Newington I

Charles Walwyn Radclyffe Cooke was Tory MP for Newington from 1885-92. In 1890 he wrote a book on his political experiences, Four Years in Parliament with Hard Labour, recounting his difficulties with the first Commons telephone: “very annoying, the more so as my knowledge of the instrument is theoretical rather than practical”.

He was not impressed by the demands of the public on MPs and felt it was an evil solved by leaving members “severely alone”. Nor was he impressed by the new democracy in the Tory party represented by the “tyrannical” Primrose League. He recalled that at their meetings you were forced to drink “half a dozen full cupfuls” of “inferior Souchong at two shillings and frequently the coarsest Congou” or “your conservatism is considered blemished”

This article first appeared in the 22 July 2013 issue of the New Statesman, How to make a saint