Posts Tagged ‘Harry Harpham’

Brightside and Hillsborough race hots up, amid charges of early campaigning

24/02/2016, 03:04:04 PM

The race to succeed the late Harry Harpham as MP for Brightside and Hillsborough has begun in earnest.

His widow, Gill Furniss, herself a respected local councillor in the constituency, has confirmed she is seeking the nomination and has already secured the support of a number of local councillors and officials.

She is also backed by Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield’s cabinet member for children’s services and the runner-up to Harpham in the previous selection contest.

Other declared contenders include former Hallam parliamentary candidate, Oliver Coppard and former aid worker, Mike Buckley, who came third in the race to succeed David Blunkett for the seat back in 2014.

Given Harpham’s near impregnable 13,807 majority last May, there are no shortage of other aspirant hat-tossers.

These include Chesterfield councillor and A&E doctor, Stephen Hitchen and former teenage parliamentary candidate, Solomon Curtis, who stood for Labour in the East Sussex Tory stronghold of Wealdon at the last general election.

However, there have been serious allegations that at least one hopeful was campaigning for the nomination while Harpham was still battling cancer. Even in the torrid world of Labour selections this is a new low.

Uncut also understands there are complaints about a Young Labour nomination for Coppard which has been referred to the party’s Yorkshire and Humber regional office. No vote of actual young members appears to have been taken.

Although a classic ‘safe’ Labour seat, UKIP has steadily made inroads into Labour’s share of the vote in the constituency in recent elections, coming second to Harpham in last year’s general election with nearly nine thousand votes.

There will be concerns that any attempt to take voters here for granted could backfire and make, what should be a relatively straight-forward by-election, more difficult than it needs to be.

Local party officials say they have been assured by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn there will be no attempt to parachute-in a leadership loyalist.

Harry Harpham was a popular and authentic choice to succeed Blunkett in this working class stronghold and the smart money is on Furniss to now succeed him.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

“I’m part of the union, till the day I die.” Harry Harpham’s tub-thumping socialist send-off

17/02/2016, 02:40:44 PM

by Lucy Ashton

“I’m part of the union, till the day I die.”

The rousing anthem by The Strawbs began yesterday’s funeral service for Sheffield Brightside Labour MP Harry Harpham, who was struck down by a fast-paced cancer just months after entering Parliament last May.

Despite the reserved surroundings of Sheffield Cathedral, this was a tub-thumping, socialist send-off for a former deputy council leader with 20 years local government service under his belt and a passionate trade unionist.

Before the service, members of the National Union of Mineworkers erected large NUM banners at the front of the altar and every mourner was asked to wear a 1980s-style Coal Not Dole yellow sticker.

Labour stalwart and South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings led the service, in his role as an Anglican priest, explaining that the Cathedral had been chosen because it was big enough for the hundreds of mourners.

Any suggestions that this was a religious service were dismissed when the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil was played.

Yet there was a spiritual element as the congregation shared their socialist views, ethics and memories.

Harry, whose real first name was Robert, was the eldest of seven children and leaves two brothers and four sisters.

His brother Rick fondly recalled their loving family but said Harry also had another family – NUM colleagues who had become lifelong friends after Harry spent 15 years down the pit and fought alongside them during the miners’ strike.

And the ghost of the 1980s hung over proceedings as Rick urged mourners to punch the air and yell: “Miners united, will never be defeated.”

Harry, 61, was a gregarious and incredibly friendly man and his service also remembered his role as a loving and beloved father and grandfather.

His daughter Annie – who brought her wedding forward last December so Harry could walk her down the aisle – spontaneously abandoned her planned speech and instead sang a beautiful cappella of Blooming Heather to her father.

It wouldn’t have been an authentic Labour party occasion without the Red Flag, played by the Cathedral organist who also happened to be a party member and wanted to pay a final tribute to Harry.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attended but the final words were left to David Blunkett, who Harry was agent to for many years before succeeding in the Sheffield Brightside seat.

“Harry was my friend. He would always greet me by saying ‘hello comrade’ and that’s how I’ll always remember him.”

Harry’s final journey, in a casket covered with red roses and a flag from his beloved Manchester United FC, was to John Lennon’s Working Class Hero, a truly appropriate song.

Donations in memory of Harry Harpham can be made to Cancer Research UK online via his funeral director at

Lucy Ashton is former political editor of the Sheffield Star

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Harry Harpham, a working class hero

05/02/2016, 09:03:23 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Betty Boothroyd famously said she was Labour because she was born with coal dust under her fingernails. It wasn’t a metaphor with Harry Harpham, the Labour MP for Brightside and Hillsborough, who sadly died yesterday.

Harry was a proud former coal miner, an all-too-rare breed in the modern Labour party, and had participated in the Miner’s Strike of 1984-5. An MP for the first time at 61 when he was elected last May, Harry was about as far from the identikit modern Labour MP as it was possible to be.

As a mature student, he graduated from the University of Sheffield and was elected to Sheffield Council in 2004. By the time he stood down last year, he had become one of the city’s civic fathers, ending up as deputy leader of the council.

As the cabinet lead for housing, Harry oversaw the implementation of the £700 million Decent Homes programme in the city, a massive undertaking as Sheffield has twice the national average number of council homes, and successfully brought council housing back under municipal control from an arm’s length company.

Loyal, hard-working and well-liked, Harry was a natural fit to succeed his friend and mentor, David Blunkett, when he stood down from the Commons last May. For Brightside and Hillsborough, the quintessential northern working class constituency, Harry was a round peg in a round hole if ever there was one and his victory was widely welcomed.

The shock of his death is amplified because of the matter-of-fact way he continued working after receiving a diagnosis of cancer shortly after last year’s Labour conference. Harry threw himself into his new responsibilities and most people simply had no idea how poorly he was.

When he did confirm his illness before Christmas, he was typically understated, not wanting to make “a big song and dance about it”. He was full of praise for the NHS treatment he was receiving.

The additional tragedy of his untimely death is that he would have certainly gone on to play a bigger role in the Westminster party. He literally personified the party’s working class roots.

Never forgetting where he came from, or the struggles he and people like him had overcome, Harry was also intensely practical and had quickly been appointed parliamentary private secretary to Lisa Nandy as shadow energy secretary, despite his illness.

Harry died peacefully surrounded by his family and his friend and colleague, Councillor Bob Johnson, described him as a “brave working class man to the end.”

He leaves a wife, Gill, herself a Labour councillor in Sheffield, and children Annie, Kieran, Dan, Emily and Victoria and grand-daughter Layla Grace.

Harry Harpham, Labour MP for Brightside and Hillsborough (21 February 1954 – 4 February 2016)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon