Thursday, 22 October 2015

My tribute to Michael Meacher

Two days ago, long-serving left-wing Labour MP for Oldham West (latterly Oldham West & Royton) Michael Meacher died. He had served as an MP for more than 45 years. I never met him personally; a few years ago he planned to show up to a political session I went to, but due to unforeseen circumstances he did not do so.

Michael first came to prominence in the Oldham West by-election of 1968, where Labour lost to the Conservatives as they did in several other by-elections in otherwise safe seats in the middle of Harold Wilson's second term as Prime Minister. However, he recaptured the seat in 1970 from Keith Campbell (the Conservative MP who had taken Oldham West in the 1968 by-election) and held it until 1997, when it was replaced by the Oldham West & Royton constituency he represented until his death.

Michael was notably one of the more left-wing Labour MPs, and was a supporter of such figures as Tony Benn and latterly Jeremy Corbyn, who in his final days he was pleased to be serving under. During his time, he remained resolutely on the side of the progressives, opposing the Iraq war and many aspects of Blairism, and during the last Parliament he stood on the side of other long-serving left-wingers like Dennis Skinner, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell when large numbers of Labour MPs failed to do so. At the time of his death, he was one of the last remaining MPs first elected before Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, and had he been sworn in just some hours earlier then Gerald Kaufman he would have been Father of the House as well.

Posted in memory of Michael Hugh Meacher, born 4 November 1939, who departed this life on 20 October 2015, aged 75 years.

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