Saturday, 20 July 2013

John Howarth

I just thought I'd reproduce below, with a little light fisking of my own in my usual red, something from the Barely Literate Geordie Loser's website (how quaint of him to have one! Especially with no YouTube or, you know, anything!). He wants to be an MEP in the South-East of England. He's not from there, ran away from a contest whenever he held elected office (Redlands ward for Berkshire County Council and Park ward for Reading Borough Council) was misguided enough to allow himself to be written into history as the architect of the disastrous one-way IDR plan for Reading, was part of the corrupt deal on the Reading mosque, and refused to face his Park ward constituents on that issue, was instrumental in the election of a Conservative MP in Reading East in 2005 - and presents himself as a campaigner for Labour? Labour? 

Labour Party

One of many campaign launches, this one with Labour on a roll in 1996.
They're in Reading East. But Martin Salter is the candidate for Reading West. Read a map, John.


  • 1974 February: joined aged 15
  • 1977 Essex University Labour Club
  • 1979 Intern/Campaign Aid, Harry Cowans MP
  • 1979 Worked in first European Elections
  • 1980 Colchester GC (Party Branch Delegate)
  • 1981 Labour Students National Secretary
  • 1982 Labour Full Time Organiser (Basingstoke)
  • 1983 General/Local Election Agent
  • 1984 Secretary, Hampshire County Labour Party
  • 1985 European Election Agent
  • 1985-89 South East Regional Organiser
  • 1990-95 Chair, Reading (East/West) Labour Part
  • 1993-95 Vice Chair, Berkshire County LP
  • 1995-2003 Press Officer, Reading Labour Party
  • 1990-2012 TGWU/Unite EC Member, Reading

1974 February: joined aged 15

My Dad was on strike – he didn’t want to be but he was loyal to the NUM. Ted Heath called an election and it seemed like a good idea to get rid of him, so when I was asked to help I did. Labour won, sort of. Ironically  Who are we, Alanis Morissette? Nothing ironic going on here the first candidate I worked for was John Horam – then Labour MP for Gateshead West who subsequently defected to the SDP and finally to the Tories. In October I wangled time off school to work in the second election telling them it would help my Social Studies project. They agreed. The buses were on strike. I had to walk six miles to hear Harold Wilson speak at the People’s Theatre in Jesmond, then six miles home again! The PA was dreadful – much of what Harold said was inaudible, but he was a great platform entertainer.

1977 Essex University Labour Club

When I went to University I though You mean "I thought", I fancy. In the European Parliament you will find the need to pay attention to the accuracy of text matters. I was quite left wing. By Essex standards I clearly wasn’t. For one thing I was already a member of the Labour Party and rather unfashionably I believed that winning elections mattered rather a lot. It was all quite mad, but I met some great people many and I learned a lot.

1979 Intern/Campaign Aid, Harry Cowans MP

My first by-election had been in Newcastle Central in  1976. Harry Cowans, a Gateshead councillor and agent in Gateshead West, held the seat comfortably on the night Labour lost its overall majority. The Liberals did well. They produced scrappy leaflets talking about pavements and grass verges. We talked BIG politics. An early lesson I’ve never forgotten.

1979 Worked in first European Elections

I got a leaflet through my door that explained the Parliament which till then had been appointed nationally. What a great idea for a continent with a history of war to elect a multi-national assembly! I think I might have been the only person You weren't. Plenty of people wanted a result from that election for Labour, and worked for it. John Howarth, Dissing his colleagues for decades. who really wanted to work in that election only months after we had lost the General Election. Labour was hammered, but we elected Joyce Quin in Tyne and Wear who was a credit to the job and became MP for Gateshead West in 1987.

1980 Colchester GC (Party Branch Delegate)

Labour was fractious and bitterly divided. I was in the branch where Bob Russell, the candidate at the ’79 election, was a Labour councillor (Central). It was an interesting experience. Looking back it told me everything I needed to know about why we would be in opposition for the next 17 years. Bob Russell has been Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester since 1997.

1981 Labour Students National Secretary

When I became involved Labour played a secondary role in student politics. Most student leaders were elected on ‘broad left’ tickets. The time had come for this to change. In 1981 we elected the first NUS president on a Labour Students platform, Neil Stewart. I ran the communications for the campaign and I changed the ‘brand’ from NOLS (what exactly is a ‘nol’) to Labour Students. That one got me started and I’ve been doing communications and brand ever since.

1982 Labour Full Time Organiser (Basingstoke)
1983 General/Local Election Agent
1984 Secretary, Hampshire County Labour Party
1985 European Election Agent

I took a job working as a Labour constituency organiser in a part of the world with which I was unfamiliar but quickly learned was typical of the social and economic trends that helped keep the Conservatives in power through the 1980s. We did reasonably well in local elections, established some good community campaigning roots that hold to this day. Expanding towns like Basingstoke are good barometers of British politics – in 2001 Labour nearly won the seat.  But didn't, because the Labour candidate, the overweight and lazy Jon Hartley, did very little work, managed to get fined for not taxing his car at the same time, and because Martin Salter put his name to a defamatory leaflet, written by John Howarth, which brought out loyal Tories. Who voted. Great success. Not. Maria Miller MP. John Howarth's part in her victory.

1985-89 South East Regional Organiser

Actually, back then the South East region was the Southern Region. I had visited every constituency long before I put myself forward for this campaign. The role of organiser has changed radically – it needed to – and I was perhaps able to influence that change a little, though it didn’t make me popular at the time.  Many of the battles in the South East were similar to those the Party faces today. We were rebuilding after a serious defeat. We had to ensure that the Party had life and relevance, not just in its UK Parliamentary targets, but throughout the Region. It was all very well asking members in rural villages to decamp to the nearest marginal, but I’ve always remembered a member in Hampshire saying to me, “Of course we’ll drive to Southampton at the election, but I need my politics to matter to me here, where I live my life”. He was right – engaging in local communities is what makes Labour relevant.   

1990-95 Chair, Reading (East/West) Labour Party
1993-95 Vice Chair, Berkshire County LP

While I was an South East Region official (in 1995) that would be 1985 I imagine. Who proofreads this stuff?
I  haired the  first meeting of Reading Labour Party combining the Reading East and Reading West constituencies. It was a great honour four years later in 2001? I think not to be elected Chair. Going to vote for this man who can't tell the truth? *8During my time as Chair we were one of the first parties in the UK to formalise a campaign focused group, which we had been operating informally, into our rulebook. The Campaign Unit was the focus of Reading’s election success, providing the right forum to develop organisation, disseminate tactics and focus resources. Later it became the adopted model of the Party nationally. I was also able to set up policy structures that gave the Labour Group and the Party practical ways of working together. Local success was built both on or strong organisation and getting the local politics right. One without the other will never last.  

1995-2003 Press Officer, Reading Labour Party
2003-2007 and 2010-2012, Publicity Co-ordinator, Reading Labour Party

In Reading the Chair and Press Officer ran the Party’s media output. So in one role or another I was involved in the strategic messages for more than two decades. Working closely with Martin Salter was a privilege and a challenge. Martin’s work rate is legendary and we are the sort of personalities that drive each other on. Nobody ever really knew who exactly had written what; we were a team. The template for campaign from imcumbancy and from power in local Government developed in Reading we were able to export to many parties and MPs elsewhere. 

So the victory of Labour in Reading East and the re-election of the Labour MP in 2001 with an increased majority had nothing to do with you then John? If it had you would surely have mentioned it. Hmmm?
1990-2012 TGWU/Unite EC Member, Reading
I have always been a member of the T&GWU. It was my affiliated union when I went to work full time. My parents and grandparents had been loyal members of their unions in the mining industry and I was brought up to understand the importance of working people being organised for all sort of reasons. Find out more about my work with the Trades Unions here.
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Anonymous said...

Extremely well fisked and I was inspired to do a re-fisk and discovered two extra spelling mistakes.

Actually, Maria Miller is rather a good thing - right on Maria for standing up to Inverdale over his grotesque comments about the awesome Marion Bartolli. MB is a most fitting custodian of the Venus Rosewater trophy - unlike Lisicki, plaits and hairslides and all. So -- in promoting the ludicrous Fatboy Hartley, Howarth has done the nation a service, in securing the election of a Minister for Women who will support Bartolli against Inverdale!! And, in fact, no doubt he has thus done wonders wonders for the Entente Cordiale -- but the LABOUR PARTY? NO! -- or should say , no matter! That party, if it EVER existed post 2007is dead in the water today. Quack.

Anonymous said...

So, has he ever had a job? A real, productive job I mean. Not one paid for by union workers, labour party supporters, or tax payers.