Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Mo Mowlam

Maybe I'll watch this evening's Channel 4 biopic about Mo

For a long while we lived in Mo's Redcar constituency. Even had we not been active politically, we would have got to know and like her, because my in-laws were lifetime Labour Party loyalists, and - though they came late to Redcar and were never really part of the political scene there - Mo had a lot of time for them personally, and often visited, sometimes with her Mum in tow.

We first met Mo, though, on one of Greenpeace's annual 'Whale Walks' - a fundraising ramble that took us (with Mo quite inappropriately dressed because she was going on to some party committee meeting) slipping and sliding up the steep flanks of Eston Nab to the magnificent viewpoint at the top, with its vista of Tees Bay and the vast industrial complexes on its shores, countered by the view south to Rosebery Topping and the North Yorkshire Moors.

Later, we'd meet Mo 'on business' from time to time about local campaign issues, and she'd always be ready to give considered advice about how best to take things forward, while still shrewd enough not to make too many commitments herself!

She lived in an unassuming terrace house at the steelworks end of the seafront - it was probably visible in the wartime Dunquerque scenes in Atonement. That's where we first saw routinely armed police in Redcar, thanks to her status as Northern Ireland Minister. Their protection was withdrawn not long after she was removed from that job, although she was still clearly a terrorist target, and it was generally thought that Tony Blair was behind the move. After all, at Conference her ovation had been bigger than his ovation.

The seafront house was also where we went to one of Mo's parties, mostly with local Labour Party members; one of them was quite shocked to see us there and whispered a warning to Mo that she had Green Party people in the house! Party politics, eh?

With Mo, what you saw was what you got. Her style was fresh, unstuffy, informal, good-humoured. When my father in law, by then widowed, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and confined to bed, Mo would still call in, unsolicited, from time to time to spend half an hour with him. A spontaneous personal call by a Cabinet Minister (and a really nice one at that, which must narrow the field a bit). He loved it!

On balance I don't think I'll watch the biopic - Julie Walters notwithstanding.

No comments: