Austin Mitchell: Wikis


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Austin Mitchell MP

Member of Parliament
for Great Grimsby
Assumed office 
28 April 1977
Preceded by Anthony Crosland
Majority 7,654 (23.2%)

Born 19 September 1934 (1934-09-19) (age 75)
Bradford, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Linda McDougall
Alma mater Nuffield College, Oxford

Austin Vernon Mitchell (born 19 September 1934) is a British Labour politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby since a 1977 by-election.



Mitchell was educated at Woodbottom Council School, Bingley Grammar School, the University of Manchester and Nuffield College, Oxford.

Pre-political Career

From 1959-63 he lectured in History at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. While lecturing in sociology, from 1963-7, at the University of Canterbury, Mitchell wrote a popular book about New Zealand, The Half Gallon Quarter Acre Pavlova Paradise (1972). The book title became a phrase in the New Zealand English lexicon. Thirty years later, in 2002 he wrote Pavlova Paradise Revisited, after another New Zealand expedition. In the 1960s and 70's, New Zealand was a socialist laboratory. In the 80's and 90's, it was transformed into an open market economy. These drastic changes provided ample subject matter for social analysis. From 1967-9, he was an Official Fellow at Nuffield College.

He was a journalist at ITV company Yorkshire Television from 1969 to 1977, presenting their regional news show Calendar, although he spent a short period at the BBC in 1972.

Political career

He was elected to Parliament at a by-election in 1977, following the death of the previous MP, the Foreign Secretary Tony Crosland. At the time Mitchell identified himself as a Gaitskellite.

Mitchell claims to be credited with bringing television cameras to the House of Commons. The move opened the proceedings of the House to the wider public, who previously had only been able to follow via newspapers and, from 1978, radio.


In 2007 Mitchell wrote a front-page article for The Independent newspaper in which he criticised the treatment of a family of asylum-seekers in his constituency. This article quoted him as saying that certain correspondents on the subject to the website of the local newspaper, the Grimsby Telegraph, were 'lumpen lunatics'.[1] The Grimsby Telegraph covered the response in which it stood by the MP but also reported that a number of readers had called for his resignation.[2]

He is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group - although this affiliation did not prevent him from nominating Gordon Brown (rather than John McDonnell) for the Labour Party leadership in 2007. As a supporter of the Better Off Out campaign, Austin could be considered a Eurosceptic and he opposes the Common Fisheries Policy.

Mitchell is also a keen supporter of the Additional Member System, (the electoral system used in elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly), and called a Private Members' Debate on this issue on 1st December 2009.


During his original tenure at Yorkshire Television he often covered the 'quirky' stories and footage exists of him dressed in hotpants whilst another shows him interviewing a female stripper who is shown with back to camera swirling her nipple tassles in front of a surprised Mitchell.[3]

In October 2002 he temporarily changed his name to Austin Haddock as haddock is a staple catch for his constituents that was suffering a decline and it was his wish to promote it.


Mitchell has grown under increasing pressure to deliver changes in his constituency over recent times by local residents; some of whom have accused him of being overly vocal but taking no real action.[4] There has also been jibes poked at him for his photography, taken as an amateur hobby, with the Have I Got News for You satirical programme commenting on the confiscation of his camera during a Labour Party Conference, along with comments by constituents through the local press.[5] According to, Austin has spoken in an 'average' number of debates and is 'well below average' in parliamentary voting.[6]

Personal life

Austin lives with his second wife, the journalist and author Linda McDougall, whom he married in 1976 in Rochdale and with whom he has a son and daughter. He was previously married to Patricia, with whom he had two daughters. He is a photographer[7].


External links


News items

Video clips

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Anthony Crosland
Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby


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