Eddie Loyden 1923-2003

Eddie Loyden, Labour MP for Garston, 1974-79 and 1983-97 died in May 2003, aged 79.

Edward Loyden was born in Liverpool in 1923. His family were Liverpudlian Catholics of Irish origin. His father was a van driver. Eddie was educated at Friary RC elementary school. In 1938, aged 15, he went to sea with the Merchant Navy and his wartime experiences of submarine-threatened convoys gave him a life-long detestation of any notion of romantic wars.

After the war he worked as a boatman in the Mersey Docks, and was a long-time T&GWU shop steward. He joined the Labour Party in 1952 and was elected to Liverpool City Council in 1960. In 1966 he was elected President of Liverpool Trades Council. In February 1974 he was elected to Parliament for Garston with a majority of 681. This was a considerable achievement at the time for although the Constituency contains the Speke council estate and many of the electorate worked at the huge Ford factory at Halewood, Garston had a significantly large middle class electorate; and thirty years ago Liverpool regularly returned two Conservative Members of Parliament.

He held the seat in the second election of 1974 with an increased majority and served his colleagues and his city as Secretary of the Merseyside Group of MPs from 1976 until losing his seat in 1979. Out of Parliament he was elected Vice-Chairman of Liverpool District Labour Party and was deeply involved in the politics of the city in the particularly momentous times of the 1980s. Although not strictly a Trotskyist, his left-wing and working class credentials caused him to side with the Militants in the struggles of those times. During the period out of the House, he was also out of work. He was re-elected for his old seat in 1983 – again quite a feat in what was not a good year for Labour – and thereafter represented the constituency with a comfortable majority until his retirement in 1997.

He was a no-compromise, class-fighter and definitely a member of the usual suspects. He didn’t just fall out with the Party Leadership on a regular basis, he also crossed swords with Trade Union leaders and even the General Secretary of his own Trade Union, the T&G. When Ron Todd sought to avert a confrontation with the Government over the abolition of the dock labour scheme, Eddie saw this as a betrayal of the dockers, plain and simple. His lasting achievement may well have been his earlier contribution to the ending of the casual status of dockworkers’ jobs; in Liverpool’s hey-day as one of Britain’s major ports. This is an era which has long passed; as have the socio-economic circumstances which produced Eddie and a generation of working class Labour MPs who knew hard manual labour and who came up through the university of hard knocks. His funeral in Liverpool yesterday was very well attended – by a great cross-section of the Party, and others who have left us, voluntarily or otherwise. This morning in the PLP we salute his memory.

Alan Howarth, PLP