REFLECTIONS FROM SITTING MPS
current members of parliament give Their Thoughts on Their World War i predecessors, some of Whom actually served in The same seats
JIM FITZPATRICK MP CONSTITUENCY: poplar and limehouse PARTY: labour WWI PREDECESSOR: sir William pearce (liberal)
Can you imagine MPS volunteering for military service today in circumstances similar to WWI?
I wouldn’t have thought they would join up in the same numbers but clearly there are MPS who have been members of the armed forces. There are still MPS who are reservists and a number have been out to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. I would not be at all surprised if there were MPS who would fulfil that expectation. I spent 23 years in the fire Brigade and am 65 now, but I am sure there are younger members who, if necessary, would want to contribute and ‘do their bit’. What can the example of leadership provided by the fallen MPS of WWI teach sitting members of the Commons?
The WWI MPS are remembered in the Order Paper on the day that they fell and that has also been happening for more recent conflicts, which makes people reflect, remember and pay tribute. The Speaker makes an announcement each day when the business starts to draw attention to the Order Paper.
Whenever there are remembrance services pretty much all MPS attend to pay tribute to those who gave their lives for that which we all take for granted more or less in terms of our freedoms and democracy. The Merchant navy Memorial in my constituency is for those who fell in both world wars. The youngest people who are remembered on that were 14 while the oldest was 79. It’s important that we do play our part in remembering and therefore it’s very much part of the job.
LIZ MCINNES MP CONSTITUENCY: heywood and middleton PARTY: labour WWI PREDECESSOR: harold cawley (liberal)
What are your thoughts on Harold Cawley’s service, not just as an MP but also a serving soldier?
I can’t imagine what it must have been like, particularly the idea that you would serve as an MP and also do active service. Obviously it was very male-dominated back then and the pressure was on young men to fight. I think MPS at the time wanted to lead by example and felt it was their duty to serve on the front line.
What can the example of leadership provided by the fallen MPS of WWI teach sitting members of the Commons?
As an MP you obviously have to show leadership. I personally would be quite reluctant to show the sort of leadership that was shown by our predecessors, but I think they were different times. There was so much pressure put on young men to fight during WWI, and I think we’re more sophisticated now in the way we talk about war. However, I do think we have to be grateful for the sacrifices that were made and accept it was a different time and outlook.
We do have current MPS who are members of the army and, although I hope the situation wouldn’t arise, I am sure they would ask themselves where their responsibilities lie. Do they lie with their constituents or their country? It’s a great example for all of us that MPS were willing to put their lives on the line for the country.
INSET, ABOVE: Sir William Pearce’s only son Geoffrey was killed while serving as a second lieutenant in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at Fleurbaix on 18 December 1914 Harold Cawley served as a captain in the Manchester Regiment and was killed during the Gallipoli Campaign on 22 September 1915