Identity

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The Public Point of View

My father died just over a year ago. I dreamt about him last night. Thinking about him, I’m reminded of two things today: first, that he loved me; and second, that he was – to put it mildly – puzzled by my choice of profession. He never saw the point of parliament, which he thought a ‘giant talking shop.’ […]

Ullswater

What kind of place do we want Cumbria to be?

What kind of place do we want Cumbria to be in twenty years’ time? Or in two hundred years’ time? Our lives are still shaped by political decisions made centuries ago. We travel on railway lines, and drink from reservoirs, first laid by the Victorians. We look at scenery created by neolithic farmers and nineteenth […]

JELD-KEN

The Genius of Local Industry

“I have no idea,’ said my father, ‘how Britain survives – when we don’t make anything anymore.” Producing food and manufacturing goods is relatively easy to understand. You can watch a farmer take a fellside, drain, lime, plough and plant, and create food from wasteland. You could watch him design a new plough, which could […]

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The Lasting Institutions of our Society

Last Saturday, Shoshana and I spent the day at the Cumberland show. It has passed its 175th anniversary and you could see why it has lasted so long. It wasn’t only the ice-cream. We must have met two hundred people who had come from across two thousand square miles of Cumbria. Shoshana stood, transfixed by […]

older women

Our culture excludes the old when they have so much to contribute

First published by The Observer Parliament talks ceaselessly of “the next generation”. But, in Cumbria, where I’m an MP, voluntary activity and politics are generally driven by people over the age of 55. Every village seems to have a retired engineer attempting to build a community fibre-optic cable network and baffling the most confident civil servant […]

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The Opium is our Children

From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, November/December 2013 If a Roman senator’s opium was his public life, a Viking’s was battle. Our ancestors have been addicted to honour, craved virtue and wealth, been hooked on conquest, on adventure, and on God. But ours is the first civilisation to find its deepest fulfilment in its descendants. Our opium is […]

Cumbria pic

british rural identity

I stood, on Sunday, with a friend, looking at his fields, which slope down, from the fellside to the water. The river was in spate, and silver lakes had formed in the meadows. He had got up early, to save his Swaledales from drowning. But where was he to put them? His drier fields, to […]

On the road

On Restoring National Confidence

The Financial Times yesterday suggested that the recent success of Asian economies could be the result of a young population, and as average age rose, growth would fall. Behind this, and a hundred similar theories, is the belief that a nation’s future is determined by statistics. We peer at the world through a cage of bar-charts – on productivity, literacy, […]

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the first world war

When I came back to London this week I found, in my cupboard, four jackets, each with a poppy in their lapel. On the day of the Penrith Remembrance service, the international football association banned the English football team from wearing poppies, on the grounds that they were ‘a nationalist symbol’. They are not. They […]

Penrith Castle

on history

In Wigton last Tuesday I learnt that it is about to celebrate its 750th anniversary as a market town. I am really looking forward to it but I have to confess I find Wigton in 1262 a place foreign in almost every conceivable way. In 1262 most of the people spoke a dialect heavily influenced […]