Family Lessons 79: Social Reformers

Peter Airey was my second cousin, 4 times removed. He was born in 1865 at Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire, and died in Queensland, Australia, in 1950. A labourer and the son of a labourer, he emigrated in 1875 to seek a better life. He became a teacher and a leading light in one of the early teaching unions, successfully demanding better pay for his colleagues (his services might have been seized upon by British teachers in our own decade). In 1901, he was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly representing the Labor Party. He was appointed to the central political executive bearing responsibility for mines and public works, and then served as the state's Home Secretary. Although a Labor Party member, he did not claim to be a socialist but a ‘reformist liberal’. He is recorded saying:

'I started life as a joyous enthusiast and regenerator but I have come to the conclusion that an essential preliminary to social reform is the extermination of two-thirds of the social reformers'.

This made me laugh. What he would have made of today’s social reformers and engineers, I cannot imagine. We are scrapping gender, destroying marriage, encouraging children to ‘identify’ as whatever they wish; we exterminate the unborn and encourage terrifying drag queens into toddlers’ play groups to help ‘normalise’ the practice. While left-leaning intellectuals and shrieking, university-educated liberals are tearing down the common-sense values and characteristics of Western civilisation, we may wonder with Edmund Burke at the inherent virtue of what he called the “wisdom of unlettered men.”

Peter Airey may have come from a poor cottage in Furness, but he likely had more common sense than many of today’s well-educated fools who do not even believe in the existence of women.

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