Drawings by John Moss
Politicians, Law & Social
Cyril Smith MP MBE
Born in Todmorden on the Lancashire border with Yorkshire
into a family of Quakers, John Fielden was a leading light in
the reform of conditions of child labour in the mid-19th century.
As a child he had worked a 10 hour day in one of his own father's
cotton mills, and served his apprenticeship as a young man before
taking over the business. With the help of his brothers, he
turned it into one of the biggest textile companies in Britain.
From the outset, it was clear that Fielden had a great social
conscience, and he insisted on experiencing shopfloor working
conditions for himself, was an advocate of workers' unions and
set a decent minimum wage for his workers (for that time). He
founded the Todmorden Unitarian Society, which was devoted to
social reforms - he also financed the building of the Unitarian
Chapel, the building of the Unitarian School and the setup of
the Society for the Protection of Children Employed in Cotton
In 1831 he became Member of Parliament for Oldham and was proactive
in the promotion of children's working rights and in the Reform
Movement. He campaigned for shorter working days for children,
and succeeded in getting it limited to 10 hours a day by the
passing of the Ten Hours Act passed by Parliament in 1847. He
died within 2 years and is buried in Todmorden cemetery.
Now a Labour Party backbench Member of Parliament, renowned
for his outspoken and frequently passionate manner, Gerald Kaufman
is a well known MP for the Gorton Constituency in east Manchester.
He was for a time the chairman of the culture media and sports
select committee, a post he has occupied since 1997, but would
have been foreign secretary to a Labour Government under Neil
Kinnock's premiership, but it was not to be, and when Kinnock's
fortunes waned so did those of Kaufman. He had been shadow foreign
secretary between 1987-1992.
Before becoming an MP in 1983, he worked as a journalist on
left-wing papers, as well as a comedy scriptwriter. He has also
written several books. Kaufman was a regular topic of media
interest, a notoriously snappy dresser, renowned for his shirts
has, in his time, held many lofty and high profile posts in
government and opposition including the following:
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment
Parliamentary Under-secretary, Department of Industry
1975-79: Minister of State, Department of Industry
1980-83: Shadow Environment Secretary
1983-87: Shadow Home Secretary 1987-92 Shadow Foreign Secretary
of the British Fascist Party
Mosley, founder and leader of the British Fascist Party in the
1930s, was born on November 16th 1896 and was educated at Winchester
College. His family was an old established Manchester family,
and Mosley himself was the Sixth Baronet. Mosley Street in Manchester
bears his family name. The young Oswald entered the Royal Military
College at Sandhurst and in 1914 joined the 16th (the Queens)
Lancers before going on to the Royal Flying Corps as an Observer.
He was later discharged due to leg injuries sustained in a plane
crash and by the end of the War was working in the Foreign Office.
He became a Conservative MP for the Harrow' constituency in
1918, the youngest MP in the House of Commons. In 1924 disenchanted
with government policies, he joined the Labour and was made
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1928. His political
career seemed guaranteed, and had it not been for his extreme
right wing political ideologies, he would no doubt have risen
to higher and more distinguished office. In this time of depression
and widespread unemployment, he became gradually interested
in the economic policies of the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini,
and in 1932 published his first book, "The Greater Britain",
in which he set out his grand plan for the economic, social
and political reconstruction of Britain. He actually paid visits
to both Mussolini and the German dictator, Adolph Hitler. Hitler
in fact was Mosley's best man at his second marriage in Goebbel's
house in Berlin.
On Saturday October 1st 1932 he founded the British Union of
Fascists to implement his policies. His early meetings were
held at Hyndman Hall in Liverpool Street, Salford. During the
1930s his policies were increasingly controversial - his outspoken
oratory and his militaristic street parades and rallies of black-shirted
neo-Nazis, reminiscent of those taking place in Nuremberg in
Germany, were frequently accompanied by unrest and violence.
Several rallies were held at Queen's Park in Harpurhey. In 1933
one of his meeting at the Free Trade Hall was the scene of rioting,
and police had to be called to separate various factions. Apart
from a faithful minority following he failed to grab the imagination
or sympathies of the people.
In 1938 he published "Tomorrow We Live" as well as a
large number of leaflets, booklets and two regular weekly newspapers
"The Blackshirt" and "Action". His views were
vehemently pro-British, intensely xenophobic and overt in their
The Second World War and the ensuing collapse of fascism in
Europe effectively brought an end to Mosley's career as a politician,
and an effective end to the party's popularity in the western
world. He died at home in bed in 1980 aged 84.
Jack Straw was born in 1946 and educated at Brentwood School
in Essex. Later, at Leeds University, he was President of the
University Students' Union from 1967-1968 and of the National
Union of Students from 1969-1971. A leading player in UK politics,
from 1971 to 1974 he was a member of the Inner London Education
Authority as well as being Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
from 1973 to 1974. He had been called to the Bar (Inner Temple)
in 1972, and worked as a barrister from 1972-1974; he was special
adviser to Barbara Castle from 1974-1975 and to Peter Shore
from 1976-1977. He also worked for Granada Television's "World
in Action" programme from 1977-1979.
Jack Straw was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and
Commonwealth Affairs on the 8th June 2001, having been the Member
of Parliament for Blackburn since 1979. He had already been
Home Secretary in Tony Blair's new Labour Government from 1997-2001,
having previously been Shadow Home Secretary while in opposition
from 1995 to 1997. He had by then already held a variety of
high offices in opposition and was a leading member of the Blair's
"New Labour" Party, including Shadow Environment Secretary from
1992-1994, Shadow Education Secretary between 1987 and 1992,
Opposition Spokesman on Local Government from 1983-1987, and
from 1980-1983 on Treasury matters. He was a member of the Labour
Party National Executive Committee from 1994-1995.
He is a visiting Fellow of Nuffield College Oxford and a Fellow
of the Royal Statistical Society. He is married with a son and
a daughter. He is an active supporter of Blackburn Rovers Football
Club. Under Prime Minister Gordon Brown's premiership in 2007,
Jack Straw became Minister for Justice.
Castle of Blackburn
Born Barbara Anne Betts in Bradford, Yorkshire on 6th October
1910, Barbara Castle was described by ex-Labour Party Leader
Michael Foot as 'the best Socialist minister we've ever had'
and was probably best known as the outspoken campaigning Member
of Parliament for Blackburn in Lancashire for 35 years. As a
young woman she is reputed to have lived for a time in Hyde,
(then in Cheshire, now part of Tameside in Greater Manchester).
Her mother had been a local Labour Councillor and her father
was a tax inspector and political activist. A bright girl, she
attended Bradford Girls' Grammar School, and later took a degree
at Oxford. Later, she determined to be a journalist and a politician,
but the Depression forced her temporarily to seek work selling
fruit in a Manchester store. At Oxford she had also met Michael
Foot with whom she spent many hours discussing social politics
at his flat in Bloomsbury - they denied allegations and rumours
of an affair.
However, in 1937, they helped launch the "Tribune", which
set out to reform the Labour Party as a truly socialist party
and in 1944 she won election to the Blackburn constituency which
she represented until her retirement in 1979. A clever and single-minded
author of some of the best political diaries of her time, she
had begun her campaigning against Fascism in pre-World War Two
days and rose to be a minister in Harold Wilson's government
in the 1960s and 70s. Wilson appointed her to his first cabinet
at the Department of Overseas Development, in which she was
to become possibly the most effective Cabinet Minister of her
generation, despite having no previous ministerial experience.
Wilson promoted her to the Department of Transport and in two
and a half years she transformed the department and oversaw
the introduction of the breathalyser and the seatbelt.
Later he promoted her again to First Secretary in the new Department
of Employment and Productivity in an attempt to bring order
to the poor state of industrial relations. "In Place of Strife"
was the white paper which she produced in an attempt to bridge
the chasm which existed between employers and workers, but this
proved disastrous and was roundly rejected. Despite its many
worthy proposals she was forced to accept a shortened bill which
was only to enforce the more penal clauses and industrial discord
was even more deepened. The episode also accelerated alienation
between party activists and the leadership, and although well
liked and respected by parliamentary backbenchers, she was nevertheless
a controversial figure and was fired by Labour Prime Minister,
Ultimately she left many worthy monuments to her governmental
efforts, not least of which was Equal Pay for Women. After retirement
from Westminster in 1979, she became the leader of the Labour
group in the European parliament for ten years. Later, party
leader Neil Kinnock recommended her to the House of Lords and
she was created a Baroness. She and her husband Ted, (who had
died in 1979), had no children. Barbara Castle, by then Baroness
Castle of Blackburn, died on the 3rd of May 2001.