The former Labour MP’s defection, and the later split within that party, has not yet found in a parallel in our own turbulent times.
Two cheers for a measure that, though mostly about managing, dividing and taming popular opinion, remains a reforming landmark.
And those that never were, such as 1978, 1991 and 2007. Prime Ministers tend to make the opposite error to that of their predecessors.
The shock over the overall result has distracted us from how remarkable some of each party’s gains really were.
The governments of the 1930s illustrate how little a huge majority is worth if it isn’t married to a strong and imaginative policy programme.
John Major secured more votes than any other Prime Minister in unpromising circumstances – but ‘stretching the elastic of democracy’ would cost the Party dearly.
Even more than party disagreements over what should replace it, the idea of a very powerful second chamber is out of constitutional fashion.
Reading back, it highlights how supposedly level-headed ‘realists’ were so slow to recognise the true nature of the National Socialist regime.
Does the Anglican character of Toryism explain why it’s avoided producing the long and fascinating list of breakaways sported by Labour and the Liberals?
The story of who won (like David Davis). And who lost (like Zac Goldsmith).
None the less, the local Conservatives exploited the climate of prejudice, while Labour sometimes bent to accommodate it.
It has been where there is an air of panic and chaos, with a government forced to bow its knee to the markets, that there is real political damage.
They will be strange, edgy experiences: I can hardly wait.
They have gone either way in successive elections, but their recent results show up electoral trends that helping the Tories.
It was not entirely clear at the time that it had created a new political structure that would last for generations – with the Conservatives as the leading party of the state.