Atkinson was a councillor on Manchester City Council 1945-49. He contested Manchester Wythenshawe in 1955 and Altrincham and Sale in 1959, before being elected for Tottenham in the 1964 general election.
A member of Labour's National Executive Committee for five years, Atkinson also served as the party's national treasurer from 1976 to 1981. As treasurer, he clashed with Chancellor Denis Healey at the 1976 Labour Party Conference. He was a founding member of the Socialist Campaign Group.
He did not contest the 1987 general election, having been deselected by his constituency party (subsequent to boundary changes in 1983 which added roughly half of the old Wood Green constituency) in favour of Bernie Grant.
After he ceased being an MP, Atkinson authored a book on Sir Joseph Whitworth (The World’s Best Mechanician, 1996) and a play (Old Merrypebbles).
- "Norman Atkinson". Telegraph. London. 8 Jul 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- Aitken, Ian (19 September 2002). "Bulldozer Healey tramples on Left". The Guardian. London.
- "Bernie Grant: A controversial figure". BBC News. 8 April 2000.
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