Ilkeston’s reluctant MP

The political correspondent of the Sunday Express in January 1934 mused on just what our elected members were doing for their vast salary of £360 a year. Mr Flint had, he said, made a speech on the first day of the new parliament after his election. He had also seconded an address to the King. Then for over two and a half years at the time of reporting he said nothing. The member for Ilkeston, who lived in Birmingham and worked as a barrister on the Midland circuit, answered the charges frankly, stating:

“I would not have stood if I thought there was any fear of my being elected. I have no political ambitions whatever.

What young man on the threshold of a career would want to be hampered by having to attend to divisions and such things in the House of Commons when he should be looking after his practice? I had not the slightest intention of standing for Parliament. But just about two weeks before the election Mr JH Thomas, who is an old friend of my father’s and who played cricket with me when I was a youngster of five, rang me up and asked if I would stand. He told me that I had not an earthly chance. I would not have stood if I had known that I would get in.”

I think Mr Flint’s candour, if not his parliamentary work ethic, his admirable. It reminds me of Gyles Brandreth’s overused quip that the only thing he couldn’t stand when being an MP were his constituents.

AJ Flint MP did eventually muster the enthusiasm to speak again in parliament, making a speech in April 1934 in support of the Road Traffic Bill, calling for cyclists to carry compulsory lamps.

Surprisingly enough he announced in 1935 that he wouldn’t be standing for re-election, mainly because he really did have no chance of winning this time.

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