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[/audioplayer]Just over 35 years ago, in August 1979, Christopher Booker wrote a cri de coeur in The Spectator calling for the return of England’s ancient counties and the repeal of the 1972 Local Government Act, under which most of them had been either merged, mauled, mangled or murdered.
It drew a large and almost wholly supportive response from figures as distinguished as Professor Richard Cobb (‘Booker has rendered us all a ray of hope’) and Michael Wharton, a.k.a. the Telegraph columnist Peter Simple: ‘What strange beings, in what strange offices, on what strange drawing-boards, worked out these strange -boundaries?’
Shortly afterwards Booker was summoned to 10 Downing Street, where he assumed he would meet the newly installed tenant, a female person, who would greet him briskly and say, ‘Come on, then.