Labour Research May 2002



Muck, silk and socialism

Recollections of a left-wing Queen's Council

John Platts-Mills, QC, Paper Publishing, 687 pages, hardback, £28.00

In this book, John Platts-Mills tells the story of his life. It was written just before he died last year.

Born in New Zealand in 1907, he came to England in 1928 and later became a barrister. He joined the Labour Party and, in 1945, was elected Labour MP for Finsbury.

As an MP, he fought continuously for left-wing causes and - in 1948 - was expelled from the party. In 1950, he stood as a "Labour Independent" but was defeated. It was not until 1963 that he was re-admitted into the Labour Party.

He mentions in his book that, early on, he became an individual member of the Labour Research Department. As he recalls: "The LRD had the most skilled and devoted research workers in the Labour movement". One of the reasons for his expulsion from the Labour Party had been that the LRD was, at that time, on the list of the party's "proscribed organisations".

To the end of his life he continued with his political activities. He describes the many law cases in which he was involved, his visits abroad - including to Czechoslovakia, where he was arrested and imprisoned in 1979 for his help in a human rights case.