Whatever happened to Derek Hatton?

Mike Higgins
Friday 30 May 1997 23:02
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The Icepick

On 12 June 1986, Derek Hatton, deputy leader of Labour-run Liverpool Council since 1983, was found guilty of membership of the secretive Trotskyite organisation Militant and was expelled from the Labour Party. Hatton's political demise was the conclusion of a bitter feud between him and Neil Kinnock, which had culminated dramatically in the party leader's very public condemnation of Hatton at the Labour Party Conference the year before. Hatton had arranged to have 31,000 redundancy notices delivered to council employees by taxi.

The Glorious Revolution

Revising "Old Labour" beliefs in "tax and spend" to "spend and spend", the rabble-rousing councillor seized the Thatcherite credit ethic in the name of the Left and, according to him, pulled down 4,000 decaying properties, and built 4,000 homes and six sports centres. Though some Scousers accorded the mercurial Everton fan semi-deified status, most of the media portrayed him as second only to Arthur Scargill as a notorious revolutionary, allegedly employing bully-boy tactics in getting his way on the Council.

Paradoxical Materialism

Ditching politics in the late Eighties, Hatton embraced the era of conspicuous consumption, socializing furiously and setting up a PR firm. TV presenting followed, with panto and a role in a watch ad. Ever the Marxist, Degsie based his philosophical about-turn on Karl's belief that a person's "social existence... determines their consciousness". The Nineties brought two high- profile court cases. He was acquitted for his alleged part in a corrupt property deal and a supposed insurance fraud, but not before he voiced his belief that he was being victimized by the Establishment for his years in Militant.

A Future in the Red?

Not likely. Besides running his "public affairs consultancy", Degsie recounts his battles with Thatcher and Kinnock in after-dinner speeches. Commenting on Tony Blair, Hatton quipped that "he's not half as smart looking as I was". Pondering his own political future, he has not discounted a role as elected mayor, should the concept take off. "I've been mentioned," he mused. "I've never lost an election in Liverpool..."

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