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Review: Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution? Britain on the Brink, 1832

Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution? Britain on the Brink, 1832
Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution? Britain on the Brink, 1832 by Antonia Fraser
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very thoroughly research, this book might be too lengthy for most, who want to know something about The 1832 Reform Act, but not in this detail. At 278 pages, Antonia Fraser has filled the book with fascinating quotes from the time, bringing to life the struggle between those who wanted reform of parliament, and those determined to retain the privileges of the few. Meanwhile, outside of parliament, the country was edging closer and closer to mass revolt. Parliamentarians were not safe in their own houses as the mob smashed windows in their fury at the lack of progress in ridding the country of the Rotten Boroughs and increasing the franchise to include a slightly larger percentage of the population.
If you wanted just an overview of these momentous 2 years in parliamentary history, then the 10 pages of the epilogue might suffice for you, but for the rest, don’t give up after the first few chapters for the pace of the book picks up, after a slow difficult start, as parliamentary assent gets close.
This book provides a partial social history of the time but falls short of commenting much on the dreadful starvation and deprivation under which many people were trying to exist at the time except to note that there had been a series of appalling harvests followed by severe winter weather that “bedevilled” a country already “in the throes of economic distress following the end of the Napoleonic Wars”.”. For that, go to other commentaries, or even “The Life and Adventures of William Cobbett” by Richard Ingrams, for more on determination of the rural poor that something had to change and why the lack of progress almost lead to revolution. As Antonia Fraser says when quoting Cobbett: “I defy you to agitate a fellow with a full stomache”.
So, depending on your interests and stamina, this is either a great read, or an overly lengthy drawn out dissertation on the parliamentary progress of the 1832 Reform Act. I found it hard work but worth the effort to get to the end and now I feel I understand why an Act that seemingly achieved little, prevented both revolution and opened the door to both further necessary reform and the soon coming Victorian era of government.

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Flooding on the Somerset levels

Regarding the floods on the Somerset levels, one blogger recently posted “The relative humble costs of dredging rivers on the Levels will not solve and would not have prevented the current problems”royal-navy

Much ink has been spilt on this issue but few seem to have understood the importance of the dead hand of the EU and of the UN’s Agenda 21 which have exacerbated the current problems. Just to give a couple of examples.


.. we hadn’t ”gold plated” EU Council Directive 1999/31/EC on the Landfill of Waste, not my words, but those of British Waterways who understand how difficult it is to dispose of dredging waste.

.. The Baroness Young of Old Scone, hadn’t become the Environment Agency’s new chief executive in 2002. She who had previously run the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Natural England, and was still a vice-president of the RSPB (a conflict of interest if ever there was one). Her aim was to promote the interests of wildlife, not of people, and stated that she wanted to see “a limpet mine put on every pumping station”. She proclaimed that one of her agency’s top priorities should be to create more “habitats” for wildlife by allowing wetlands to revert to nature. As she said, for “instant wildlife, just add water”. People of the levels, take note.

.. in 2007 we had fought against the floods directive (DIRECTIVE 2007/60/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 October 2007) on the “management of flood risks”, which required “flood plains”, in the name of “biodiversity”, to be made subject to increased flooding. Note, none of the political parties fought against this.

.. in 2008 The Environment Agency hadn’t implemented policy 6 of its own 275-page document categorising areas at risk of flooding, whereby, in the name of “biodiversity”, the policy was to “take action to increase the frequency of flooding”. The paper placed the Somerset Levels firmly under Policy 6, where the intention was quite deliberately to allow more flooding.

and several other actions to return the levels to flood plains, then the rivers would still be at their pre-1996 depths and would have allowed far far greater volumes of water to drain away from the levels, as they did under the old dredging boards.


.. far fewer homes, farms and businesses would be flooded.

.. flooded homes would not be flooded to the same extent.

.. flooding would have retreated sooner.

.. less damage would have been done.


”the current problems” would be far less injurious.

Some phrases are from:

North, Richard, Flooding: a synergy between “green” ideologues and Brussels, 13 February 2014


Today’s “enviro-crime” is litter and graffiti, but what is tomorrow’s: putting your bin out early maybe? This is a great initiative, but, for one brought up on “1984” and during the “Cold War”, it is worrying to see this Orwellian language creep in to local politics.


I’m just an ordinary Englishman, increasingly concerned at the erosion of basic freedoms and the all powerful, unaccountable EU Government. Sadly, the individual is no longer important to the British or EU governing elite. I’m only posting here occasionally now as there are so many excellent blogs around.


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