Died 19 October 2012, aged 91: TRIBUTES poured in with the passing of the widely-respected former Wakefield MP, Walter Harrison, of Milnthorpe Drive, Sandal. He represented the city in the House of Commons from 1964 until he retired in 1987 and he was the Labour government’s deputy chief whip for five years from 1974. He was granted the Freedom of the City of Wakefield in 2003.
He is seen as the driving force in keeping James Callaghan’s beleaguered Labour government in power during the 1970s until Margaret Thatcher swept in following the Winter of Discontent. This House, a National Theatre production, is based on his role. Mr Harrison is played by Life on Mars actor Philip Glenister who told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that he was used to portraying 1970s ‘brutes’. Follow this link to watch the interview: www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-19776923
Another former city MP, David Hinchcliffe, who succeeded Mr Harrison, said in the Wakefield Express: ‘I don’t think people in Wakefield understand just how much Walter did. He was involved in a huge amount of things and still worked hard for his constituents, even though he had such a demanding government role. He took a great interest in the younger end of the Party.” Norman Hazell, who as Conservative candidate fought Mr Harrison to a recount in the 1983 general election, wrote in his column in the Express: “Although Walter was growing old, his remarkable memory never failed him... Even as he entered his 90s, his brain was as sharp as eve
Mr Harrison, born in Dewsbury, was the eldest of ten children. He attended Dewsbury Technical and Art College before working with his father at the Yorkshire Electric Power Company. He served as an RAF corporal during the Second World War, stationed much of the time in Iraq. After the war he worked for construction company Costain, where his organisational skills led to him being appointed welfare and personnel officer. After his retirement from the House of Commons, he continued to support the city and he was a patron of the Friends of Wakefield Chantry Chapel and vice-president of Black Horse Poets. Mr Harrison married Enid in 1948. After her death in 1990, he married Jane, who died in 2000. He left a son, daughter and four grandsons.
.Photo courtesy Wakefield Express