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Richard Body


Member of Parliament
for Boston and Skegness
Holland with Boston (1966-1997)
In office
31 March 1966 – 7 June 2001
Preceded by Herbert Butcher
Succeeded by Mark Simmonds

Member of Parliament
for Billericay
In office
26 May 1955 – 8 October 1959
Preceded by Bernard Braine
Succeeded by Edward Gardner

Born 18 May 1927 (1927-05-18) (age 82)
Berkshire
Nationality Birtish
Political party Labour
Religion Quaker

Sir Richard Bernard Frank Stewart Body (born 18 May 1927) is an English politician, and was Conservative Member of Parliament for Billericay from 1955 to 1959, for Holland with Boston from 1966 to 1997, and for Boston and Skegness from 1997 until he stood down at the 2001 general election. He was a long-standing member of the Conservative Monday Club and came second in its 1972 election for chairman. He also served as President of the Anti-Common Market League.[1]

Berkshire-born, Body was an early supporter of environmental causes within the Conservative Party. Coming from an agricultural background, he was highly critical of many aspects associated with the heavily subsidised agriculture associated with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1983 he wrote Agriculture the Triumph and the Shame, a book exposing the folly of the CAP, followed by Farming in the Clouds in 1984. Also critical over the use of pesticides in agriculture he led an inquiry on the issue in 1986-87. The enquiry produced a draft report which contained 45 recommendations, mostly influenced by his support for organic farming and use of such methods on his own farms. The report was ignored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who made no response and did not attempt to alter their own favoured methods as a result.

Generally regarded as located on the Old Right of the Conservative Party, Body found himself in disagreement with the Thatcher government and those influenced by it, who had come to dominate the parliamentary Conservative Party by the late 1990s. He made such views clear in March 2001, shortly before he retired as an MP, writing in the parliamentary magazine The House that the rural and specifically the agricultural communities of Britain were the victims of major changes to the culture at Westminster in his time in the Commons, as the number of Tory MPs from landowning backgrounds had declined and the number of self-made men from the suburbs on the Tory benches had increased.

In his later years as an MP Body clearly distanced himself from an ever more economic rationalist and internationalist Tory party by associating himself with a number of environmentalist groups who disapproved of large national or free-trade groupings and supported smaller, more "natural" and "organic" communities. He has been associated with such long-standing figures of the green movement such as Teddy Goldsmith, John Seymour, and John Papworth. Unlike the vast majority of Conservative MPs, Body voted in favour of legalising gay sex at 16, and also supported the legalisation of cannabis. Body is now a member of the UK Independence Party and called for an English Parliament in his book published in April 2001 entitled England For The English.

Body's fervent Euroscepticism led to him being numbered amongst the rebellious "bastards" condemned by John Major in 1993.[2] His actions regarding Europe eventually led to his resigning the Tory whip for a temporary period.

In November 1999 Sir Richard Body put forward an Early Day Motion in support of the writer Robert Henderson, who believed that his mail and telephone line had been interfered with by the security services after he had written allegedly threatening letters to Tony Blair, his wife Cherie, and various Labour MPs. This followed an article by Henderson in Wisden Cricket Monthly in 1995 entitled "Is it in the blood?" which suggested that only "unequivocal Englishmen" should play cricket for England and was widely considered racist. Body's Motion not only defended Henderson and accused Blair of interfering with Henderson's activities, but referred to "publicly reported incidents of racism within the Labour Party". This may have been an allusion to some controversial remarks about "blue-eyed, blonde Finnish nurses" made by the black Labour MP Diane Abbott, who had earlier accused Henderson of racism.

He is a vice-president of the Society for Individual Freedom.

His written works on eurosceptic themes include A Europe of Many Circles and The Breakdown of Europe (which purposefully echoed Leopold Kohr's book The Breakdown of Nations).

References

  1. ^ Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations, 2002, p. 129
  2. ^ Wynn Davies, Patricia (12 November 1993). "Decision day for popular rebel on Major's 'barmy' list:". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/decision-day-for-popular-rebel-on-majors-barmy-list-patricia-wynn-davies-reports-on-the-fate-of-sir-richard-body-1503654.html. Retrieved 24 November 2009.  

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bernard Braine
Member of Parliament for Billericay
1955–1959
Succeeded by
Edward Gardner
Preceded by
Herbert Butcher
Member of Parliament for Holland with Boston
1966–1997
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Boston and Skegness
1997–2001
Succeeded by
Mark Simmonds
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