Derek Hatton re-joins Labour Party 29 years after expulsion

Rob McLoughlin, presenter of ITV Granada's Party People, with Derek Hatton

He was once dubbed a 'firebrand', was a member of the far-left Militant organisation and was one of Labour's most controversial figures in the 1980s.

Now, 29 years after he was expelled, the former Deputy Leader of Liverpool City Council, Derek Hatton, is returning to the Labour Party.

In an exclusive interview at the People's History Museum with ITV Granada's political programme Party People, 67-year-old Hatton revealed he re-joined the party on the 9th of May, two days after it suffered one of its worst ever electoral defeats, to 'have one more go at having a say in the way the Labour Party is going'.

He told Party People Presenter Rob McLoughlin:

‘I just felt that I should do something. I think for too long now the Labour Party has drifted and drifted and drifted. There has now become no difference between the parties. It was the same type of Oxford/Eton person going forward. People now need to see there is a clear choice when they go into the voting booth.'

Derek Hatton

To some it will be a surprise to see Hatton re-admitted to the Labour Party, given the list of controversies which followed him in his political career and the way his relationship with the party broke down back in 1985.

He was at the centre of one of the great political storms of Thatcher's Britain when Liverpool Council refused to comply with the Conservative government's mandate to limit local council spending.

Hatton and the left-wing Labour Council refused to set a legal budget for the 1985/86 year, putting council jobs at risk and causing a financial crisis in the city.

Their rebellion was eventually defeated and at the Labour Party conference Neil Kinnock denounced the 'grotesque chaos' of Hatton and the Liverpool City Council before the National Executive Committee suspended the Liverpool district Labour Party and ordered an investigation.

The result was the expulsion of all Militant Tendency members from Labour.

Derek Hatton on Labour's future

Despite this, when pressed on whether he was surprised to be re-admitted Hatton replied:

‘I don't think I ever thought about that. It's 29 years since all that happened and I didn't for one second think that anyone was going to have an issue with it now because the world is a different place,the Labour party is a different place, Derek Hatton is a different person and I didn't for one second think that was going to be the issue’.

Derek Hatton

Derek Hatton on the Labour leadership

Mr Hatton refused to endorse a candidate for the Labour leadership but called for a change in direction for the new leader:

‘Do I want it to go like it was in the 80's? No. Because the world is a different place and there is no Militant Tendencies, nothing like that, and so you can't compare that. What we are talking about is probably a new type of Labour but based on certain fundamental principles that have always been there. First of all the link with the trade unions can't be reduced. It has to be enhanced but that requires a movement on behalf of the trade unions as well’.

Derek Hatton

Derek Hatton on himself

Hatton, whose actions in fighting the Thatcher Government were condemned from the rostrum by Neil Kinnock during The Labour Party Conference in 1985, 12 months before he was expelled, discussed his own political record and the reasons why he feels Ed Miliband failed to win over the electorate.

Asked about his life today as a businessman he said:

‘I have done a whole number of things since that time. I have done radio shows, run a couple of businesses, loads of things, and now I employ people. But I will never employ anyone on less than the living wage so there are certain principles you have whatever you are in. And I have violent arguments with people I know who still use zero-hour contracts. So there are principles that you never lose’.

Derek Hatton

It's clear the old spark of political certainty hasn't blown out. When Rob McLoughlin asked was the Derek Hatton of the 1980s wrong or is the Derek Hatton of 2015 wrong now, he replied:

I think the Derek Hatton of the 80s was dead right. I think the Derek Hatton of 2015 is dead right too.

Derek Hatton