Austin Mitchell
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Austin Mitchell came into Parliament too late for his own good. Always interested in politics, he taught it in New Zealand and at Oxford University, and joined the Labour Party in 1956 during the Suez Crisis.

Before politics he followed two careers: First as a University Teacher, then as a television presenter, even more famous than Richard Whiteley. He stood for Labour in Grimsby in the 1979 by-election on the death of Tony Crosland. Austin won by 560 Votes.

This was the prelude to eighteen years in opposition, the most miserable role in British politics, because MPs find it difficult enough to influence their own party, impossible to influence the leadership of the other. Particularly when it`s as headstrong and determined as Margaret Thatcher. Backbenchers heckle a steamroller.

Austin`s career has been unsullied by office but he`s proud to be a devoted servant of Grimsby and an independent-minded Member. By the time Labour came to power in 1997 Austin was a very experienced MP, slightly too old and much too awkward to be a minister, as he`d always wanted. Wrong sex and age to be a "Blair Babe". Too independent to merely parrot the party line and use Parliament as a platform for praising the Government by asking helpful questions. Too much Old Labour to walk the Third Way.

However, he is now magnanimously prepared to offer the PM another opportunity to correct Blair`s biggest mistake of 1997. Austin wasn`t given a job.

Having started out as on the Right of the party as the last surviving Gaitskellite the whole party had moved so far to the Left behind him that he is now, without changing his position, on the extreme Left where he is known as a hard-working MP and a devoted servant of his constituency.

He finds full satisfaction in the traditional role of the backbencher: serving his constituents and Grimsby`s industries - particularly Fishing and development; keeping the executive to account and pursuing his own interests in giving voters and consumers more power, weakening professional monopolies and promoting the Arts and a better life for all.

His successes include abolishing the solicitors` monopoly of conveyancing which reduced the costs of conveyancing; carrying the first motion to televise Parliament, introducing the Bill which led to the removal of lead from paint, getting the Agriculture Committee to carry out a major report on Fishing to set out a plan for development of the industry, and winning (with Dolly Hardie and Humphrey Forrest) first redundancy payments for fishermen and then (along with Shona McIsaac, Alan Johnson, and Joan Humble) compensation for Icelandic trawlermen.