||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2010)|
|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 |
|Political party||English Democrats|
|Conservative, UK Independence Party|
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.
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). 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.
Generally regarded as of the "Old Right" of the party, Body 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/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 UKIP but has now joined the English Democrats. He has 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. 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, 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.
- Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations, 2002, p. 129
- 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
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Richard Body
|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