Mike Bloxsome's biography of Newport MP Peter Freeman is a great read.
Peter Freeman raced like a shooting star across the parliamentary
firmament trailing a dazzling aurora. His trajectory was sometimes
capricious but always defined by originality, conviction and
idealism. Peter was a backbenchers’ backbencher untouched by
the tyranny of the party whips, electoral pressure or the media.
Assertive, intelligent, principled and unambitious for office, he
was the living nightmare for party disciplinarians. Many
contemporary backbenchers have been castrated, mesmerised and
lobotomised by ambition. The legacies of their careers will not be
celestial, trails not of stars but slugs.
Newport was a hospitable habitat for Peter the vegetarian after
the sneering, doltish abuse heaped on him by the local aristocracy
– the ‘county set’ – in his previous rural parliamentary seat.
Newport Labour Party annually renews its pride in its Chartist
roots and rededicates itself to progressive causes. It was a delicious
pleasure to remind Tony Blair of the city’s radical independence.
On the day after he appointed the new Archbishop of Canterbury,
there was a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Tony was
taken aback when I told him that the new Archbishop had always
been a reliable supporter of all Labour Party Policies, adding “as
interpreted by Newport West Labour Party”. In his distinguished
11-year-stint in the city Rowan Williams echoed and built on the
courage and originality of the Chartists and Peter Freeman.
Mike Bloxsome reveals in this fascinating book that Freeman’s
vision was two generations before his time. He tried to ban fox
hunting with dogs three quarters of a century before the Commons
were convinced. The animal rights movement has not yet caught
up with the strength and purity of the conviction that forced him
to embrace a cruel death for himself.
To the dim-witted, Peter’s conduct and views seemed random
and contradictory: a rampant womaniser who was moved to a
self-sacrificial tender lifelong devotion; the successful entrepreneur
who planned to reshape the worker-employer relationship; the
impassioned internationalist who longed for a Welsh parliament;
the prophetic social reformer who was an adherent of a church
that has almost vanished; the world class sportsman who refused
life-improving medicine because of its origins. All were facets of
a coherent unique political personality. Mike Bloxsome has
captured the living memories of this archetypal environmentalist
at the precise moment when they were about to disappear into
oblivion. Posterity should now grant Peter Freeman’s memory
the respect, gratitude and admiration denied to him during his
tumultuous, extraordinary and ultimately tragic life. The Green
Casanova presents the world environmental movement with a new