A great political philosopher

An article in The Times on February 14 featured the brilliant comic writer, Richmal Crompton, whose famous William books, of which some 12 million have been sold, have given enormous pleasure to generations of children. A spate of letters followed, including one from Alistair Lexden, published on February 19.

Sir, The many reasons for venerating William (Comment, Feb.14, and letters, Feb.15,16, & 18) include his insights into interwar politics. In the short story, “William the Prime Minister” (1930), the outlaws hold a mock election. William sets out his philosophy. “There’s four sorts of people tryin’ to get to be rulers. They all want to make things better, but they want to make ‘em better in different ways. There’s Conservatives an’ they want to make things better by keeping ‘em jus’ like what they are now. An’ there’s Lib’rals an’ they want to make things better by alterin’ them jus’ a bit, but not so’s anyone’d notice, an’ there’s Socialists, an’ they want  to make things better by takin’ everyone’s money off ‘em, an’ there’s Communists an’ they want to make things better by killin’ everyone  but themselves.” 

William, the Conservative candidate, is elected unanimously.

Lord Lexden
House of Lords