The Returning Officer: Sudbury

William Charlton Heaton-Armstrong was the Liberal MP for Sudbury (1906-10), having fought Mid-Tipperary in 1892 as a Tory. Born in Gmunden, Austria, in 1853, he married Baroness Bertha Maximiliana Zois-Edelstein in 1885.

As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, he published the Calculation of the Sun’s Meridian Altitude. In 1914 his son Duncan became private secretary to the (German) king of Albania and a very early POW.

William Cuthbert Quilter had been elected the MP for Sudbury as a Liberal in 1885 but became a Liberal Unionist and then lost to Heaton-Armstrong in 1906. An art collector and founder of the National Telephone Company, which tested his parabolic double reflecting mouthpiece, he proposed a beer purity law in 1886. His eldest son, Cuthbert, regained the seat in 1910.

This article first appeared in the 30 October 2013 issue of the New Statesman, Should you bother to vote?

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Sadiq Khan gives Jeremy Corbyn's supporters a lesson on power

The London mayor doused the Labour conference with cold electoral truths. 

There was just one message that Sadiq Khan wanted Labour to take from his conference speech: we need to be “in power”. The party’s most senior elected politician hammered this theme as relentlessly as his “son of a bus driver” line. His obsessive emphasis on “power” (used 38 times) showed how far he fears his party is from office and how misguided he believes Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are.

Khan arrived on stage to a presidential-style video lauding his mayoral victory (a privilege normally reserved for the leader). But rather than delivering a self-congratulatory speech, he doused the conference with cold electoral truths. With the biggest personal mandate of any British politician in history, he was uniquely placed to do so.

“Labour is not in power in the place that we can have the biggest impact on our country: in parliament,” he lamented. It was a stern rebuke to those who regard the street, rather than the ballot box, as the principal vehicle of change.

Corbyn was mentioned just once, as Khan, who endorsed Owen Smith, acknowledged that “the leadership of our party has now been decided” (“I congratulate Jeremy on his clear victory”). But he was a ghostly presence for the rest of the speech, with Khan declaring “Labour out of power will never ever be good enough”. Though Corbyn joined the standing ovation at the end, he sat motionless during several of the applause lines.

If Khan’s “power” message was the stick, his policy programme was the carrot. Only in office, he said, could Labour tackle the housing crisis, air pollution, gender inequality and hate crime. He spoke hopefully of "winning the mayoral elections next year in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham", providing further models of campaigning success. 

Khan peroration was his most daring passage: “It’s time to put Labour back in power. It's time for a Labour government. A Labour Prime Minister in Downing Street. A Labour Cabinet. Labour values put into action.” The mayor has already stated that he does not believe Corbyn can fulfil this duty. The question left hanging was whether it would fall to Khan himself to answer the call. If, as he fears, Labour drifts ever further from power, his lustre will only grow.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.