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12 November 2009

The Returning Officer


By Stephen Brasher

Although seemingly a long-time Labour stronghold, Grimsby was never won by the party until 1945. This may have had something to do with the working-class credentials of its pre-war MP Sir Walter Womersley. The 1939 book Tory MP by the pseudonymous Simon Haxey noted that he had “worked as a half-timer in a factory at the age of ten” and “has been called the only Tory working man in parliament”. His predecessor but one was the almost certainly teased at school Tommy Tickler (or Sir Thomas as he probably preferred), who had made a fortune in jam and marmalade. Interesting names seem to be a feature of Grimsby’s parliamentarians. Anthony Crosland’s middle name was Raven, after his grandfather who had led the “Exclusive” split from the Plymouth Brethren. Colonel Anthony St Leger (1768-74) gave his name to the popular horse race.

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