Letter: A tribute from the right

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The Independent Online
Sir: May I add a historical footnote to Andrew Marr's brilliant article on Frank Field ("Take heed of Frank's maverick plan", 20 June)?

In 1969, I was working at the Conservative Research Depart ment. One of my colleagues, the late Rosemary Marten, who was the desk officer responsible for research on social policy, suggested that we meet the people who were running the Child Poverty Action Group. I harrumphed, but went along, expecting to be bored to tears by some bunch of left-wing nutters.

Thus I was fortunate enough to meet Frank Field, and his gifted associate, Ruth Lister. We talked for an hour or two in their rundown office and, later, in a nearby pub. It was perfectly clear from the beginning that we were not going to talk about Rosemary's and my instinctive Toryism, nor Frank's and Ruth's instinctive Socialism. Above all, though, the very practical approach to the relief of poverty of the CPAG made a lasting impression.

Later, a determined attempt was made to persuade the then Conservative Party hierarchy to support CPAG policies. We achieved very little. I later gathered that Frank Field and Ruth Lister had achieved as little with their party. But Frank Field - and Mr Marr's article is testimony to this - went on with the fight, and now seems on the verge of victory. I don't suppose he would much care who implemented his ideas, as long as they were implemented. I, from the Tory right, salute him.

Yours sincerely,

PATRICK COSGRAVE

London, SW4

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