Carlisle (I)

Carlisle staged a parliament before it returned members to one. The reason was its proximity to the disputed borderlands.

In 1298, having defeated William Wallace at Falkirk, Edward I called his earls, barons and sheriffs to the city. He did so again in 1300 when Henry Spencer and Andrew Serjeant were the city's first recorded representatives.

Wilfrid Lawson was elected for the city (1859-65 and 1868-85); he was later MP for Cockermouth (1886-1900), Camborne (1903-1906) and again for Cockermouth (1906). A radical Liberal and the foremost temperance MP of the time, he once described an opponent as "a rollicking sort of good fellow, not knowing much about politics apparently, but the sort of candidate the Tories like".

He derided the bishops who supported the Afghan war of 1879 - "who one day appear in the house of God as the ministers of peace, and on the next day in the House of Lords go and vote for an unjust and unnecessary war".

This article first appeared in the 23 August 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Pakistan