Paul Daisley, who has died from cancer aged 45 after less than two years as Labour member of parliament for Brent East, was the beneficiary of an iron rule of politics. When a constituency tires of having as its MP a media star anxious to soar into the stratosphere, it often follows up with one willing to investigate its smelly drains.
Daisley emerged as Ken Livingstone’s parliamentary successor in 2001 after Livingstone had become mayor of London. With the support of the metropolis’s new supremo, he had won selection against fierce competition from three other candidates, claiming to have been the “council leader responsible for transforming Brent into a model Labour authority” during a five-year struggle.
This was no mean achievement, because multi-ethnic Brent, in the north-west of London, had been plagued by fierce factional infighting representing different ethnic and political groups, some of them corrupt. Corruption and factionalism had been the bane both of Livingstone and the old Labour predecessor whom he had ousted, Reg Freeson.
Daisley had soon shown his emollient talents after being elected a Brent councillor in 1990. Next year he became Labour’s chief whip on the council and its leader in 1996. He won considerable local kudos after confronting Harlesden’s black gangsters. Factionalism and skulduggery were apparent during his selection in 2000, requiring the throwing out of some 100 postal ballots.
He campaigned as a Livingstone loyalist, urging that the mayor of London Tony Blair had not wanted be readmitted to the Labour party since he had “gone out of his way to be conciliatory”. Livingstone supported him in his May 2001 election, which he won by 13,000 votes, a percentage equal to Ken’s prior contest, but on a lower turnout. He did not sign on as an MP until September that year.
Unlike Livingstone, he never showed any publicity-mad desire for approval outside his local patch in Brent. Apart from his brief maiden speech to the House of Commons in February 2002 – when he thanked medical staff for his cancer care – he hardly opened his mouth in parliament. This was not from the absence of strong feelings, including opposition to the recent war with Iraq.
He preferred to communicate directly with his constituents in unexciting columns in local free sheets. He was devoted to crime-free and cleaner streets, less graffiti and more recycled rubbish.
Born in Acton in west London, he was educated at Littlemore School in Oxford and Abingdon College in Berkshire. He refused to disclose either to Parliamentary Profiles or Who’s Who the names or occupations of his parents.
His own first job was as accounting officer for the oil company Texaco from 1976 to 1984, when he joined the manufacturing science and finance union (MSF). He then set up his own consultancy company, Daisley Associates.
On the last day before the 2002 Christmas recess, it was announced in the House of Commons that Daisley had been told by his doctors after recent surgery that he only had a short time to live. He may well have died just in time to avoid the battle to avoid being squeezed out of his seat. Brent East is due to be carved up between Paul Boateng’s Brent South and Glenda Jackson’s Hampstead and Highgate.
He leaves his partner since 1984, Lesley Jordan.
• Paul Andrew Daisley, politician and financial consultant, born July 20 1957; died June 18 2003