Farewell to Fields: A Man of Principle; Chief Feature Writer Paddy Shennan and Political Correspondent Ian Hernon Recall the Life of Leading Liverpool Socialist Terry Fields, Who Died at the Weekend

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), June 30, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Farewell to Fields: A Man of Principle; Chief Feature Writer Paddy Shennan and Political Correspondent Ian Hernon Recall the Life of Leading Liverpool Socialist Terry Fields, Who Died at the Weekend


Byline: Chief feature writer Paddy Shennan and political correspondent Ian Hernon

TERRY Fields - family man, former firefighter and true socialist - was one of the last of a dying breed.

Unlike so many politicians, the former Labour MP for Broadgreen put his money where his mouth was - and his liberty on the line.

Mr Fields died aged 71 on Saturday evening at his Netherton home after a short battle with lung cancer.

Elected to parliament in 1983, he was "a worker's MP on a worker's wage" who would rather go to prison than pay Margaret Thatcher's hated and divisive poll tax.

As his deeply saddened friend and former colleague, Tony Mulhearn, says: "Can you imagine any of the present crop being prepared to go to jail for their beliefs?

"Someone actually offered to pay Terry's poll tax for him, but he refused on the grounds that ordinary people who couldn't afford to pay it wouldn't have people pay it for them.

He was an incredibly principled man."

Mr Mulhearn, the former president of the District Labour Party, who was one of the Militant era's 47 rebel Labour councillors surcharged and disqualified from office by the district auditor in 1987, adds: "He was one of the most decent and honest men I have ever met.

"He stuck to his word about taking an average worker's pay, giving the rest of his parliamentary salary to the Labour movement. Terry was an outstanding workers' representative - he made his brave stand against the poll tax and supported the miners, the firefighters, Liverpool city council and the Liverpool 47.

"He was also a humble man. He wasn't interested in being flamboyant, just getting on with the job."

Mr Fields won the now defunct Broadgreen constituency in 1983 against the national trend - it was the only Labour victory in a previously Conservative-held seat in that year's election.

The MP was jailed for 60 days for non-payment of his pounds 373 poll tax bill in July, 1991, He was able to retain his position in the House of Commons, as MPs only automatically lose their seat if they are imprisoned for over a year.

But there was another price to pay for his so-called "Militant tendencies" - he was expelled from the Labour Party in September 1991.

In the 1992 general election, Mr Fields stood as an independent against the official Labour candidate, Jane Kennedy, but lost.

Three years ago, in an ECHO series marking the 20th anniversary of Neil Kinnock's attack on Liverpool council, Terry Fields proved he still hadn't lost what Tony Mulhearn calls his "wonderful deft turn of phrase.

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Farewell to Fields: A Man of Principle; Chief Feature Writer Paddy Shennan and Political Correspondent Ian Hernon Recall the Life of Leading Liverpool Socialist Terry Fields, Who Died at the Weekend
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