candidate. He was defeated at the 1935 general election, again by the Conservatives.

For a glimpse of a later general election campaign in Kettering, see the British Council film of the 1945 campaign.

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