You don't have to like politicians, but they're NOT all the same

Not everyone rolled their eyes upon the announcement that a General Election will take place on December 12. Some people put their heads in their hands instead.

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 11:41 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 2:39 pm
Parliament has 650 MPs. They aren't 'all the same'.

At the 2017 election, 31% of the UK electorate didn’t bother voting. In Sunderland’s three constituencies it was 39%. This equates to 80,000 people.

That’s almost enough to fill Wembley Stadium; based on the unlikely premise of those 80,000 people being bothered to go to Wembley. If it’s possible for apathy to be spectacular, then that’s an example.

One of the reasons for such mass indolence, from those sufficiently interested to even offer a reason, is that politicians are “all the same.” This has been said of politicians since the Greeks invented democracy.

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But a shufti at representatives for Sunderland alone over the last couple of centuries rather disproves it. This colourful bunch has included toffs, scruffs and everyone in between.

For example, you have to wonder, from his name alone, how anyone called Sir Hedworth Williamson, 7th baronet, Sunderland MP 1847-52, managed to relate to the lads in Ryhope Top Club.

Not that he had to. Whig Williamson was elected with votes from a whole 705 property owners, which was 55%.

Then there was Samuel Storey, 1881-95, a Liberal who first steamed in at a by-election unopposed. He also founded the Sunderland Echo in 1873, a vote winner if ever there was.

His grandson, Samuel Storey Jnr, was Sunderland’s Conservative MP, 1931-45.

Labour’s Marion Phillips, 1929-31, was the town’s first female MP. A serious minded doer of good deeds, she helped create the Poor Laws, medical relief and the Welfare State. She was concerned too with public health and the treatment of destitute children.

In a show of gratitude, the voters of Sunderland booted her out at the 1931 general election and replaced her with Samuel Storey Jnr.

Hamar Greenwood, 1910-22, was a Liberal who held several ministerial positions under Prime Minister David Lloyd George. The city’s last Conservative MP was Sunderland South’s Paul Williams, 1953-64. The public schoolboy was anti-America and anti-Europe, but all for the British Empire and “patriotism and moral rejuvenation.”

Between 1987 and 2010, Sunderland South’s Labour MP was Chris Mullin.

He was respected, even by those who disagreed with him on everything, across the political spectrum. An intellectual, author and campaigner, whose very modest expenses claims famously included £45 for a black and white television. In MP terms, a saint.

Between 1992 and 2010, Sunderland North’s Labour MP was monarchy-abolitionist Bill Etherington.

During the expenses scandal he was asked why he had used taxpayers’ money to buy an electric razor. He replied that it was because his old one was broken.

You may not like anyone named above, nor any candidate standing on December 12, or indeed any politician.

But they really, really aren’t all the same.