Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Step forward, Frank Field

The hero of the hour for forcing the Government to beat a retreat over the 10p tax rate is maverick MP for Birkenhead Frank Field who led the revolt. I met him once and he seemed to me to be a very sincere politician with a genuine interest in the less well off (at one time he headed up the Child Poverty Action Group). Part of his beliefs stem from his devout Anglicanism.

Field was brought into the New Labour government by 1997 with a brief by Tony Blair to 'think the unthinkable'. Unfortunately he did and got sacked 15 months later. He ran into a battle with the Treasury over his advocacy of compulsory private pensions. He also managed to upset his boss, Harriet Harman, which some people might think is a tick in his favour.

An admirer of Margaret Thatcher, Mr Field is something of an isolated figure on the Labour backbenches, attracting desriptions like 'idiosyncratic' or 'independent minded'. This victory will hardly make him more popular with the Government, not that he cares. It also shows that an independent minded backbencher can make a difference. Tam Dayell comes to mind, the originator of the 'West Lothian' question and scourge of Mrs Thatcher over the Belgrano, but he had more of a following in the Labour Party and was elected to the NEC.

1 comment:

Justin Greaves said...

I am also a great fan of Frank Field. Andrew Rawnsley's book 'Servants of the People' is particularly good on the explosive relationship between Field and Harman at the 'Department of Social INsecurity'