Michael Meacher

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The Right Honourable
Michael Meacher
MP
Michael Meacher MP.jpg
Minister of State for the Environment
In office
2 May 1997 – 13 June 2003
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Elliot Morley
Shadow Minister for Environmental Protection
In office
25 July 1996 – 2 May 1997
Leader Tony Blair
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
In office
20 October 1994 – 19 October 1995
Leader Tony Blair
Preceded by Frank Dobson
Succeeded by Clare Short
Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Shadow Minister for the Citizen's Charter
In office
21 October 1993 – 20 October 1994
Leader John Smith
Preceded by Mo Mowlam
Succeeded by Ann Taylor
Shadow Minister for Overseas Development
In office
18 July 1992 – 21 October 1993
Leader John Smith
Preceded by Ann Clwyd
Succeeded by Tom Clarke
Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security
In office
2 November 1989 – 18 July 1992
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by Robin Cook (Health and Social Services)
Succeeded by Donald Dewar
Shadow Secretary of State for Employment
In office
13 July 1987 – 2 November 1989
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by John Prescott
Succeeded by Tony Blair
Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Services
In office
31 October 1983 – 13 July 1987
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by Gwyneth Dunwoody
Succeeded by Robin Cook
Member of Parliament
for Oldham West and Royton
Oldham West (1970–1997)
Incumbent
Assumed office
18 June 1970
Preceded by Bruce Campbell
Majority 9,352 (21.8%)
Personal details
Born (1939-11-04) 4 November 1939 (age 75)
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England
Political party Labour
Alma mater New College, Oxford
London School of Economics
Website Official website

Michael Hugh Meacher (born 4 November 1939) is a British Labour politician who has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1970, initially for Oldham West and for Oldham West and Royton beginning in 1997.

On 22 February 2007 he declared that he would be standing for the Labour Leadership, challenging Gordon Brown and John McDonnell.[1] On 14 May, however, after talks with John McDonnell, he announced he would stand aside in order to back McDonnell as the "candidate of the left".[2]

Beginnings[edit]

Born in Hemel Hempstead, the son of an accountant and stock-broker, he was educated at Berkhamsted School, New College, Oxford and the London School of Economics, where he gained a Diploma in Social Administration. He became a researcher and lecturer in social administration at Essex and York universities and wrote a book about elderly people's treatment in mental hospitals. He was the Labour Party candidate for Colchester at the 1966 general election, and fought the 1968 Oldham West by-election after the resignation of Labour MP Leslie Hale but lost to Conservative candidate Bruce Campbell.[3]

In Parliament[edit]

Meacher in 2005

Junior minister[edit]

He was first elected to Parliament in 1970 for Oldham West, reversing his previous defeat, and served as a junior minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan (Under-Secretary for Industry, 1974–75, Under-Secretary for Health and Social Security, 1975–79). During opposition he was in the Shadow Cabinet for fourteen years and concurrently lectured at the LSE. He was seen as a figure on the left and an ally of Tony Benn and stood as the left's candidate against Roy Hattersley in the 1983 deputy leadership election.

Blair Ministry[edit]

He was an elected member of the Shadow Cabinet from 1983 to 1997, but Tony Blair refused to appoint him to the Cabinet and instead made him Minister of State for the Environment, first at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1997–2001), then at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2001–2003). Despite Blair's hostility, Meacher gained a reputation for being a politician who was on top of a complex brief[4] and was one of the longest serving ministers in the same job in the Labour government, from 1997-2003. He was criticised for hypocrisy when he condemned second home owners; according to the BBC and Channel 4's The Mark Thomas Comedy Product, he and his wife owned more than five homes themselves.[5]

Political activities after 2003[edit]

He was sacked in June 2003, to be replaced by Elliot Morley. Since then he has attacked the government on a number of issues, most notably that of genetically modified food and the 2003 Iraq war, though in the run-up to the invasion he had accepted reports by the intelligence services and government saying that Iraq had Chemical Weapons.[6]

Meacher has claimed that a supposed absence of prevention by United States authorities of the hijackings on 11 September 2001 was suspicious and "offered an extremely convenient pretext" for subsequent military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.[7][8] This was seen as giving "credence to conspiracy theories" as claimed by the newspapers The Daily Mail and The Guardian.[9][10] Michael Meacher has also written a foreword for David Ray Griffin's book The New Pearl Harbor.[11]

In May 2005, he introduced an early day motion on climate change to parliament, which calls upon the government to commit to yearly CO2 emission reductions of 3%.[12]

In June 2006, various articles appeared in the British media claiming Meacher would stand as a stalking horse against Tony Blair in order to initiate a leadership contest; others suggested, especially after Brown came out in support of the Trident missile programme and nuclear energy, that Meacher would challenge Brown from the left. He announced his candidacy for the Labour leadership on 22 February 2007.

On 23 September 2006, Meacher became the sixth Labour MP to start a blog.[13] Meacher has also written articles for ePolitix.com, which has included criticism of Blair and Brown for perceived right-wing policies, including privatization. He has called for a more conciliatory policy in the Middle East, attempts to tackle income inequality, and a greater commitment to reducing energy use.[14]

In 2013, Meacher, attacked the firm Atos and its Work Capability Assessments of disabled people carried out on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, in a sustained campaign documented through his blog.[15][16]

Leadership bid[edit]

On 22 February 2007, Meacher declared his intention to stand for the leadership of the Labour Party claiming he had the support of a large number of MPs. The decisions of both Michael Meacher and John McDonnell to run for the leadership have been controversial[citation needed] with many annoyed that John McDonnell did not consult with other members of the Socialist Campaign Group[citation needed], and many others accusing Michael Meacher of trying to split the nominations and keep John McDonnell off the ballot paper, although neither candidate was thought by many to have any chance of winning the Labour leadership.[17][18]

On 21 April 2007, The Guardian claimed that Meacher had the support of no more than three MPs and that his campaign was "virtually dead in the water".[19]

On 27 April 2007, it was reported that Meacher had reached an agreement with John McDonnell that on the day Tony Blair announced his resignation, whichever of the two of them had the fewer nominations would step aside and allow the other to challenge Gordon Brown.

On 14 May 2007, Meacher agreed to stand aside to allow John McDonnell to be the sole leadership candidate of the left. Subsequent articles reported that Meacher had 21 declarations of support while McDonnell had 24. In the Labour Party's leadership nomination process, McDonnell received nominations from 29 MPs.

Outside Parliament[edit]

Meacher appeared briefly as himself in the 1985 BBC Television drama serial Edge of Darkness.

In 1988 he lost a libel action against the journalist Alan Watkins, who had written an article in November 1984 which included the remark "Mr Meacher likes to claim that he is the son of an agricultural labourer, though I understand that his father was an accountant who retired to work on the family farm because the life suited him better."

Meacher is a member of the Fabian Society.

He is a member of Political Leaders for 9/11 Truth which petitions the U.S. president for an independent investigation into the September 11 attacks not led by "individuals closely aligned with, or even employed by, the Bush-Cheney administration[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Meacher enters Labour leader race.
  2. ^ http://uk.news.yahoo.com/itn/20070514/tuk-meacher-makes-way-for-mcdonnell-dba1618.html
  3. ^ Michael Meacher: Biography
  4. ^ Forum Brief: Earth Summit
  5. ^ Home, second home, BBC News Online, 6 September 2001.
  6. ^ Meacher attacks 'fantasy' case for war, BBC News Online, 3 July 2003.
  7. ^ "This war on terrorism is bogus", Michael Meacher, 6 September 2003, The Guardian.
  8. ^ "The Pakistan connection", Michael Meacher, 22 July 2004, The Guardian.
  9. ^ "Michael Meacher: A thorn in Blair's side". Daily Mail. February 22, 2007. Retrieved April 30, 2009. 
  10. ^ Has Meacher completely lost the plot?, David Aaronovitch, 9 September 2003, The Guardian.
  11. ^ Peter Barber (June 7, 2008). "The truth is out there". Financial Times. 
  12. ^ Climate Change EDM
  13. ^ michaelmeacher.info
  14. ^ Michael Meacher. "Don't exclude the centre-left: The debate over Labour's new direction must go beyond the Brownite right and the Blairite far-right". epolitix.com. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  15. ^ [Programme for Action over Atos http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2013/03/programme-for-action-over-atos/ Programme for Action over Atos. March 2013]
  16. ^ Huffington Post. 16 March 2013
  17. ^ Meacher denies he has been pressed to stand, The Guardian, 30 October 2006.
  18. ^ This battle over the political crumbs is pathetic, The Observer, 25 February 2007.
  19. ^ Hencke, David (21 April 2007). "Brown shows his hand to stifle challenge from left". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  20. ^ Petition and Members List Political Leaders for 9/11 Truth (27/2/2015 accessed)

External links[edit]

Articles
Videos
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bruce Campbell
Member of Parliament
for Oldham West and Royton
Oldham West (19701997)

1970–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Kenneth Clarke
Line of succession to Fatherhood of the House of Commons
2nd position
Succeeded by
Dennis Skinner
Political offices
Preceded by
Gwyneth Dunwoody
Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Services
1983–1987
Succeeded by
Robin Cook
Preceded by
John Prescott
Shadow Secretary of State for Employment
1987–1989
Succeeded by
Tony Blair
Preceded by
Robin Cook
as Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Services
Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security
1989–1992
Succeeded by
Donald Dewar
Preceded by
Ann Clwyd
Shadow Minister for Overseas Development
1992–1993
Succeeded by
Tom Clarke
Preceded by
Mo Mowlam
Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1993–1994
Succeeded by
Ann Taylor
Shadow Minister for the Citizen's Charter
1993–1994
Preceded by
Frank Dobson
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
1994–1995
Succeeded by
Clare Short
New office Shadow Minister for Environmental Protection
1996–1997
Position abolished
Minister of State for the Environment
1997–2003
Succeeded by
Elliot Morley