Laureates

Apart from Geoffrey Chaucer, elected as the MP for Kent in 1386 (whose own son Thomas sat for Oxfordshire on and off between 1401 and 1421), the only poet laureate and member of parliament was Henry Pye.
 
Pye sat for Berkshire (1784- 90) and took up the laureateship after William Hayley turned it down on Thomas Warton’s death. He is often cited as the worst laureate ever, but he had at least one fan, in the Commons – William Mitford, the Tory MP for Newport, Bere Alston and New Romney intermittently between 1785 and 1818. Pye dedicated a sonnet to him:
 
. . . Nor will you, though your
nicer ear retain
What sounds to purest
melody belong,
This tribute from a ruder
bard disdain,
Proud to record your friendship
in his song.

This article first appeared in the 07 October 2013 issue of the New Statesman, The last days of Nelson Mandela

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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