Live our lives free from fear and want

Books old and new: as the party conference concludes, I have been reading two particular books.

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing
Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

Philip Guedalla’s Portrait of Mr Churchill was published in November 1941.

It describes the new Prime Minister’s life as a Victorian and an Edwardian before the nation and empire became the realm of the Georges, separated by the abdication of Edward.

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The final chapters are entitled Mr Chamberlain’s War and Mr Churchill’s War.

The book is clear about the cooperation between President Roosevelt and the half American Winston Churchill.

The August 1941 Atlantic Charter made clear the seven principles and hopes for a better future for the world.

The sixth was about life after the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny.

They hoped ‘to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the people in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want’.

The new book Monopoli Blues by Tim Clark and Nick Cook, tells of the war experiences of Tim’s parents.

Marjorie abandoned the idea of university to be a wireless operator for the Special Operations Executive (SOE).

In Italy she met 19-year-old Bob. He chose to remain near her instead of taking a posting to Australia.

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His small boat training had been at Helford, overlapping with my father-in-law who had navigated a wartime sea taxi service to occupied France.

In my years as local MP, I have met many, mainly women, who in the war years demonstrated sustained bravery and resilience.

In the RAF Benevolent Fund’s Princess Marina House I listened respectfully to the woman who had been awarded the George Medal.

In a flat in Rustington, another elderly woman let on about her security service life.

Across the road from our home in central Worthing, a neighbour introduced me to her quiet friend who had been in MI6, the secret intelligence service.

Twenty years ago it was secret. Now we have the insights from books, including Ben McIntyre’s thrilling book The Spy and the Traitor, serialised last week on BBC Radio 4.

There were two traitors: the sad failure Michael Bettaney who died in August and the appallingly successful CIA man Aldrich Ames who betrayed the bravest man I know, the distinguished warrior for world peace Oleg Gordievsky.

If we could have let the interwar League of Nations be more effective and interventionist, the territorial expansion by Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy should have halted early.

If the United Nations had been allowed to develop the Duty to Protect, the grim consequences in Syria could have been avoided.

Then, trade and development with effective aid could have brought forward the growth and sharing of prosperity across the globe and more fairly within nations.

We can recover from all-out war, whether civil or international.

On Tuesday, Virginia and I were at Westminster Abbey with the Dean and many others including the Bavarian glass makers for the inauguration of the David Hockney design of the hawthorn blossom, marking the Queen’s reign.

Over twenty years ago, I was part of a group who presented a stained glass window for the chapel in St James’s Palace.

It was blessed at the service to mark the centenary of the Order of Merit.

I was charmed to see Nelson Mandela sitting by Margaret Thatcher.


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