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The return of Degsy – welcome or not

DegsySo Degsy’s back, for now. Deejays, aka Derek Hatton, was always a bit brash so re-joining Labour 30 or so years after being expelled would not be something he’d want to do quietly. So even though he says “I just want to be a party member…. I have no intention of being a main player. I have not joined to stand as a politician“, it’s not something he’d do without making a splash. In the Liverpool Echo, and on the telly. And so it is not so surprising perhaps that it has attracted the attention of Labour general secretary, Iain McNicol, who has objected to him joining. But however unsavoury a character I find Degsy, I cannot think of a good reason for keeping him out.

Not his politics as they are now:

People have been calling for the Labour Party to cut its links with the trade unions and I thought ‘I would never forgive myself if I didn’t involve myself and support these traditional links’.

People say it’s a different world and it is – the world is different, Liverpool is different and Derek Hatton is different, but certain fundamental principles should never die. The Labour Party was founded by the trade union movement and no one should pretend it wasn’t.”

Hardly a reason for non-admission! He tells the Echo he’s “very impressed” with Tom Watson (a “real fighter“), thinks Andy Burnham is a “great Evertonian” and has “always been a big supporter of Joe Anderson.” He even claims he’s now “way to the right” of Alistair Campbell.

According to Michael Crick, author of the definitive work on Militant, he was “not a particularly important member of Militant, simply a very useful one.” His sharp suits and his daughter’s ponies, his love of night-clubs and fancy restaurants, his self-promotion and fondness for talking to journalists (earning him the soubriquet “Hatton-the-mouth”), not to mention drinking and going to Everton matches with them, never endeared him to his comrades in the Tendency. He didn’t exactly seem to “live on a worker’s wage” as Militant MP Terry Fields once remarked.

Degsy became the story – the real leader of Liverpool Council, that decent amiable old gent John Hamilton, barely got a look in, so much so, says Crick, that even Militant full-timers tried to persuade Hamilton to push himself forward more. But it wasn’t a good story.

Degsy looked like a dodgy geezer. After backing planning permission for an ASDA hypermarket in the Speke enterprise zone against Liverpool party policy, the Liverpool Echo filmed him on holiday in Tangier with ASDA’s PR man.When he backed planning permission for an amusement arcade (also against party policy), he was spotted at an Everton away match in Czechoslovakia with the arcade’s builder – a Liberal councillor.

I didn’t like Degsy one little bit. He was sectarian, rude and appallingly sexist. During a meeting of ratecapped authorities, I once heard him shout at the then leader of Hackney Council, Hilda Kean “shut up love and get back to your knitting“. He gave Militant a worse name than it would have had without him, and that is to say nothing of what he’s done since, in the media, as a property developer and businessman.

Ken Livingstone was even harsher. He once wittily described Degsy in Tribune (7 March 1986) as “possibly one of the most attractive faces of the Labour Party since Oswald Mosely“.

But is this grounds for expulsion, 30 years on from the last one, when he has clearly had no connection with any Militant successor organisation for almost all that time? He’s committed no crime. He’s broken no rule. Let’s not give him the satisfaction of being a victim again or we’ll be reading about it for weeks.

 

32 Comments

  1. gerry says:

    Jon – please don’t waste valuable Left Futures column inches on wretched non-stories like this. Hatton is yet another self publicist egomaniac a la Galloway and Rahman, and should never be readmitted to Labour where he will only cause more self inflicted pain. We should be focussing our minds and efforts on how we reconnect with the British people and – somehow – get 13-14 million of then to vote for us!

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      I don’t agree with you Gerry. Arbitrary exclusion from the party has nothing to do with justice and we know where it leads. Justice is a principle worth upholding even where the beneficiary is not personally worthy of much sympathy. Your comparisons are useful, though. Both Galloway and Rahman were driven out of the Labour Party in an unjust way, and Labour paid a significant price in both cases – and will continue to suffer significant mistrust by local Muslim communities for some time to come.

      1. gerry says:

        Jon – Hatton, Galloway and Rahman are truly beyond the pale in their egomania, megalomania, and in the last of the three, corruption.It is really sad that you want them back in the party when all three have done so much to bring my party into disrepute, and would continue to do so.

        Dave – you put the case against Hatton better than I did. I am pleased Iain has called a halt to his application.

        BillericayDickie – you are absolutely right re Tower Hamlets. We must never let people like Rahman and Galloway poison local politics again, and if the Tower Hamlets First/”independent” candidate Ms Khan or London mayoralty candidate Galloway ever get their hands on power again, then heaven help us all!

        1. Jon Lansman says:

          Gerry: I don’t “want Hatton back in the party” – I just don’t want him kicked out without any just cause. The other two haven’t applied for membership but they were at one stage done an injustice which whatever has taken place since does not undo. By all means condemn people for what they have done wrong, but do not condemn them where there is not just cause.

          1. Billericaydickie says:

            How do you feel about Livingstone being expelled for campaigning against a Labour candidate? And would you like to comment the so called ” dodgy dossier “, I think you coined the name, alleged by you to have been concocted by Helal Abbas Uddin who has just won a legal action against a Lutfur Rahman newspaper who accused him of being a wife beater. Perhaps you also owe Uddin an apology. I’m not holding my breath.

        2. Graham says:

          Let’s remember that the Tower Hamlets election commissioner reserved his strongest criticism for the Labour NEC, which he said was a “disgrace” for deselecting Rahman as Labour mayoral candidate.

          As for Hatton, we’re talking about stuff that happened 29 years ago. It’s pretty clear he doesn’t have the same positions he had back then, and while he evidently still likes the sound of his own voice, I do doubt it’s power he’s after. If we can get over SDPers like Polly Toynbee, Andrew Adonis and even David Owen rejoining, surely Hatton, who never stood against Labour, is not a problem.

          And Jon is absolutely right – we can’t choose people willy nilly – if they break the rules, they should be out. Otherwise, they can join if they damn well want to so long as they pay their subs!

          1. gerry says:

            Graham – haven’t you/we learned anything in the last 20 years?

            People like Hatton, Galloway and Rahman are pure poison, and if any of them were allowed back in the party, their sickening megalomania and look-at-me-infantile-pseudo-leftism would contaminate our party, just as it did when they were members.

            And don’t equate them to decent social democrats like Polly Toynbee or Andrew Adonis , both of whose natural home is in the Labour Party! And as a Labour leftie myself, I want to keep them in it.

        3. Billericaydickie says:

          Thanks gerry, I’m only saying what Labour people in Tower Hamlets have been saying for years. Unfortunately one of the reasons why Rahman was able to poison public life there for so long is that sections of the left like Jon Lansman refused to believe that anything that was aid about Rahman from the likes of Andrew Gilligan was true because it came from Gilligan.

          It was of course Gilligans revelations about Lee Jasper and the missing millions that brought Livingstone down and that was unforgivable. The fact that they were true was for the left irrelevant! The same standards were applied to Rahman.

          The fantasies that were spun on left sites like this were incredible. Sometimes I found it difficult to believe that grown people could put any credence in them but I always had to remember that it was exactly this sort of person who refused to believe that Stalin killed anybody and that Easter Europe was a workers paradise.

          The whole thing has been summed up in this article http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/6072/full If there are any Rahman apologisers left could they dissect it line by line and not simply dismiss the whole thing as lies as if they were the prosecuters at a Stalinist show trial.

      2. Billericaydickie says:

        You’re still in denial aren’t you? You called it wrong on Respect, Galloway and Lutfur Rahman and you won’t admit it. What’s worse about you is that you live in Tower Hamlets and have no excuse for what you write.

  2. Robert says:

    Liz Kendal I will back the 2% budget for the MOD.

    Liz Free schools work.

    Liz I would not cut the tuition fees.

    Lets ask Hatton to stand for god sake he has more socialism even communism in his little finger then this Progress drone.

    We talk of labour being a mixed bag of views, well one view it seems is that labour has to become Tory lite to win, it’s been tried because Progress ran Miliband.

  3. Hatton was never established to be a Militant member, and seems always to be part of the Derek Hatton tendency. However giving him publicity only helps his cause. No reason to keep him out however, I can’t see anything in the rule book last time I looked at it which would do this. But it was a long time ago I last looked.

    Interested to know where Liz Kendall made these statements. If the site is to have any credibility all statements should be sourced

    Trevor Fisher

    1. John P Reid says:

      Kendall, made the first two comments on radio 4 Saturday the 16th, not heard the tuition fees one

      1. John P Reid says:

        She actually said on free schools, that a future labour government would have to see if they could work with the ones that already exist,

  4. Dave says:

    Everything you say is 100% correct Gerry.
    Hatton was and still is reviled by most people in Liverpool. As for his rise to riches and self promotion, that saga is well documented and we need say no more. Just “Keep the man out” he is nothing but trouble!

  5. Gary Elsby says:

    Meanwhile in Stoke-on-Trent………

    Our three MPs got back in, one by his fingernails.
    Labour lost control of the City to people no-one wanted, but they didn’t want Labour the most.

    At the first full council, two Labour councillors voted for the ‘opposition’ and their leader to be leader.

    Is there any chance that when we’ve done the Derek Hatton thing, we can then have an inquiry into why this ‘natural led Labour City’ is now in the hands of a convicted sex offender (children+offenders register) and ‘ex’ BNP members?

    The Tories, UKip and ‘Independents’ (Tories).

    General Secretary, what have you done to my City?

    1. John P Reid says:

      Quite

    2. Billericaydickie says:

      The answer is Gary because people voted for them. It’s as simple as that. There is now no such thing as a ” natural led Labour City “.

      1. Gary Elsby says:

        Stoke-on-Trent IS a natural Labour led City and we saw off Thatcher (and got extra funding) and we saw off the Militant tendency (remember our elected Mayor?).
        How come over 500 members walked out 2010-2015?
        Because of Ed? NO CHANCE!
        We’ve got a hat-trick of parachute MPs whereby London re-hears it’s own voice and not ours.
        We have 50% parachute councillors we’ve never heard of.
        Who chose those candidates to ‘represent’ us?
        No-one from Stoke.
        Ex leaders,ex whips, ex councillors, ex members, all ‘natural’ Labour supporters are rabid and foaming to smash Labour to pieces even within the last hour.
        In my 30 years of Labour membership I have never seen anyone far right or far left, just moderates all round.
        A conspiracy was had to nobble this City which saw support drain away.
        It will not stop until Labour is eradicated because this Labour Party is not recognised by the majority of former members or public.
        The NEC must send a working party to hear ALL voices.

        1. Gary Elsby says:

          Even worse than I feared.
          The Conservative party have sent a Minister to sit in on the Council.

          I’m hearing they consider the 3 MPs to be vulnerable and the Labour Party to be on the verge of collapse.

          I don’t think that view is wrong.

  6. prianikoff says:

    Bit of a wide boy, but that wasn’t why he was expelled. The New Labour entyrists around Progress represented a far greater threat to the Labour Party and they’re coming out of the woodwork big-time.

    Regarding the “shut up love and get back to your knitting“ comment.
    Not very nice. But as I recall Hilda was one of the IMG women who used to spend their time knitting furiously throughout meetings, like members of the Committee of Public Safety and certainly she was certainly capable of giving back as good as she got.

    1. John P Reid says:

      When did progress have voting rights at local meetings, use block votes at their own meetings to impose policies and deselect sitting members?

    2. Jon Lansman says:

      Prianikoff: The late Hilda’s ability to give it back was not in question, and it is true that she used to and was at that meeting knitting. But that is no excuse. But I agree that Progress are the entryists not Degsy these days.

      1. prianikoff says:

        Late -perhaps you were talking in terms of the Labour Party?

        AFAIK, Hilda has not fallen off the perch.
        https://twitter.com/hildakean

        re. The “Progress” Tendency

        I have to agree with his Lord Mandelson, when he said that any comparison between Progress and Militant was “absurd”.

        “Militant” was a socialist organisation, made up almost entirely of working class activists and funded by their subscriptions.

        “Progress” is an anti-socialist organisation, largely made up of political careerists and heavily funded by a billionaire who inherited a fortune from his family.

        His loyalty to “mainstream Labour” can certainly be questioned:-

        Lord Sainsbury supported of the SDP split , only re-joining the Labour Party when this had collapsed.

        When Ed Miliband became leader of the party, he once again withdrew his funds and donated them to an organisation set up to promote his brother David.

        It was found that he was not on the UK electoral register and he was fined.

        Membership of the” Progress 100 club” costs much more than membership of the Labour Party £120-250-500 compared to £45.

        How is it that a private company/charity can host an event, where potential contestants for the Labour leadership are paraded to the media, which treats it as an official Labour Party conference?

        1. John P Reid says:

          I don’t think,the media tweets Progress events a soffical labour events some of the people who’ve talked their have beenUSA democrats,or ex SDP journalists,

          Regarding militant being working class, lol,I know it was only a drama but at the End of GBH when they got in the van to drive off at the end after being told what they did was nothing todo with Socialism, they’ll spoke in Home Counties accents,

  7. Chris says:

    He was never a Labour man in the past – Militant was a thoroughly alien grouping, but I see no real reason why he shouldn’t be allowed in all these years later.

  8. James Martin says:

    It’s worth remembering the achievements of Liverpool City Council at the time when the 47 surcharged comrades (only a minority of who were Militant supporters) were in power. Thousands of new council homes with gardens, new free sports centres and facilities in the most deprived areas of Europe, hundreds of new genuine apprenticeships n(rather than the YTS slave labour schemes of Thatcher). I was a member of the Liverpool Labour Broad Left at the time of the Tory and Kinnock attacks on all this (remember Kinnock closed down the District Labour Party that was one of the most active in the country) and well remember the regular large meetings of over a 1,000 Labour members (of which maybe a few hundred were Militant supporters) and that pulled in most of the local trade union activists.

    Hatton was always about himself, but he led well enough in terms of pulling massive numbers of local people (and particularly young people) behind socialist ideas and was part of an absolute crushing of the local fascists at the time who were seeking to exploit the unemployed and desperate. The irony for the media is that Militant threw him out quite early on for his displays of sexism and egotism (but they kept this quite due to wanting to display unity against the Tories – mistakenly in my view).

    Since then Hatton has been a successful business man (what else!) and a very effective (and funny) radio presenter of debate shows. He was expelled let us remember for being a member of Militant (although as I’ve said ironically at the time he actually wasn’t), but he has not been in a left group so far as I’m aware since then, he has never stood against a Labour candidate at any election (unlike someone like Ken Livingstone) nor has he done anything that justifies not being allowed to be a Party member now (particularly as we still allow vermin like Frank Field who regularly lines up with the Tories to hold a Party card). To refuse Hatton a Party card now is simply undemocratic nastiness and should be opposed by anyone calling themselves socialist – let him in!

    1. John P Reid says:

      Livingstone, got the party members vote at the se
      Cation for the 200 mayor choice, but the block vote ( ironically introduced by Benn, for selecting policies) was used to have us select Frank Dobson, Livingstone didn’t agree with the deselection of Lufthur Tahman, maybe he didn’t know about the alleged corruption, so he backed him as an independent for mayor of TH.
      As for Degsy, there was a reason he didn’t stand against labour,he knew he wasn’t going to win, when Degsy was in militant, they put up candidates against labour.
      Frank field is a great man.Hatton was expelled for life, same as Mosley, end of,

    2. gerry says:

      James – that’s uncharacteristically nasty of you! Frank Field and other social democrats should always have a place in the party! I am – like you say you are – from the Labour Left since 1979, but always recognised the damage intolerant sectarians like Militant and other entryists did to my party in the 1980s. I am pleased we got rid of them, and I hope Hatton and others are not allowed to rejoin.

      And to equate them to Progress is just silly – the Labour Party has always been home to socialists, social democrats, social liberals, centrists and even right wingers (I remember some of the trade union right and also old Labour right wingers like Bob Mellish) – long may that continue!

      If Progress bought us into disrepute like Hatton, Rahman and Galloway, I would agree with you….but they clearly have not, and it is good that people like Liz Kendall, Tristram Hunt et al have a natural home in this coalition that is the Labour Party: they are simply the modern day heirs to Fabians and other social liberals, and part of the “triangulation” tradition.

      1. James Martin says:

        Gerry, you don’t want Hatton to be allowed to join, but why if he is no longer in an entryist group (and hasn’t been for 30 years)? After all significant numbers of the New Labour right (including some ministers) were former members of the Communist Party – but it seems no one held that against them, so why be so inconsistent? As to damage, the only damage done in Liverpool was by Kinnock and the right-wing who destroyed the Party for many years there (allowing the Lib-Dems to rule as substitute Tories) and expelled large numbers of fantastic socialists, and that is something we should never forgive or forget.

        1. John P Reid says:

          The libdems already, had David Alton, and destroying the party for a bit,at the extent of not letting ,militant destroy the party completely with non socialist undemocratic ways

          The difference between former trots like Straw or communists like Ried or Clarke, was there weren’t part of a organization braking the party rules in entryism

          1. James Martin says:

            John, you really haven’t got a clue have you. I can tell you – because I was there – that the Liverpool Labour Party during those years was the most vibrant and democratic that I have been a member of, and stands in marked contrast to the imposed candidates and stitch-ups that marked the onset of New Labour. Militant comrades often lost votes in Broad Left and DLP meetings given they were a minority, and not all the tactics and policies of the council Labour group or local Party were theirs. What really got the right wing in my opinion was unlike those fake lefts in other councils at the time with their ‘dented shields’ (Blunket etc.) Liverpool mattered because we actually started to transfer socialism out of a committee meeting and onto the streets (the new houses, jobs and leisure facilities etc.).

            As to the former (Euro) Communist Party members who made up much of the inner New Labour clique it is a matter of debate whether they were entryists or not – they certainly acted the part, and it is beyond question that the ideology of their ‘Project’ was completely alien to the traditional labour movement.

          2. gerry says:

            John – what you say is absolutely right.

            James – I understand your anger as a part of the Broad Left in the 1980s, but many people in the Liverpool party DID use entryism to drive out those they deemed “not socialist enough”, and they DID intimidate, bully and vilify other perfectly decent Labour members: so please dont rewrite history.

            Let’s all just move on from this dark part of our party’s history….and this means keeping poisonous egomaniacs like Hatton, Galloway and Rahman as far away from us as possible.

            As I said to Jon – let’s focus on reconnecting with the British people: I just read that over 60% of pensioners in 2015 voted Tory or UKIP – it is those and others we need to win over and convince!

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