|Sir Richard Body|
|Member of Parliament
for Boston and Skegness
Holland with Boston (1966–1997)
31 March 1966 – 7 June 2001
|Preceded by||Herbert Butcher|
|Succeeded by||Mark Simmonds|
|Member of Parliament
26 May 1955 – 8 October 1959
|Preceded by||Bernard Braine|
|Succeeded by||Edward Gardner|
18 May 1927|
|Died||26 February 2018(aged 90)|
|Conservative, UK Independence Party|
Sir Richard Bernard Frank Stewart Body (18 May 1927 – 26 February 2018) was an English politician. He 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. Body also served as President of the Anti-Common Market League.
Sir Richard was the son of Bernard Richard Body and his wife, Daphne (formerly Corbett). His father was from a Berkshire family resident in Shinfield since the 1720s. Through his paternal grandmother, he is a third cousin of theatre director Val May. His wife is the former Marion Graham. Lady Body was a friend and Bletchley Park colleague of Valerie Middleton, the grandmother of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
Before finally gaining election at Billericay in 1955, Body had fought several elections across the country without success. He was the Conservative candidate for Rotherham in 1950, Abertillery in a by-election that same year, and then Leek in 1951.
In January 1973, Body was an opponent of Edward Heath's Counter-Inflation Bill, stating that the real cause of inflation was too much government spending. Within the Tory party his doubts were shared by Enoch Powell, Ronald Bell and Nicholas Ridley, the last of whom complained that what was needed was a "proper economic policy".
Rural Buckinghamshire-born, and representing fertile South Holland, Body was an early supporter of environmental causes within the Conservative Party. Coming from a British agriculture perspective, 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 writing Agriculture: the Triumph and the Shame, a non-fictional agricultural book exposing, it asserted, its folly, followed by Farming in the Clouds (1984). He was also critical over the use of pesticides in agriculture, and 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, which made no response and did not attempt to alter its own favoured methods. Between 1984 and 1993, Body (under the pseudonym "Old Muckspreader") also wrote the "Down on the Farm" column in Private Eye, in which he regularly criticised both CAP and environmental mismanagement of farms.
Body was generally regarded as of the "Old Right" of the party, and found himself in disagreement with the John Major government and its predecessor, including those influenced by it, who had come to dominate the parliamentary Conservative Party by the mid 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 or farming 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 the equalisation of sexuality activity to apply equally to homosexuals from the age of 16, and also supported the legalisation of cannabis. Body was for a time a member of the UK Independence Party, but has now joined the English Democrats. He called for an English Parliament in his book England for the English, published in April 2001.
Body's fervent euroscepticism led to him being numbered amongst the rebellious "bastards" condemned by John Major in 1993. His actions regarding Europe eventually led to his resigning the Conservative 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, widely considered, at least indirectly, racist on the basis of a different test for nationality than that used for all other purposes. 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 died on 26 February 2018 at the age of 90.
- "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
Sir Richard Body, former MP, 84
- Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations, 2002, p. 129
- Waterlow, Lucy. "Breaking THEIR code: Wartime secrets of Bletchley Park's female codebreakers revealed after living in silence for 70 years". UK Daily Mail - 25 January 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
- Peter Dorey, The Conservative Party and the Trade Unions, p. 81, referencing The Times dated 19, 24, and 29 January 1973.
- "The Agri Brigade". Private Eye. No. 1466. 22 March 2018.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 April 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- Wynn Davies, Patricia (12 November 1993). "Decision day for popular rebel on Major's 'barmy' list:". The Independent. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
- A Europe of Many Circles – Google Books entry
- The Breakdown of Europe – Google Books entry
- "Oral history: BODY, Richard (b.1927)". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
- "Sir Richard Body interviewed by Mike Greenwood". British Library Sound & Moving Image Catalogue. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
- Richard Bernard Frank Stewart Body Passed away on 26 February 2018, aged 90 years.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Richard Body
- Richard Body interview at History of Parliament Online
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Billericay
|Member of Parliament for Holland with Boston
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Boston and Skegness