Monday, 10 October 2011

‘From Aigburth to Belmarsh The career of Elliot Morley MP as seen by two of his constituents (Part 3)

Scunthorpe it self-suffered terribly at the hands of Thatcher, the steel works was decimated and the local mining community ceased to exist over the period of just a few years. Up here in Scunthorpe there were very few that felt that there was anything good about Thatcher and what she was doing to the town. This would be spelt out over the next 10 years which would see the steady decline of Scunthorpe, leaving it by the end of the 1980’s with the third highest drug related crime rate and the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the country”.

The E-Book which we are currently reviewing about the disgraced and fallen (New Labour Angel) Labour MP for the steel town of Scunthorpe, Elliot Morley. This is the story of the rise and fall of a man of whom I was once informed by a former Labour Town Mayor, and incidentally, who was at one time himself a parliamentary candidate for the Lincolnshire market town of Louth, and who said: ‘Morley was clever and was destined, headed or intending to head in a certain direction for Labours front bench in the Commons’.

I had just moved back to Scunthorpe, and was working as a fryer in a Fish and Chip Shop on the Doncaster Road, whereupon I was surprised to find the former Mayor was working part-time as a food preparation assistant – rumbling and peeling spuds that is. I knew nothing of Morley then, in fact you could say that I had my fill of the Labour Party following the Miners’ Strike, and you could also say like many we had become disenchanted with the party and had left or allowed membership to lapse.

The late 80s and Thatcher was still in her milieu and still riding the crest of a right wing wave of support in the country thanks to the dedicated media support from the likes of Rupert Murdoch and the general company of serpents, cheats and liars that ran the British press.

Just a small diversion from my theme and thread here comrades just to consider, that we can still feel and see the Thatcher legacy today. Thatcher with the Tories now under her control and ascendancy, we then experienced high unemployment and social unrest; she planed and escalated the class war as soon as the general election of October 1974 had taken place on 10 October 1974. It was the second general election of that year and resulted in the Labour Party led by Harold Wilson, winning by a tiny majority of 3 seats, it was also my first general election as an activist, albeit a very young man in the Scunthorpe Labour Party, and of course for me the start of a very long and I must admit, an enjoyable political journey of immense enlightenment.

So when I think of the Thatcher legacy, I look back to that one particular general election and see the seeds that were propagated and bred, not sunflower seeds, but germs of class hate that would germinate and bring about through Thatcher class war, and up until now with little promise of any real change, a seemingly irreversible shift in favour of the rich and powerful that has lasted until now, and time will only tell if that will be challenged and changed in the second decade of the 21st century.

Elliot Morley may never have been heard of or received in Scunthorpe for that matter, if it had not been for the defeat of John Ellis who was Member of Parliament for the then old Brigg and Scunthorpe seat from 1974 to 1979, when he lost it to the Conservative Michael Brown by 486 votes (0.7%). That as they say is another story in its very own right, but it is part of a set of historical events that paved the way ultimately and in due course for the emergence of Morley.

While I am on it I may as well say that John Ellis was the last proper old Labour politician to have represented the working class people of Scunthorpe in what veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner calls the palace of varieties’.

There is a very first time for everything comrades and I now take the liberty to quote my own work, just something that I blogged about John way back in September 2009.

“I often think back to 1974; and it just doesn’t really seem that long ago, and yet its 37 years on, where have all the years gone I do wonder sometimes. However it was a special year for me, you know one of those years that stand out amongst dare I say it; all the others. I was eighteen a shop steward in the trade union that was known as NUPE in those days, and a member of the Labour Party. It was also the year that I participated in my very first General Election. However this story’s not about me but rather someone I greatly admire and respect; the former Member of Parliament for Brigg and Scunthorpe John Ellis.”

And you can read the rest of ‘A Real Labour Man’ Here

Reading the post ‘A Real Labour Man’ will fill in many gaps for those who are interested in some of what came to pass in the Scunthorpe Labour Party, an episode on the road to Morley a destination too far perhaps – you can decide.

So before I forget we are reviewing an e-book about Elliot Morley. Now what I found to be interesting and curious about Morley was his first general election, when in fact he managed to un-seat the Tory Richard Hickmet with a very slender majority of 512 votes, and that of the subsequent dismay and challenge made by the Tories which in turn led to what was very early in his career an investigation by the police regarding election expenses. The question that runs now around my head today is was this the Elliot Morley emerging who would become a household name for all the wrong reasons twenty something years later; it also invites the query - were other members of the local Labour Party complicit with anything here? The one thing that I do know about Morley from my own experience of him is that he was a builder; somehow he was able to build up a core an inner-circle of hardened support in the constituency party. When Tony Blair assumed the leadership of the party Morley threw in his towel and gave New Labour maximum support his inner-circle played along both in the constituency party and on the local council Labour group.

Morley’s commitment to Blair and New Labour was fascinating and that’s where we will pick-up from in my next post.                

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