Epilogue 1: Updates

The new councils at a glance

(T&A May 1990)

Bradford

Labour 47

Conservative 41

Lib/Dem 2

The Conservatives lost control of the council to Labour, who gained five seats and now have an overall majority of four. Labour got a nine per cent swing in its favour, and of the 32 seats it won 24, the Tories won 8 and the Liberal Democrats and Greens won none.

Pickles fails in secret bid for safe Tory seat

Leeds Other Paper 27/7/90

FORMER BRADFORD council leader Eric Pickles failed earlier this month in his first bid to become an MP.

The controversial Tory councillor attended a selection meeting for the safe Tory Midlands seat of Halesowen and Stourbridge on July 6th.

He was one of 3 candidates shortlisted from a large number of applicants hoping to stand in the next general election when the sitting M.P. Sir John Stokes retires leaving a majority of 13,000.

Councillor Pickles, who has always publicly denied any Parliamentary ambitions, has been on the Tory Central office 'approved' candidates list for some time, it was revealed. He kept the news of his Parliamentary bid secret, even from his local Tory colleagues.

The selection was won by former Tory M.P. Warren Hawksley. Councillor Pickles missed last weeks council meeting due to an injured back, when news of his failed bid was revealed by liberal councillor John Wells.

Pickles fails MP bid again

Leeds Other Paper 3/8/90

FORMER Bradford chief Eric Pickles has failed in his latest attempt to become a Conservative MP in a safe Tory seat.

Former Thatcher favourite, Pickles, has failed to get through even the first round of the selection procedure for the North Yorkshire seat of Scarborough and Whitby. The seat has become vacant following the retirement of Sir Michael Shaw who is leaving behind a majority of more than 13,600.

Pickles was among 30 hopefuls, most of whom have been rejected. All local candidates have already been eliminated, including the three leading members of the Scarborough and Whitby Conservative Association.

Front runner is gossip columnist Lady Olga Maitland, head of the right-wing group 'Peace through Nato'.

Pickles to quit for Commons race

By Francine Lee (Yorkshire Post 26/2/91)

THE MAN who brought Mrs Margaret Thatcher's town hall revolution to Bradford, gaining her esteem and Labour's anger, is leaving local politics to pursue a Parliamentary career.

Coun Eric Pickles told Tory colleagues at a group meeting last night that he was standing down as their leader from the beginning of April and would not be seeking re-election to Bradford Council in the local elections in May.

The announcement followed a decision by senior Conservatives in the Tory stronghold of Brentwood and Ongar, Essex, to recommend him for adoption as their prospective Parliamentary candidate.

The seat falls vacant at the next election because of the decision of the sitting MP, Sir Robert McCrindle, not to seek re-election.

Sir Robert held the constituency with a Conservative majority of 18,921 in the 1987 elections.

Coun Pickles received the support of "a substantial majority" of Brentwood and Ongar's constituency executive committee when he was interviewed with other hopefuls on February 24.

His is the only name to go forward for an adoption vote at a general meeting of the constituency party on March 15.

Coun Pickles said last night that he viewed with mixed feelings his decision to quit local politics

He said: "Obviously I am very sad to be leaving many friends behind on Bradford Council. More particularly I am sad to be leaving the Worth Valley, which I have represented for a number of years and care about deeply. But I am delighted with this new and exciting challenge.

"I am very confident that there are lots of people on Bradford Conservative group who will be able to take up the leadership."

Coun Pickles has been a Bradford councillor since 1979, entering local politics on the same day that Mrs Thatcher first swept into power at Westminster.

He has been Conservative group leader for exactly four years and, during his 18-month rule, made Bradford one of the Conservatives' flagship local authorities.

He attracted Prime Ministerial approval and local Labour outrage with radical reforms, approved on the casting vote of the Lord Mayor.

Staffing levels were cut and services privatised in a programme which, he insisted, was necessary - not to cut costs, but to breathe new life into what he described as a cosy world in which town halls stifled enterprise.

He argued that local services should be run by local authorities only if that was the most efficient option.

His group's programme of changes was halted when Labour regained control of the authority last May.

Pickles is first choice

Brentwood & Ongar Gazette 1/3/91

MR ERIC PICKLES has been named as a possible successor for Brentwood and Ongar MP Sir Robert McCrindle who will not be seeking re-election at the next General Election.

Mr Pickles, aged 38, of Keighley, Yorkshire, was short-listed down from 257 candidates to the final 24 who were interviewed by the Constituency Executive Council two weeks ago. It was decided that only his name would be put forward for recommendation to the General Meeting for Adoption when it meets on Friday, March 15.

Mr Pickles is currently the Leader of the Conservative Group on Bradford City Council and the Deputy Leader of the Conservatives on the Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

He was born in Keighley and attended Greenhead Grammar School and then KeighIey and Leeds Polytechnic. He has been married for 15 years and is a keen hill walker.

He joined the Conservative Party in 1968 and has vast political experience especially in the fields of local government, the Health Service and race relations.

He told the Gazette that he was delighted at being recommended as parliamentary prospective candidate: "My first priority will be to establish myself as my honourable friend, Sir Robert has done, as a good constituent MP. I look forward to representing all the people of Brentwood and Ongar, even those who support different parties."

But, within hours of his candidature being announced, Brentwood Labour Party parliamentary candidate Frances Keohane threw down the gauntlet by challenging him to public debate on the Government's record.

"The Conservatives have selected a hardline Thatcherite," said Mr Keohane.

It's Pickles - with relish

Brentwood & Ongar Gazette, 15/4/92

IT WAS Pickles with relish for Brentwood and Ongar electorate when they made their Yorkshire-born Tory candidate the newest Essex-man after sweeping him to victory on a massive 32,145 vote rollercoaster.

There could have been very little doubt that Eric Pickles would hold on to Brentwood's Tory seat. But by the look on the faces of even the Party's most fervent supporters it was obvious that they were surprised that his victory was such a knock-out.

As the blue line of ballot papers galloped ahead of the red, orange and green on the "votes counted" table the Liberal Democrat orange line fell back and Labour's red faltered at the first jump before collapsing altogether, the Conservatives got to grips with a run-away win.

A trouble-free count at Brentwood Adult Education Centre brought acting returning officer Colin Sivell to his feet at 1.15am to deliver the body-blow which by now Liberal Democrat's Liz Bottomley knew was going to come.

Her Party's optimistic predictions of a mass Tory defection were hammered as Mr Sivell handed Eric Pickles a 40th birthday present a week early with the announcement that a massive 32,145 vote had swept him into Westminster.

Only 113 votes behind Sir Robert McCrindle's 1987 best of 32,258 Mr Pickles was among the most successful of first-time candidates, and the constituency's 84.63 per cent turnout one of the highest in Essex. Mrs Bottomley could not hide her disappointment even though with 17,000 she was 3,663 votes up on the old Alliance poll.

Earlier that evening, party faithful of all colours looked decidedly jaded and then, just over an hour into the count, Basildon happened, the first marginal of the night held by the Tories.

The adrenaline began to pump and candidates, agents and party followers were kick-started into action.

Mr Pickles immediately began to talk like a winner and his agent, Maggie MeEwen must certainly have known a wave of relief.

She had been pitched into the General Election melee only two weeks after passing her agent's exams.

Mr Pickles was the first candidate to arrive for the count. His imposing figure, followed by wife Irene, trim and eye-catching in Tory blue, arrived to a flurry of applause at 11.10, quickly followed by Mrs Bottomley.

All through the campaign her camp had predicted that she was going to give Mr Pickles a run for his money.

In the event she was only an each-way bet, struggling home behind the Tory gallop more than 15,000 votes short.

Labour's Francis Keohane was even more disappointed in third place, dropping to 6,080 - 962 votes below the 1987 total.

The Green Party lost their deposit yet again when Carolyn Bartley picked up only 535 votes.

Ex-leader takes step up ladder to power

by KERSTI MITCHELL (T&A 16/2/93)

Ex-Bradford Council leader Eric Pickles today took his first step on the ministerial ladder.

Minister for Industry Tim Sainsbury has appointed the 40 year-old MP for Brentwood and Ongar in Essex as his Parliamentary private Secretary.

Mr Pickles is now effectively Mr Sainsbury's "minder" and unpaid bag carrier.

But the new appointment will give him a fair chance of gaining a junior ministerial post within the lifetime of the current parliament.

Mr Pickles, one of the most controversial council leaders Bradford has seen, was elected as member of the authority for Worth VaIIey in 1979 - the same year Mrs Thatcher began her reign in Downing Street.

He began an 18-month rule as leader of Bradford Council in September, 1988 and radical measures to cut council jobs, sell off elderly peoples' homes and sports-centres, and raise council house rents and school meal charges made him a national figure overnight.

Pickles' key role

T&A 29/3/93

FORMER Bradford Council leader Eric Pickles, has been appointed Conservative Party vice-chairman in charge of local government affairs. Party chairman Sir Norman Fowler said Mr Pickles would have a key role to play in the run-up to the 1994 local elections.

Ford chief and MP in death crash

The Times 6 June 1994

THE chairman of the Ford Motor Company and a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party were hurt when their Jaguar XJ6 was involved in a fatal accident after an evening at the Glyndebourne opera.

Ian McAlIister and Eric Pickles, 42, MP for Brentwood and Ongar, were taken to hospital, along with Mr Pickles's wife, lrene, and their driver, Mario Carbonara.

The other car, a left-hand drive Chevrolet Camero, was driven by Edward Clark, 57, of Hastings, East Sussex. He was certified dead at the scene by a consultant anaesthetist who happened to be passing.

Mr McAllister was detained overnight in Eastbourne District General Hospital for observation. A spokesman for Ford said that Mr McAllisters wife, Susan, was also in the Jaguar, but was not hurt in the accident at a roundabout on the A27 near Lewes, East Sussex.

Mr and Mrs Pickles and the McAllisters, all from Brentwood, Essex, were taken to hospital along with Mr Carbonara, 52, from Chingford. All except Mr McAllister were later discharged after treatment for minor injuries.

Sports car death; Edward Clarke

The Times 10 November 1994

An inquest was told that Edward Clarke, 57, of Hastings, died instantly when his sports car hit a chauffeur-driven Jaguar containing Eric Pickles, MP, and lan McAllister, chairman of Ford, near Lewes, East Sussex. Verdict: accident.