I am not posting today in any substantive way because I spent a fair bit of time over the weekend getting the next chapter in the Drummond biography ready to post - Drummond's life 2 - Entry into politics 1907 - 1920.
I am bringing this material on now because with current interest in the revival of the new state cause, Drummond's life provides a perspective on some elements of New England history, the rise of the Movement, as well his own story. Sadly, very little has been published that can provide an entry point to this part of our collective history.
In a comment, Mark expressed surprise at the size of the Movement. This was not just a minority pressure group, a footnote in Australia's history, but a genuine movement that achieved considerable results.
Of course, my personal links mean that I can, with accuracy, be accused of bias. Still, in writing, I have tried to provide the evidence to support my conclusions.
Just at present, there is a fair bit of interest in what constitutes the New England sense of self-identity. Part of my problem is that, in growing up, I never questioned what it meant to be a New Englander, it just was, self-evident.
I might not agree, for example, with the ALP and some of the views expressed in Newcastle, but I never thought of Newcastle as being other than part of New England, our big city. It was only later when I came to do my research into Drummond and the history of the Movement that I found that there were debates and disputes about boundaries.
In the forty plus years since the defeat of the plebiscite, the concept of New England has become vaguer, more attenuated. The difference between the New England (the Tablelands) and the broader New England or North has also become an issue.
To some, New England now just means the Tablelands or perhaps Tablelands and Western Slopes. Even the very idea of the Tablelands itself has become blurred because of the way regional boundaries are drawn.
Now, when I look at some of the discussions on our sense of identity, I write because I must, to restate things that I used to take for granted.
In writing as an historian, my views are subject to challenge. Indeed, they should be. The craft of history is in part a dialectic between different ideas, a professional discourse. However, I like to think that the material I write will show people within New England something about their own past. I also like to think that my writing will make that history accessible to people outside New England, to challenge the deeply held assumption that Australia is, in some ways, a single uniform whole where variance links just to broad differences such as class, gender, party or race.
There is very little room for for regional difference in the way history is currently written. I would like to change that. We do have our own history, and need access to it.