Tuesday, 18 October 2011

‘From Aigburth to Belmarsh The career of Elliot Morley MP as seen by two of his constituents (Part 5)

The Ballot Box is simply a capitalist concession. Dropping pieces of paper into a hole in a box never did achieve emancipation of the working class, and in my opinion it never will.

The Reverend Friar Thomas J. Hagerty – and big thanks to Lansbury's Lido for the quote.

First off an apology, for the time it has taken me to write and put up this last part to my review of the excellent e-book - ‘From Aigburth to Belmarsh The career of Elliot Morley MP as seen by two of his constituents’.

I will take it up from where we left off in the last instalment, and you may recall that some friends and I decided to travel to Blackpool, to give support to a motion tabled at Blair’s first conference as the party leader and opposing the removal of Clause IV. The motion moved by Glasgow Maryhill Constituency Labour Party was passed by conference, but overturned by Blair the next year, just as he said it would.

I don’t think that anyone was under any illusion even then, that Clause IV would eventually be done away with; this was the defining moment for the New Labour project and they had now got the party in the bag, remember that slogan: ‘things can only get better’.

Just some information about Glasgow Maryhill, which was a parliamentary constituency represented in the House of Commons from 1918 until 2005 when it was subsumed into the new Glasgow North and Glasgow North East constituencies.

Whilst at that conference I was able to have a word with Jeremy Corbyn MP who kindly agreed to come up to Scunthorpe if we were able to organise a public meeting in defence of Clause IV, which we did a mouth or so later, and the meeting was very well attend but didn’t really have any impact on the local party as Morley had already done his magic, but we had put down a marker and let it be known to all that New Labour and Blair had opposition in the Constituency – a socialist opposition.

I remember picking Corbyn up from Doncaster Railway Station on a very cold, iced and freezing winters evening, and during the journey to the Scunthorpe Central Community Centre, Corbyn told me that he had a word with Morley in the commons, I suppose out of respect because he was speaking in his constituency, and yet the interesting thing is that Morley didn’t attend the meeting or even any of his supporters for that matter, having said that I think that his replacement, Nic Dakin would have. 

By this time Morley was going around all the ward parties selling them the New Labour project and promising them that Blair was the man to deliver them from evil and return a Labour government. There is no question in my mind; Morley had become the standard carrier for New Labour on this side of the Humber, what with John Prescott in Hull and installed as Blair’s deputy, you could say; things could only get better for them.

It is amazing really to think that many thought Morley to be left wing and as the e-book puts it: 

“While Hull City Council was never branded with the “Militant” status of Liverpool City Council in the 1980’s, the presence and influence of one of Liverpool’s own doubtless stoked the oppositions spin and to some degree built on Elliot’s reputation as a left winger. Rumours did however surface a few years later when he was standing for election accusing him of involvement with Liverpool’s Militant Tendency and receiving support from the Socialist Worker’s Party.”

I don’t think that Morley was ever left wing really, just an opportunist who went on to feather his own bed, and he wasn’t even good at that because he got caught-out in the end. But I have to say that although this is fact, and I may have been at times frustrated, irritated and unhappy about the drift and direction that the party was going or heading in under Blair and with yes, Morley’s help, I never ever felt any personal animosity or loathing towards Morley or his cohort’s and accomplice’s in the local party, and there were many locally such as his replacement Nic Dakin one time chair of the constituency party, although I must say that Nic is a thoroughly decent comrade although our politics may differ a great deal. However there were others who I could not say the same about off-hand even tied behind my back and a gun held to my head.

Ian Cawsey would be one such chappie; Ian had, as the e-book explains, worked and acted for Morley as an advisor prior to becoming an MP himself and this close association is put forward by some to have cost Ian his seat in the 2010 election, I personally don’t know about that because the seat was always considered to be a marginal that could swing either way at the best of times, depending of course which party was able to fill the electorate with its convincing rhetoric and bullshit the most (sorry about the crudeness).

I found Cawsey to be a smooth operator, inflexible, persuasive and set in Morley’s ways, politically specking that is, like slick elastic doing some of his, Morley’s dirty work behind the scenes; indeed I found this out for myself when after a period of time I decided that the time had come to break once more with the Labour Party or rather I should say New Labour.

It was the occasion of the first ever elections to the new North Lincolnshire Council in 1995 set up by the Tories as a Unitary Authority, and that some of us in the Crosby Community Association decided to contest the Frodingham and Town ward which was held by Labour. These local authorities were set up by the Local Government Act of 1992 which form a single tier of local government. I don’t know what we were thinking about at the time really, but three of us decided that we would do it and fight the Labour Party in a local election, for me it was a stand against New Labour and Morley and his buddies in the local party.

The local party had become a sham an imitation a pretence on what it used to be, this was born-out by the fact that one of the Labour Candidate’s some years latter was convicted for being a paedophile. David Spooner had held office for over twenty years as an elected councillor and high office in administration’s for Scunthorpe; however some years later he was arrested and charged for multiple counts of sexual abuse towards young boys, and served a prison sentence; the thing about this individual is that it was suspected in the local party for years but no one said anything.

Anyhow that aside we had a good election, standing as Resident Candidate’s we worked the ward with three leaflet drops and canvasing door to door where and when we could, with only a few helpers and supporters; the Labour Party were worried so much so that Morley ordered Cawsey to draw up an eve of the poll flyer appealing to the ward electorate not to vote for us and split the Labour vote, I remember this very well because we used the same printers as Labour and I happened to be in the print shop when Cawsey was delivering his art work, in fact he joked with me saying he had in his hand something very special and not for my eyes.

Well we didn’t win the election but we gave the Labour Party a good run and the local paper describing our count as electrifying, I came bottom of the poll with 250 votes but was more than happy at that. You can view the results here.

The next time that I was to take on the local Labour Party was in 1996 when we set-up the Socialist Labour Party, this is a story in its own right which one day I will wright up for the blog sometime soon I do hope. But for the purposes of this post I will just say that we in Scunthorpe were amongst the first to join comrade Arthur Scargill in launching it the Socialist Labour Party on 1 May 1996. It was initiated by leading trade unionists and campaign activists following the final abandonment by Tony Blair's New Labour and of any commitment to enlightened and progressive change for socialism in Britain. And like I say there is another story here for another time, in terms of the Morley story and with the help of comrade Arthur Scargill we were able to put up a Socialist to fight Morley in the 1997 general election the year of New Labour and Tony Blair, there campaign was ultimately a success and the party returned an unprecedented 418 MPs and began the first of three consecutive terms for Labour in government.

In closing this rather long review of Paul Rhoades and Jake London e-book – ‘From Aigburth to Belmarsh - The career of Elliot Morley MP’ as seen by two of his constituents.’

I just want to say one or two things that rest with me personally, first a big thank you to both Paul Rhoades and Jake London for producing the e-book which is in my opinion a very important account of not just the downfall of an MP who jiggled and fiddled £30,000 of expenses, but truly proves and demonstrates that power corrupts. Morley was the MP for Scunthorpe between 1987 and 2010, he pleaded guilty in April this year to two offences under the Theft Act after making false claims for conditional conveyance of property and reimbursements of £30,428 relating to his home in Winterton, close to his constituency, between 2004 and 2007. The Ex Labour environment minister and member until striped of his title and kicked off the Privy Council a body that advises the head of state, at the moment the Queen. The word “privy” means “private” or “secret”; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisor's to give confidential advice on affairs of state. I suppose that in some ways it was appropriate that Morley should become a member of this “secret society” of crooks and just look at what happens when crooks fall-out, it’s all in the e-book and I urge you all to read it.

My last thoughts will always be that we did the right thing in opposing Morley and New Labour in 1997 and then opposing them in government especially when I think of what came to pass – Afghanistan and Iraq – our conscience is clear.  

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

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