My old book: Barry Sheerman MP

Written by Barry Sheerman MP on 14 December 2012 in Culture
The MP for Huddersfield on his love of John Clare's poems

This article is from the January 2013 issue of Total Politics

How difficult is it to choose your favourite book? I am very passionate about the poetry of John Clare, who lived between 1793-1864 and who is our genuine peasant poet. John was a genius who received a basic education at the local Dame school in Glinton near his home in Helpston, and, once literate, never stopped writing.

My favourite books might have been The Shepherd’s Calendar (1827) or The Rural Muse (1835), but when John lived there were only 100 poems in print. Now there are over 1,000. So my favourite book is John Clare: Major Works (2008) and my favourite poem is I don’t love you, a wonderful lyrical declaration of love.

My other life-changing book would be Rationalism in Politics by Michael Oakeshott. I studied under him at the LSE and he was an inspirational teacher, a renowned philosopher who has been described as one of the most important 20th-century conservative thinkers. My own interpretation is that he’s actually a quintessentially liberal thinker.

My slightly different choice would be Tom Peters’ The Pursuit of Wow: Every Person’s Guide to Topsy-turvy Times which I have been very much influenced by. He concludes that high quality management and the desire to deliver excellence transforms lives.

Tags: Barry Sheerman MP, Issue 54, Life, My old book

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