Frank Marsden

Popular Liverpool MP


Frank Marsden, politician: born Liverpool 15 October 1923; MP (Labour) for Liverpool Scotland 1971-74; married 1943 Muriel Lightfoot (three sons); died Liverpool 5 November 2006.

Unusual though it was, Walter Alldritt, the very capable MP for the Scotland division of Liverpool, opted in early 1971 to resign his seat to transfer to what he thought was the better job of regional secretary of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers.

This was partly because of the furious internecine politics of the Labour Party at the time. Alldritt had had a majority of 11,074 over his Conservative opponent, who received 3,140 votes in the general election of 1970. But Labour was faced with what we thought was a difficult by-election in a rundown inner-city seat. The party persuaded - I think that is the right word - a good local councillor, Frank Marsden, to be the standard-bearer who would garner votes from a sullen electorate, disappointed in what Harold Wilson's government had, in their opinion, failed to do for his own city of Liverpool.

It was April Fools' Day. I remember it as a dismal by-election. To start with, my friend the former Labour MP for Preston Peter Mahon was standing as an Anti-Abortion Labour candidate. In the event Labour's face was saved by the personal popularity of Marsden, who had many friends and scraped a winning 6,795 votes to the 1,751 accorded to the Conservative candidate, Barry Porter. (Mahon managed 981.) Marsden remained cheerful in the face of many jibes and gained the admiration of the visiting speakers and canvassers who had come to his aid when most of the Liverpool party were sitting on their hands in protest against politicians in general.

Frank Marsden was scouse born and bred and went to Abbotsford Road Secondary Modern School. He was to be an ardent supporter of Tony Crosland's then controversial policy of introducing comprehensive schools. To the end he was proud of being an old-fashioned socialist.

Volunteering for the RAF as an 18-year-old, he served in the Second World War mostly in 115 Squadron, rising to warrant officer. With a chuckle, he told us that, when he was involved as a Liverpool councillor with arrangements for twinning with a German city, the burgomaster asked him: "Herr Marsden, have you ever been to Germany before?" Marsden regurgitated his reply: "Ja, Herr Bürgermeister, I have indeed been to Germany before."

"Where," asked the burgomaster, "and when?"

"Well actually," replied Marsden, "it was as a tail gunner keeping a watchful eye for any planes from the Luftwaffe likely to attack my Wellington bomber - which was dropping its load on Schweinfurt, your ball-bearings factory."

Marsden reflected that in no way did this hinder the development of good twinning relations, not least because the burgomaster confessed that as a young lad he had been involved in the "Baedeker bombing" of Exeter. As one who had known war and its real dangers Marsden showed a real interest in the Services.

On demobilisation he worked for Fitzpatricks, the wholesale Liverpool flower merchants, then as a crane driver in the docks and finally as a telephonist for the GPO (a job to which he returned after Parliament). He became a local councillor for the Liverpool St Domingo ward in 1964. Losing his seat in the 1967 local elections that were disastrous for Labour, he was re-elected for Liverpool Vauxhall, where he served as a councillor from 1969 until he was chosen as parliamentary candidate. One of his most fulfilling roles was as chairman of the Liverpool Markets between 1965 and 1967.

In February 1974 his inner-city, almost pocket, borough seat was changed by the Boundary Commission and Bob Parry, one of a powerful Liverpool tribe, was elected for the new seat of Liverpool Scotland Exchange, gaining 15,295 votes. In 1983 I was the guest of that constituency party and Marsden came, partly out of loyalty to me as one of his old friends. He confided that he took less interest in politics and was not unhappy that his parliamentary career ended as it did.

His contemporaries in the House of Commons will remember him less for his speeches than for his great knowledge of jazz and good companionship. My abiding memory of Marsden and his wife is that they used to bring into the Palace of Westminster an enormous "Dulux dog", an Old English Sheepdog - a fearsome beast, but absolutely obedient to them.

Tam Dalyell

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
News
peopleWarning - contains a lot of swearing
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Recruitment Genius: Appointment Maker / Telesales

£15000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading supplie...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Field Sales Executive - Dereham

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is proud to b...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project