Let's compare their legacies
IN THE Sentinel edition of Monday, September 10 it was really a great opportunity to read two articles that enabled the reader to compare two politicians who came from outside Stoke-on-Trent.
On the one hand we have Sir Barnett Stross who, in 1927, chose to come to live in Stoke-on-Trent to practise as a doctor.
It was in this role that he fought for those poor, unfortunate people who suffered from silicosis and pneumoconiosis.
Before the welfare state, he often gave his services for free and he passionately campaigned and was successful in getting the Government to offer compensation schemes to sufferers in the pottery and mining industries. He also took action to get reforms to industry in order to protect workers from industrial diseases. He became the honorary medical adviser to the local Pottery Workers Society and was also very involved with the North Staffordshire Miners Federation. He went on to serve on the council and, 18 years after serving the communities of Stoke-on-Trent, he became a Labour Member of Parliament in 1945, serving Stoke-on-Trent's Hanley Division.
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His humanitarian ideals were evident when, during the war, Hitler gave the order that 'Lidice shall die.'
This was because he believed that the assassins of Reinhard Heydrich, whose task was to eliminate the Jews, had connections with this small mining town.
We know the men over 16 were shot, the women and children sent to concentration camps and the village destroyed. It was Sir Barnett who initiated the 'Lidice shall live' movement. He persuaded miners and other workers to make donations which led to the development of the new Lidice in 1947. For this he was given the highest award that could be given to a non-Czech, the White Lion of Czechoslovakia. In addition he was given the freedom of Lidice in 1957.
On the other hand we have Dr Tristram Hunt. Before the election in 2010 no one in Stoke-on-Trent had heard of him.
He was nominated as a parliamentary candidate, foisted onto us by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.
It transpired he had been unsuccessful in gaining the nomination in two other safe Labour seats.
It would seem the selection committees in Liverpool West Derby and Leyton and Wanstead had better judgment than their counterparts here.
We know he went on to get this safe seat and has been one of our MPs for nearly two and a half years.
When I saw the title of his article "Thorny questions ahead in this Parliamentary debate", I thought that at last he had done something positive about our council's much-opposed plan to move from Stoke to Hanley. However I was once again dismayed to discover it was another historical treatise.
I then wracked my brain to try to remember anything memorable that he had done in his role of MP.
It was another Sentinel article that sprang to mind.
In it Dr Hunt was defending his 4p expenses claim for mileage for a journey of 176 yards, saying it was justified by the rules.
He did this not once, but on 14 separate occasions that year, for journeys less than a mile. That's some legacy Dr Hunt.