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Gale's Westminster View – November 2021

GALE'S WESTMINSTER VIEW – NOVEMBER 2021November.  COP 26, the Climate change conference, finally arrives in Glasgow hot on the heels of the G20 summit of Rome. The World`s leaders and climate-change activists clock up the air-miles in their determination to get to Scotland to  Save the Planet.

And the Prince of Wales exhorts the human inhabitants of this earth to set themselves on a `warlike footing` against the threats posed by global warming. The Presidents of China and Russia spared the earth the carbon pollution generated by flying to the UK for the summit, of course, but rather spoiled the effect by then refusing , in the company of Australia, to phase out the use of coal within a reasonable timeframe.

`Tory Sleaze, the ghost that haunted John Major`s Premiership in the 90s, re-emerges to plague Mayor Boris as a bad judgement-call over Mr. Owen Paterson`s extra-curricular fee-improvers threatens to prematurely terminate  his time in office. An already over-powerful Standards Commissioner consolidates her position as Grand Inquisitor   in a botched if justified attempt to inject fairness into a deeply-flawed `appeal` process.  The Labour MP for Leicester East receives a 10 weeks in custody sentence suspended for two years for a threatened acid attack but this is less interesting to the media than `sleaze` and receives little coverage.

England`s National Game – Cricket– is in disrepute and chaos as the once Great and Good of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club fall on their swords following allegations made by former Captain and spin bowler Azeem Rafiq,  before the  Commons DCMS (Sport)  Select Committee, of rampant racism and abuse. It is hero to zero as heads roll at Headingley and the word on the square is that more from other cricketing shires will follow before the pitch is rolled and fit to play on again. A sticky wicket if ever there was one.

Johnson Major, little Boris`s Dad, is in hot water too. It seams that  a while ago and late at night at a Party Conference watering hole a `playful` Stanley gave a young Caroline Nokes, the Member for Romsey in Hampshire, a former Home Office Minister of State and currently a powerful Select Committee `Chair`, a heftily painful  slap on her rump with the words “That`s a fine seat you`ve got” or somesuch Old Etonian attempt at `gallantry`. This anecdote was revealed on a TV chat show by the Right Honourable Lady  herself during a discussion about the behaviour of male politicians towards the fairer sex. Like son, like father. You don`t mess with our Nokesey and expect her to take prisoners.

Back at the Despatch Box Stanley`s little prodigy has been  busy crossing swords with Mr. Speaker Hoyle.  Dennis Healey`s First Rule Of Holesmanship was “ If You`re in One, Stop Digging”. It is a skill that some politicians, and the present Prime Minister is one such, never seem to have mastered. Seeking to question what passes for the Leader of the Labour Party at what is supposed to be Prime Minister`s Question Time Mr. Speaker Hoyle found it necessary to remind the PM that he was supposed to be answering the questions, not asking them.   Mayor Boris blundered on, prompting Mr. Speaker to intervene again.   “You may rin the Country “ (a proposition that the Civil Service might

quarrel with ) ” But I run this Chamber”.  See me outside my study after this lesson, Johnson Minor

Stella Creasy, the feisty Labour Member of Parliament for Walthamstow, has been told officially that she may not take her infant three-month old son, Hettie`s younger brother, into the Chamber during debates in which she wishes to participate.  Time was when children were not allowed outside the `Family Room` but with many more younger and women Members it has become a regular sight to see children going through the voting lobby with Mum or Dad. This, in a civilised world, might be regarded as tantamount to child abuse – there are, after all, certain arcane practises that young people should not be required to see or hear particularly when, on later evenings, the voting lobbies can reek of post-prandial alcohol fumes.  Stella, however, likes to push at the boundaries of behaviour. She is not a militant feminist but is stubbornly determined to make the Palace of Westminster a more family-friendly place, even unto the holy-of-holies that is the Commons chamber. Notwithstanding the fact that many children can arguably be relied upon to behave better than some Honourable Members this debate has, of course, polarised views in the House to the extent that Mr. Speaker Hoyle has ordered that the Clerks` determination shall be reviewed by the Procedures Committee.

This is the first Government to try to keep a manifesto promise to tackle the thorny question of who pays for us wrinklies when the wheels begin to fall off. The proposals may be a tad on the hamfisted side and lacking in finesse and I can quite see that with a cap of just North of eighty grand a stockbroker  with a couple of  million poundsworth of bricks and mortar in Uxbridge in West London , say, is going to leave a lot more boodle to his ungrateful and money-grubbing offspring than our salt of the earth Geordie with a hundred and fifty thousand quid invested in a bothy on the outskirts of   Newcastle once the cap has been reached.

And it`s true that the `capped` expenditure applies only to care costs and not to `hotel` expenditure which means that as you have to have a roof over your head and vittles to eat and ale to drink there will still, after all of the costs are met, be “bugger all left to pass on to the bairns, hinnie”.  Nevertheless it is “one small step” in the right direction and while Keir Hardie Starmer may dismiss this as a “dementia tax” nobody, apart from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will,  so far as I can see, be worse off . And if we can fine-tune the terms and conditions a bit we might manage to ensure that at least a little of the proceeds of a lifetime of hard graft, even up in `Red Wall Country`, might be left over to leave to the grandchildren after we have popped our clogs.

This is the month in which Papa Jonno and Clarrie appear to headed off down to the New Forest to take little Wilf to  visit Peppa Pig World. We know this because the Prime Minister told the nation while trying to busk his way out of a tight corner during a Confederation of British Industry conference in the Midlands after he had lost his place in his speaking notes . For the second time in a month he  `crashed the car into a ditch on a clear, dry road` to use his own words.

There is the story of the disgruntled Civil servant who, having been subjected to abuse over many months finally snapped and handed his Minister a neatly typed after-dinner speech. The first four pages were fine. On the fifth page were the words “ you`re on your own now – you bastard!” While that scenario is always deliciously possible it looks rather more as though in this case The First Lord of the Treasury, with an organisational ability to match his hairstyle, simply lost the plot – literally. What the great and the good of the Midlands business fraternity, presumably gathered to learn at first-hand how Her Majesty`s Government was going to introduce commerce-friendly policies that would enable them to increase profits and level-up their bonuses, must have made of the `Peppa Pig Moment` God only knows. The Prime Minister said it was “fantastic”. On this occasion he was absolutely and literally correct.

Her Majesty the Queen missed the service at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday this year because of a painful back condition. Knowing how much store the Great Old Lady sets by her presence at this truly solemn event it was inevitable that many were wondering about the `real reason` for her absence.  Happily, she appears to be back in harness in what, for a nonagenarian, might reasonably be described as “rude health” and for the moment at least the rumour-mill is silent on the subject.

Storm Arwen – why “Arwen”? – battered at the door of the United Kingdom and hundred-mile-an-hour winds slammed into parts of the North East and Scotland uprooting trees and telegraph poles and bringing down power lines. After some six days without electricity and in some cases without water the army has been called in to help the power workers who have been bravely battling in inclement conditions to try to get the heating and the lights back on. Look on the bright side: with fuel companies going bust in droves and electricity at a million pounds a watt just think of the money all of those poor, cold people will be saving while sitting in the dark.

The `show trial ` of Ghislaine Maxwell has commenced in New York.  I hold no brief for paedophiles or those who, it is alleged, supply them with the young people that they wish to subject ro abuse but given the rainforests of newsprint and the hours of radio and television coverage to which the affairs of Mr Jeffrey Epstein and his `partner` Ms. Maxwell, not to mention Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Harry Hawk, Old Uncle Tom Cobbley and All have been subjected, I cannot see how Ms. Maxwell is likely to be able to experience what, in a Western democracy, might reasonably be regarded as a fair trial. Is there a court in the Land of the Free that would be bold enough to acquit her? And if not, is the purpose of this three-ring circus to determine guilt or to determine sentence?

Which in a roundabout way brings us right back to the very different but worrying case of Mr. Owen Paterson who, until he resigned this month, was the Member of Parliament for North Shropshire.

I cannot claim to know Mr. Paterson well. It is inevitable that with some six hundred and fifty Members of Parliament we may know their names and faces and even their constituencies but are not conversant with the finer detail of many of them. I do know that when he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland he was not regarded as the sharpest tool in the Ministerial box – his nickname, apparently, was “Woodentop” – and I know that he enjoyed a costly if not lavish lifestyle that embraced equestrian activities.  We learn that he earned an extra-parliamentstary living as a consultant working with Randox, a company with Covid-related interests , and it appears that his activities may have crossed the fine line between an advisory capacity which is permitted and using his position as a Member of Parliament to engage in paid lobbying of Ministers which, since the notorious “cash for questions” scandal is strictly off-limits.

For these alleged offences he was reported to and investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, one Ms. Kathryn Stone, and as a result of the stress arising from this  protracted and tortuous scrutiny of his affairs, says Mr. Paterson,  his wife, Rose, who was the Chairman of Aintree Racecourse and a public figure in hre own right, committed suicide.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case against Mr. Paterson it would be harsh man who did not feel sympathy for Mr. Paterson and his family for the distress caused by this tragedy.

With four other Commons colleagues and one Member of the House of Lords I  have been subjected myself to the inordinately protracted inquisitions of the Standards Commissioner. It is not a happy process and I would argue (well I would, wouldn`t I? )  that it is neither fair nor just.  Without going into tedious detail about our own case our misdemeanours did not involve financial or sexual impropriety but rather what has been adjudicated to have been an over-zealous attempt to protect what we saw as the interests of the electorate. That the case against the Member of the House of Lords was investigated by the Lords` Standards Commissioner, concluded and the result published before the evidence in our owbn case had even been heard suggests at least a degegree of pre-meditation in the determination of the matter. I genuinely believe that the process is not fit for purpose and requires a thorough overhaul which is why, when the Commons was asked to consider the issue I not only voted wholeheartedly for the motion but added my signature to it

During the course of the debate Alberto Costa, the Member of Parliament for South Leicestershire, pointed out correctly that as things are at present  the Standards Commissioner not only determines which cases she will investigate and then assembles her version of the evividence and produces a report but she then, wearing another hat, acts as an `adiviser` to the Parliamentary Standards Committee whose duty is to scrutinise her work and to then determine guilt and, if appropriate, sentence. That committee also has the power to trigger a `recall motion` that, if supported by the electorate, can result in a by-election so it has a very serious responsibility.  That the Commissioner should be called upon to` advise`  on the marking of her own homework and to sit in on hearings of the Standards Committee cannot possibly be right and that is why Mr. Costa, himself a Member of the Standards Committee, and very many others, have voted for change.

The mistake of course, which with twenty-twenty hindsight was crass and blindingly obvious, lay in the Prime Minister`s insistence upon conflating his personal desire to protect Mr. Owen Paterson with a real need to reform the process bunder which his friend had been `convicted` . This was seen by the Press and presented to the public  as an attempt to move the goalposts in the middle of the game and frankly I and others who have been around the block for a bit ought to have seen this coming and warned against it.

We are now faced with the worst of all worlds. Mr Paterson has resigned and there will be  a by election in his North Shropshire constituency under hostile circumstances . Additionally, the Standards Committee has generated a less-than-unanimous report that proposes giving to the Commissioner such powers as could restrict the right of free speech under Parliamentary privilege  in a Chamber that has always been  notoriously robust. The Chairman of the Standards Committee, an unsuccessful candidate for the Speakership pf the House of Commons, may yet leave as his legacy the diminishing of the right of the House to openly, passionately, fiercely  and on occasions, yes, aggressively , debate matters of great importance to the nation.

With Health and Social care under scrutiny; with the arrival of the Omicron (“Essex” or “South African”, take your pick) variant of Covid 19 and the consequent further threat not only to Christmas and the whole economy; with a highly dangerous situation developing between Belarus and Poland and British troops sent to advise our NATO ally  and another potential neo-Soviet proxy war in the offing between Repuplika Serpska and the rest of Bosnia – Herzegovina in the Balkans;  with serious issues continuing over human rights in China and the disappearance , seemingly under House arrest , of the tennis player Peng Shuai and with illegal migrants dying in their attempts ( see footnote below) to cross the English Channel,  you might think that an effective Opposition would  have more than enough issues upon which to seek to hold a shaky  Government and Prime Minister to account.  You would be wrong.

The Leader of that Oppostion, “Captain Hindsight” Stamer, has chosen to focus his fire on “Tory Sleaze” first in respect of Mr Paterson and then the whole gamut of allegations from A-B  about whether or not Members of Parliament should be allowed to have professional or commercial interests outside the House of Commons. To be fair, as I always wish to be, his campaign of vilification has had a deleterious effect upon opinion polls in which a Tory lead , which should arguably never have existed in the first place, has been significantly eroded. The Prime Minister appears to wear a Trumpian coat of Teflon so whether this line of attack will hold the attention of the electorate for long I rather doubt but time will tell.

It is some years since a local radio reporter asked me, ive on air, if I  believed that people wee not entitled to a “full-time Member of Parliament”. When I asked her what she meant by “full-time” she replied “Well, at least forty hours “ and was slightly taken aback when I suggested that my constituents might not benefit from a fifty per-cent cut in my workimg week!

Times and the sitting hours of the House have changed since then of course but most if not all MPs put in a fair shift and frankly they must surely have a right to do in their own time what, within reason, they wish to do. (I choose to write this column!) If their constituents are not satisfied with the performance then the answer lies in the ballot box.at the next General Election.

Whether or not Sir Geoffrey Cox, QC, MP, should spend as much time at law as he does is surely a matter for him and those who send him to Parliament. He is, by repute, one of the finest English language lawyers in the world and much of the criticism of him appears to be based upon the fact that he earns at the Bar almost as much in a month as a first-class footballer earns in a week. It is certainly rather more than , before he became Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer was able to supplement his parliamentary income by but that is just perhaps because by repute Sir Geoffrey is the more eminent lawyer!

I no longer, myself, have any outside commercial income but I do not begrudge colleagues , on either side of the House, who do.  Those who clamour for  the divestment  of all interests upon entering Parliament have not thought the issue or the consequences through.  There are, in the House, working doctors, nurses, dentists, farmers, a veterinary surgeon,  those whose businesses may have been in the family for generations as well, of course, as many lawyers, journalists and others who have retained an involvement in other remunerated walks of life. To strip the House of their contemporary as well as historic knowledge and expertise would make for still less well-informed debate and legislation than we enjoy at present and that would not, I think, be in the national interest. It would also almost certainly deter good women and men from standing for election. Given the precarious nature of life in politics what sane woman, having reached the top of the greasy pole in a male-dominated company, would then want to take a fifty per-cent cut in income to become an MP while being required to burn her bridges behind her?

What matters, surely, is sufficient of the very many working and waking hours in the week are devoted  to parliamentary and constituency business to ensure that the job is done and done well , that any vested interests are fully and properly declared in the Register of Members` Interests and of course that the improper use of the Parliamentary Estate and the lobbying of Ministers or other colleagues for commercial causes is avoided. But the idea that an MP cannot take or make a commercial phone or zoom call from the Palace of Westminster, particularly when personal meetings are to be avoided during the pandemic, has got to be a partisan nonsense . Particularly when the Leader of the Opposition has used his parliamentary office for nakedly Party-political “Call Keir” communications purposes. Pots need to beware of calling the kettle black.

The government and Her Majesty`s Opposition might even at this late stage wish to devote a little time before the European Exit and Entry System comes into force on 1st January, considering the likely impact of this measure upon four wheeled, ferry and tunnel travel.  The system was designed for airports and biometric passport checks and not for ferries or Le Shuttle carrying cars and lorries. If every passenger is going to have to get out of the vehicle to individually have their biometrics scanned then that is going to cause traffic jams from the Channel back to the M25.

Old Windy`s Almanack predicts trouble ahead.

`Guidance` from the British Museums Associations contains forty pages of advice telling curators how to “address the legacy of colonialism” and `decolonise` collections`. The thought police are working in a gallery near you.

South Western Rail have tried to ban George, the station dog, from the ticket office at Horsley, Surrey, recently nominated as `Best Small Station of the Year`.  George`s owner, Richard Bunce, starts work alone at 05.30 and has George alongside him for companionship and security. The proposed restriction has caused the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, to refer to a need for `a little less tick boxing` and has generated thousands of signatures on a pro-George petition.

Pernod/Ricard, purveyors of fine pastis to the aristocracy, have been awarded a Royal Warrant for their supplies of Dubonnet to the palace. The sweet fortified wine which last year sold five hundred thousand bottles worldwide is the essential ingredient of a favourite regal tipple, “G&D”.

Meanwhile Chancellor Rishi Sunak gas slapped a higher tax on 12-15% Alcohol By Volume fortified wine. Which includes not only the Dubonnet enjoyed by Her Maj but also Communion Wine!

The Member of Parliament for the Nineteenth Century and Leader of the House of Commons has an interesting view of the reasons behind M. Macron`s recent tetchiness that has nothing to do with the forthcoming Presidential election. “It`s late Aumnitis” opines Mr. Mogg. “Trafalgar Day is on 21st October and the anniversary of te Battle of Agincourt falls on 25th and the French are always a bit touchy around that time of year”.

A mean-spirited by-product of the clouds currently surrounding Members of Parliament is a move to deny long-service MPs the `grace-and-favour` lifetime  pass that affords access to the Commons bars and resturants at times when nobody is likely to want to use them!  `Transparency International` apparently fears that the 283 current holders of the passes might use them to top up their pensions with paid lobbying. How sad!

There`s been a bit of `levelling` up going on in Cabinet.  Following on from  the spat between The Trussette, currently Foreign Secretary,  and  Deputy Prime Minister Dom Raab about who should have the use of Chevening, a modest pile of a country  retreat,  Lord High Everything Else Michael Gove, Secretary of State for – yes - `Levelling Up` has bagged the use of £25 million pounds worth of Carlton Gardens. The London townhouse, normally also used by the Foreign Secretary, offers three bedrooms only but  two drawing rooms and a ballroom in which The Gover will no doubt wish to polish up his now world-famous dancing skills.

Home Office aide memoire to Select Committee Chairman. November 7th is now `Transgender Parents Day` affording the opportunity for parents of transgender children to celebrate along the lines of Fathers` Day and Mothers` Day in the United States. Those of a certain age may wistfully recall that Mothering Sunday used to be a Christian festival.

While The  Rolling Stones have felt compelled to drop “Brown Sugar” (1971) from their repertoire in the interests of political correctness Sir Rod Stewart has no such qualms about his back-catalogue of hits. “Hot Legs” will go dancing on along with other now inappropriately suggestive hits.

Catherine Stock, Professor of Philosophy at Sussex University has been hounded out of her post in a row over `transphobia`. Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch says that Professor Stock`s views are `in step with the majority of the population`.

Following `Wear a skirt to school day` in Spain Castleview Primary School in Edinburgh is encouraging boys to wear skirts to `promote equality`. I must have missed something. I thougyt that North of the Border they were called `Kilts`.

The Salford Broadcasting Corporation is planning to move another400 jobs from London 200 miles from the business heart of the UK, the City of London.to Bristol, Leeds, Cardiff and Glasgow.  200 Business-related posts will be moved to Salford itself, a location that is 200 miles from the financial services heart of the United Kingdom, the City of London.  Three quarters of the “Newsbeat” staff, a trail-blazing Broadcasting House-based programme of which I was proud to be a founding producer, have refused to move to Birmingham believing, rightly, that their news-gathering futures probably lie with other outlets situated in the Metropolis.

The Great British Rail logo, first introduced in 1965, is being re-vamped to include the colours of the Union Flag. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is nothing if not patriotic.

But sadly the Prime Minister did not use Great British Rail to travel back to London from COP26 in Glasgow. He preferred to use a private aircraft, albeit powered by `sustainable aviation fuel` , to whisk him from Scotland to a dinner at the Garrick club with Lord (Charles) Moore.

In fact it is estimated that some 400 private jets carried World Leaders, Business representatives, eco-activists and journalists to and from the Glasgow `summit`. That, in addition to President Biden`s 20-vehicle motorcade and the hot air generated by Greta Thunberg is a lot of CO2.

In the unlikely event that you could afford an electric vehicle and do not need to drive more than a couple of hundred miles before re-charging  you would be rather better off on a day-to-day basis  than using carbon fuel. It now costs about £25 more than it did in May to fill a diesel-powered car.  We are, of course, desperately investing squillions of pounds in installing the infrastructure needed to power EVs and most of that may be redundant when green hydrogen power, which I predict will be the real non-carbon fuel of the future, comes on stream within a decade!

Turkeys may not exactly be voting for Christmas but they can take some comfort from the fact that of 5,500 visas

Panic offered by the Home Secretary to European  pheasant pluckers only 2,500 have been taken up. There will, we are told, be a `reduction in the number of birds slaughtered` but still `no shortage` for the festive season.

Due to Plant Health rules contained within the Northern Ireland protocol it will not be possible to `export` English Oak trees for planting to celebrate the Queen`s 70th Jubilee next year. The restriction also applies to Yew, and Elm trees and honeysuckle.  The UK has the highest plant health standards in Europe.

Schoolboy History Class 2021: “Guy Fawkes was famous for inventing the fork”.

And Boris Johnson is ”The best Prime Minister since Churchill, one of a kind and a fantastic leader”. In the opinion of one Donald Trump.

Trevor Hemmings (86) was the billionaire businessman and racehorse owner who secured the winners of three Grand Nationals  in 2005 (Hedgehunter), 2011 (Ballabriggs) and 2015 (Many Clouds).He made his fortune as a housebuilder, then with the Pontins Holiday Camp empire and later as an investor. He lived just north of Blackpool and in 1998 purchased the Blackpool Tower and the Blackpool Winter Gardens Conference Center – host to many Party Conferences over the years. His management buy-ut of Pontins led to its sale of Scottish and Newcastle Breweries of which he became a main-board Director. On the back of this he acquired for S&N and developed the Dutch Center Parks holiday business. He also took a stake in the Preston North End football club.

Sir James “Jim” Lester (89) became  the Member of Parliament for the Labour seat of Bassetlaw in 1968 at a by-election, losing to Joe Ashton at the General  Election on 1970. In February 1974 he won the newly created Nottinghamshire seat of Beeston and in 1975 was made a Government Whip. He later became a junior Minister for Employment in Margaret Thatcher`s first Government but was sacked in her first re-shuffle in 1981. In 1883 he was re-elected for the new  seat of Broxtowe but lost  seat in the Labour landslide of 1997. He was knighted in 1996.

Ado Campeol (93) was the Northern Italian restaurateur who was the driving force behind the rich sponge, cream and alcohol pudding tiramisu.  Campeol claims that the dish was created in 1969 when his wife, Alba, was making ice cream in their Treviso restaurant Le Beccherie with their chef when one of them accidentally dropped a spoonful of mascarpone cheese into the misture. Sponge fingers soaked in coffee were added and the rest is history.. The dish was certified by the Italian Academy of Cuisine in 2010.

Jo-Carroll Dennison (97) was the oldest surviving “Miss America” who spent much of the war years on morale-boosting tours of Americamn forces bases. She was described as the most popular pin-up after Betty Grable. She subsequently signed a contract with 20th Century Fox for whom she appeared in  a number of films.  She married the actor and comedian Phil “Sergeant Bilko” Silvers but  divorced in 1954 and became a judge for the “Miss America” contest.

Lionel Blair (92) was the relevision song-and-dance man who was also the choreographer of the Lionel Blairv Dancers. In 1961 he appeared with Sammy Davis Jr. in The Royal Variety Show and in 1964 he was compering ITV`s The Big Night Out srarring Mike and Bernie Winters.  In the West End he starred in the revival of George Gershwin`s Lady be Good. On stage as a straight actor he played in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1987) and School for Scandal (2009).  He was a panellist on the ITV talent show  New Faces and subsequently in 1973 joined Give us a Clue which ran for 13 years. He marries Susan Davis in 1967 and in 2019 was named as the Oldie Magazine`s Oldie of the year.

Maureen Cleve (87) was the journalist who became the Boswell to John Lennon`s Johnson. She was, in 1963, the first journalist whopublicly recognised the extraordinary phenomenon that was to become The Beatles when she wrote uptheir story in The London Evening Standard following the release of their second single, “Please please me”. “Thingy”, as she became known, quickly became part of the band`s inner circle  and attended their first London concert in 1964 and travelled on their first United States tour.

In 1966 Maureen Cleave wrote a profile of Lennon for the Evening Standard and included his quote saying “we`re more popular than Jesus now” which was regurgitated before the next Beatles US tour and created a media storm that was `viral` before the days of social media.

Ted Oates (101) was serving with the Royal Ordnance Corps with the British Expeditionary Force in France when he took part in the evacuation from Dunkirk from 27th May 1940. Having carried  stretchers from the beach to a hospital ship Oates and six others boarded a small ship and made it across the Channel to Folkestone  and six others  After the evacuation he rejoined 9AFWand served in the North Africa campaign where he spent his time repairing tanks. . Oates was demobbed in 1946 as a WO2 and became a tax collecter and, in retirement, an amateur clockmaker. Ted Oates and his wife Nora attended the aiiversary celebrations held for The Queen and Prince Philip in 1997.

FW de Klerk (85) was South Africa`s last white President who in 1993 , jointly with Nelson Mandela, won the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing the era of apartheid to an end. When Mandela was released from prison on Robben Island de Klerk lifted the ban on the African National Congress (ANC) Party , released all political prisoners   instigated the negotiations that he knew would bring his own National Party`s power to an end. A lawyer by profession, de Klerk was first elected to the South African parliament as a National Party member in 1969 and joined John Vorster`s Cabinet ten years later first as the Minister for Telecommunications and subsequently as the Social Welfare and Pensions Minister. He served again under PW Botha`s administration and was elected as State President in 1989.

Luisa Mattioli (85) was the Italian actress married to Sir Roger Moore during his `Bond years`. She became the third of Moore`s four wives in 1969, a role that she occupied until the actor married the Danish born Kristina Tholstrup..

Ron Flowers (87) was the Wolverhampton Wanderers soccer player who was part of England`s World Cup winning squad in 1966. He played for England 49 times and for` Wolves` for fifteen years from 1952 as a part of the team that won three League titles and one FA cup . At the time held the record as his Country`s record penalty-taker. He was awarded his MBE in 2021.

Lady (Clarissa ) Eden (101) was the widow of  Sir Anthony Eden, the  Conservative Prime Minister who succeeded Winston Churchill  in  1955 and served in Downing Street until the Suez crisis brought his tenure to an end eighteen months later. The couple subsequently became the Earl and Countess of Avon and Anthony Eden dies in 1977.

Clifford Rose (92) made is name as one of the stars of the BBC`s World War Two drama series “Scret Army”. His chilling character was based upon the SS Chief in Belgium, Ernst Ehlers, who committed suicide before he could be out on trial for war crimes. He commenced his Shakespearean career on stage at the Devon-based Elizabethan Theatre company and moved, with the Director Peter Hall, to become a founder member of  the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company  in Stratford in 1960. He appeared in over 100 RSC productions between 1961 and 2006.

Stephen Sondheim(91) was the American Musical Theatre lyricist who wrote the songs for Leonard Bernstein`s “West Side Story”. A protégé of Oscar Hammerstein he graduated from the Williams College in Massachusetts in 1950 with the Hutchinson Prize for Musical Composition. AftervWest Side Story Sondheim began to write “Gypsey” in 1959 and in 1962 achieved his first London West End success with Framkie Howerd in “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”.  “Anyone Can Whistle” (1964) was a flop but became a cult show.  “Company” (1970) ran on Broadway for a year and in 1972 opened at London`s Haymarket Theatre. Revived, the show eventually won a Grammy and a Tony award for the best score. “Follies” (1971) opened on Broadway and won seven Tony awards. It plated at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London Starring Diana Rigg, Eartha Kitt, Dolores Gray and Julia McKenzie. In 1773 Sondheim won a third Best Score Tony Award for “A little Night Music”. “Sweeney Todd” opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in 1980 and he produced “Merrily We Roll Along” in 1981, a show that lasted for just sixteen performances. In addition to Tony and Grammy awards Sondheim was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1983 and won the National Medal for the Arts in 1997.

Sir Frank Williams (79) was the head of the Williams Motor Racing Team , after Ferrari the second most successful equipe of all time. Paralysed in a car accident in 1986  Williams  nevertheless inspired his team to dominate Formula One racing throughout the 80s and 90s . Alan Jones, driving for Williams, won the World Championship in 1980, and Nigel Mansell took the title in a Williams in 1992.Ayrton Senna was driving for Williams in 1994 when he was killed in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in Italy resulting in an inquiry that finally cleared Williams of responsibility only after years of dispute. Williams went on to win constructors` titles in 1994,1996 and 1997 and Damon Hill and Jaqres Villeneuve both won drivers` titles for the team.. Frank Williams was awarded a CBE in 1987 and knighted in 1999. He was also a Chevalier of the Legion d`Honneur.

And finally…
Dennis Hutchings of the Lifeguards Regiment, placed on trial for alleged offences committed in Northern Ireland in 1974 and who died at the age of 80 before the conclusion of his case has been afforded, belatedly, a funeral with the full military honours that he deserved.

And after 396  years the Royal Standard flying over the island of Barbados since the reign of James 1st has been hauled down. In the presence of Prince Charles Dame Sandra Mason has been sworn in as President and the island is now a republic.

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