Thursday, February 02, 2006
The Seventeen Year Long Silence of Sir Harry Kerby MP
Yesterday I had a delightful lunch at the Reform Club with a journalist from the 'old school'. We were talking about Howard Flight's sacking in Arundel and South Downs and he told me a wonderful tale about how parliamentary selections were run in the 'good' old days. In 1954 the seat's Conservative MP, W C Cuthbert announced he would not be standing at the next election so Arundel & Shoreham Conservative Association advertised for applicants. One of them was Sir Harry Kerby, but he didn't meet with much favour and the Association decided to go for a female applicant. However, Mr Cuthbert rather inconveniently died at this juncture which meant a by-election would have to be held. Unfortunately for the lady in question, she had chosen that particualr moment to go on a lecture tour to the United States and try as they might, the Association couldn't contact her. So in desperation they gave up and decided to go for what they saw as the solidity of Sir Harry Kerby. Sir Harry was duly elected and spent seventeen years in the House of Commons until his death in 1971. My journalist friend tells me he never actually made a speech. I wonder if his constituents noticed. I also wonder who the lady was who should have been the MP and what became of her.