Michael Meacher

The Right Honourable
Michael Meacher
Meacher at a rally outside the American Embassy, 9 December 2005.
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
Member of Parliament
for Oldham West and Royton
Oldham West (1970–1997)
Assumed office
18 June 1970
Preceded by Keith Bruce Campbell
Majority 9,352 (21.8%)
Personal details
Born 4 November 1939 (1939-11-04) (age 72)
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England
Political party Labour
Alma mater New College, Oxford
London School of Economics
Website www.michaelmeacher.info

Michael Hugh Meacher (born 4 November 1939) is a British Labour politician, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Oldham West and Royton since 1997. Previously he had been the MP for Oldham West, first elected in 1970. 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]



Born in Hemel Hempstead, the son of an accountant and farmer, 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 UK 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

Junior minister

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

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 minsters 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 one home themselves.[5]

Political activities after 2003

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."[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[12] on climate change to parliament, which calls upon the government to commit to yearly CO2 emission reductions of 3%.

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, Michael 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]

Leadership bid

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.[15][16]

On 21 April 2007, The Guardian claimed that Meacher had the support of no more than 3 MPs and that his campaign was "virtually dead in the water".[17]

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

  • 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."


  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, Thursday, 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, Saturday 6 September 2003, The Guardian
  8. ^ "The Pakistan connection", Michael Meacher, Thursday 22 July 2004, The Guardian
  9. ^ "Michael Meacher: A thorn in Blair's side". Daily Mail. February 22, 2007. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-437828/Michael-Meacher-A-thorn-Blairs-side.html. Retrieved April 30, 2009. 
  10. ^ Has Meacher completely lost the plot?, David Aaronovitch, Tuesday 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. http://www.epolitix.com/mpwebsites/mppressreleases/mppressreleasedetails/newsarticle/dont-exclude-the-centre-left-the-debate-over-labours-new-direction-must-go-beyond-the-brownite-ri///mpsite/michael-meacher/. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  15. ^ Meacher denies he has been pressed to stand, The Guardian, 30 October 2006
  16. ^ This battle over the political crumbs is pathetic, The Observer, 25 February 2007
  17. ^ Hencke, David (21 April 2007). "Brown shows his hand to stifle challenge from left". The Guardian (London). http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labour/story/0,,2062310,00.html. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 

External links

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

Political offices
New creation Minister of State for the Environment
Succeeded by
Elliot Morley

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