Posts Tagged ‘‘Cranmer’’

Frank Field’s 1980s Campaign against His Own Party in Wales

July 19, 2020

Yesterday Zelo Street put up a piece about the various right-wing Blairite politicos, who deliberately campaigned against Jeremy Corbyn and Labour, who have now been rewarded with nominations for peerages from BoJob. They were Gisela Stuart, Ian Austin, John Woodcock, and Frank Field. Field, according to the Street, resigned the Labour whip last year and stood as an Independent candidate in Birkenhead. He was obviously expecting to beat his former colleagues, but was given a rude awakening when it was shown to him and the metropolitan elites who backed him how little he was regarded there personally.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/07/arise-lord-and-lady-turncoat.html

But that wasn’t the only time he stuck the knife into the backs of people in his own party. Private Eye in its ‘HP Sauce’ column in its edition for Friday, 21st August 1998 describes how he actively campaigned against the Labour Party during the European elections in north Wales in 1984. The snippet reads

Frank Field’s apparent desire to speak the unspeakable on welfare reform is not the first time he has kicked against the pricks in his party.

Back in 1980 the Eye welcomed him into parliament (New Boys, 483) recalling his nickname of “Judas”. This was earned in Labour circles for his outspoken attacks on the Wilson government when he was director of the Child Poverty Action Group. This was nothing compared to the bizarre events associated with him during the Euro elections in north Wales in 1984, however.

Labour candidate Ian Campbell found himself discredited in a series of quarter-page advertisements in the local papers, which claimed that Frank Field MP urged Labour party supporters to support Tom Ellis, the candidate for the SDP/Liberal Alliance, who was then standing on a straightforward Liberal ticket.

Pleas from Campbell to Field to retract these reported views, and to canvas with him to disprove such presumably false claims, found no response. Neither did the demands of the Labour party’s general secretary for a retraction: he was forced in a conversation with Campbell to admit that Field was simply a “maverick” over whom the party had no control.

Labour lost the seat by a small margin and Field never denied the views attributed to him – views which, according to the rules, should have led to his expulsion from the party.

When a politician says they’re going to ‘speak the unspeakable’ on welfare reform, or ‘slay the sacred cows’, they always but always mean they’re going to cut it. And there’s absolutely nothing unspeakable about it. It’s been Thatcherite orthodoxy for forty years. Field was one of the Tories’ favourite Labour MPs because of his anti-welfare stance. the British religious Right ‘Cranmer’ blog praised him in a post nearly a decade ago, and said that if he crossed the floor to the Tories he’d be most welcome. He didn’t quite do that, but he certainly campaigned for them.

And his squalid attacks on his colleagues in north Wales shows he had all the qualities of a New Labour politico then: the willingness to brief against others in his party, the intriguing and desire to see a competing party win at the expense of his own.

And it also shows how the Labour Party was willing even then to tolerate and reward behaviour from the Right that it never did from the Left.

Private Eye on Frank Field Undermining His Labour Colleagues

September 20, 2018

At the end of last month, Mike ran a story about the resignation of Frank Field from the Labour whip. Field claimed he was resigning the party whip because of the party’s supposed anti-Semitism problem and what he called ‘a culture of nastiness’.

In fact, as Mike pointed out, Field’s decision had nothing to do with any of that, and was actually spurred by him losing a no confidence vote held by his constituency party. They were angered by his decision to prop up May’s and her Tory government over Brexit.

Under party laws, Field had fourteen days to resign from the party completely or be thrown out. As for him standing as an independent, that’s an empty threat. Without the backing of the major parties, independent candidates stand little chance of getting elected. So the statement that his departure from the party could result in more right-wing Labour MPs leaving is an empty threat. They know perfectly well that if they do this, they too will vanish politically.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/08/31/dont-be-fooled-by-fake-news-frank-field-left-labour-rather-than-be-kicked-out/

As for Field’s allegation that the ‘culture of nastiness’ was being “driven, in part, by members who in previous years would never have been able to claim Labour Party membership”, this is less a description of his opponents and far more accurate as a description of him. Nearly twenty years ago, Field got into the pages of Private Eye’s ‘HP Sauce’ column because of his intriguing against colleagues in the Labour party, including urging voters to support a Liberal candidate instead.

the article was in the Eye’s edition for Friday, 21st August 1998, and ran

Frank Field’s apparent desire to speak the unspeakable on welfare reform is not the first time he has kicked against the pricks in his party.

Back in 1980 the Eye welcomed him into parliament (New Boys, 483) recalling his nickname of “Judas”. This was earned in Labour circles for his outspoken attacks on the Wilson government when he was director of the Child Poverty Action Group. This was nothing compared to the bizarre events associated with him during the Euro elections in north Wales in 1984, however.

Labour candidate Ian Campbell found himself discredited in a series of quarter-page advertisements in the local papers, which claimed that Frank Field MP urged Labour party supporters to support Tom Ellis, the candidate for the SDP/Liberal Alliance, who was then standing on a straightforward Liberal ticket.

Pleas from Campbell to Field to retract these reported views, and to canvas with him to disprove such presumably false claims, found no response. Neither did the diehards of the labour party’s general secretary for a retraction; he was forced in a conversation with Campbell to admit that Field was simply a “maverick” over whom the party had no control.

Labour lost the seat by a small margin and Field never denied the views attributed to him – views which, according to the rules, should have led to his expulsion from the party. (p. 8).

I realise the events are over thirty years ago, but they do seem to reflect very well what kind of character Field had. I could never work out why he remained in the Labour party, as he believed that life should be made even tougher for the unemployed. The Conservative Anglican blog, Cranmer, thoroughly supported him, and openly stated that Field would be welcome in the Conservative ranks if he crossed the floor.

Field’s resignation thus is no loss to the party. And as Mike points out, it leaves his constituency party free to elect a real Labour party worker to be their prospective MP.