Terry Fields

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For the American politician, see Terry Fields (American politician).
Terry Fields
Member of Parliament
for Liverpool Broadgreen
In office
9 June 1983 – 9 April 1992
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by Jane Kennedy
Personal details
Born (1937-03-08)8 March 1937
Bootle, Lancashire
Died 28 June 2008(2008-06-28) (aged 71)
Netherton, Merseyside
Nationality British
Political party Labour

Terence Fields (8 March 1937 – 28 June 2008), a supporter of the Militant tendency, was Labour Member of Parliament for Liverpool Broadgreen for nine years. Earlier he had been on the Executive of the Fire Brigades Union.

Early life and activism[edit]

Fields was born in Bootle, north of Liverpool, the son of a dockworker.[1] Educated at the Major Street County Secondary School and at De La Salle Grammar School in Liverpool, Fields then spent two years on National Service in the Royal Army Medical Corps,[2] an experience that he later claimed had radicalised him.[1] Despite eye problems (the reason why he wore dark glasses),[1] he became a fireman and later a Fire Brigades Union activist.[3]

Fields joined the Labour Party in 1968.[2]Fields was active in the Fire Brigades Union's national strike in 1977-78[4] and shortly afterwards he joined the Militant tendency,[4] At the party's special conference in 1980 on the question of how to elect the Labour leader Fields spoke before Denis Healey and said: "We need coordinated action by the whole of our class to get the Tories out, and the democracy that is being pumped out in the capitalist press is their democracy, not ours. We will found a new democracy when we have created a socialist state in this country. ... To the weak-hearted, the traitors and cowards I say: 'Get out of our movement. There is no place for you. Cross the House of Commons.'"[5]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Fields was selected as the Labour Party candidate for Liverpool Broadgreen for the general election in 1983 and became the only Labour MP that year to have defeated a sitting Conservative.[1][6] In line with the policy of the Militant tendency, He promised during his campaign that, if he won, he would be "a workers' MP on a worker's wage," a promise he kept by drawing only the equivalent of a fireman's wages and donating the balance of his MP's salary to trade union causes and, according to Doris Heffer, "to the party causes or, frankly, also to the coffers of Militant Tendency."[1] Fields gained the friendship of other Labour MPs, including Doris Heffer's husband, Eric.[1]

Fields made his maiden speech on 24 June 1983.[7] His interventions in Parliament focused on issues unique to Liverpool as well as Central America, unemployment, and the coalmining and maritime transport industries.[8]

On 11 July 1991 Fields was jailed for refusing to pay his poll tax bill of 373 pounds. Neil Kinnock defended the decision of the court, stating: "Law makers must not be law breakers. I have always made that clear."[9] Fields's sentence was for 60 days, meaning that he retained his seat in the House of Commons, as MPs automatically lose their seat if they are imprisoned for more than a year. Fields was criticised by members of the Labour Party for his militant approach to the poll tax and his failure to support other Labour candidates, in particular Peter Kilfoyle in a by-election for the neighbouring constituency of Liverpool Walton,[9] following the death of Eric Heffer.

Fields was expelled from the Labour Party in December 1991[9] along with other members of Militant, including Dave Nellist, then the only other MP who was a member of the tendency.

Later life[edit]

In the general election of 1992 Fields stood as an independent against the Labour candidate, Jane Kennedy, but was defeated, having won only 14 per cent of the votes cast. After losing his seat Fields ran The Mayflower, a pub on Fazakerley Street in Liverpool, for six months.[6][2] He did not join the Socialist Party, into which Militant eventually developed.[5]

In 2002, at the age of 65, he returned briefly to the limelight after entering a burning house to rescue a woman trapped inside. He commented: "I suppose the old instincts just took over."

Fields died at his family home in Netherton on Saturday 28 June 2008, of lung cancer. Bob Wareing, a Liverpool Labour MP for 25 years, said at the time: "Even though we might disagree on the methods used by Militant Tendency, we in Liverpool could not but respect the sincerity and principled behaviour of Terry Fields."[1] A memorial meeting for Fields, held shortly after his death, attracted 200 people.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Tam Dalyell "Terry Fields: Labour MP from the Militant Tendency Who Was Jailed for 60 Days for Refusing to Pay the Poll Tax", The Independent, 2 July 2008
  2. ^ a b c Obituary: Terry Fields, telegraph.co.uk, 1 July 2008
  3. ^ Rob Sewell, "Terry Fields, Militant MP Dies – The Workers' MP on a Workers' Wage", In Defence of Marxism Website, 30 June 2008.
  4. ^ a b Terry Venton, "Obituary: Terry Fields", Scottish Socialist Website
  5. ^ a b Francis Beckett "Obituary: Terry Fields", The Guardian, 1 July 2008
  6. ^ a b Paddy Shennon & Ian Hernon, "Farewell to Terry Fields: A Man of Principle", Liverpool Echo, 30 June 2008.
  7. ^ Mr Terry Fields (Liverpool, Broadgreen), "Orders of the Day: Industry and Privatisation", Hansard, 24 June 1983
  8. ^ Mr Terry Fields, Hansard Online Index
  9. ^ a b c "1991: Anti-Poll Tax MP Jailed", BBC On this Day, 11 July
  10. ^ Paillard, C. "Terry Fields Memorial Meeting", The Socialist, 3 September 2008. (retrieved 25 June 2010)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Liverpool Broadgreen
19831992
Succeeded by
Jane Kennedy