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

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