"'I'm not sure," Ross said, 'that the maintenance and transaction of government is at all well served by the present system of representation and election...I have been taking more notice of the system as it exists in England today and it's like some ramshackle old coach of which the springs and swingle bar are long broke and there are holes in the floor from bumping over rutted roads. It should be thrown out and a new one built.'

          Ross Poldark goes on to argue that a situation where sparsely populated Cornwall could send several MPs to Parliament (all of them the puppets of wealthy landowners), while the densely populated new cities of the North were often unable to return even one MP, was desperately unfair.

          The book from which I took this quote is 'The Four Swans', first published in 1976, when Graham was 68.  And here we are in 2022. Forty-six years after the book was published, two hundred and twenty-six years after it's set, and has anything much changed? The strings of our MPs are now pulled by big business as well as big landowners and, despite 'reform', our gerrymandered borders and 'First-Past-the-Post' system still ensure that tens of thousands of Britons are disenfranchised at every election.

          I've been reading the Poldark books, by Winston Graham. I never expected to find anything as radical as the above quote in them. But then, I've found the books, and their author, rather surprising...


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