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John Hamilton (2 September 1922 – 14 December 2006) was a British politician. He was a member of the Labour Party and Leader of Liverpool City Council from 1983 to 1986.


Municipal life

Hamilton was a lifelong bachelor and worked as a schoolteacher. He was a member of the Religious Society of Friends, known as the Quakers, also serving as a magistrate. First elected to the council in 1958, Hamilton became Leader of the Labour Group in 1974 replacing Bill Sefton[1]. He led the council from 1976 to 1978, although with no majority he was often overturned by the Liberal and Conservative groups acting together. In 1978 Hamilton was briefly deposed as Labour group leader by Eddie Roderick when Labour lost power, but returned after a few weeks.

1980s leadership

He was a left-winger but was not a member of the Militant Tendency [2] who dominated the Liverpool Labour group at the time. However as Militant rose Hamilton was allowed to retain the leadership as a figurehead from the left-wing non-Militant members to disguise the fact that real power lay with Deputy Leader Derek Hatton. [3] Hamilton knew this, and remarked "When I die I will go to hell with Hatton because he will make it look like heaven." [4]Although a quietly spoken man, at all times Hamilton acted according to his principles: it was for this that he was most respected by all on the left of the Labour Party.

After the Labour Party investigation had closed down the District Labour Party and began expulsions of Militant members of the City Council, Hamilton was overthrown as Leader by Tony Byrne on 20 November 1986. Byrne was never a Militant member[5] but had jointly led the budget fight with the government with Militant, Hamilton and others. [6]

Later life

Along with 46 other members of the council who had voted to set an illegal budget, Hamilton was surcharged and banned from office for five years in 1987. He retained some posts, including membership of the Liverpool Racial Equality Council. [7] He was never expelled from the Labour Party, and remained popular, becoming Chairman of Liverpool Broadgreen Constituency Labour Party in 1987; [8] however his attempts to regain a council seat were in vain. Interviewed later, Hamilton was unrepentant about his actions and declared that he would do the same again. [9] In 2005 Hamilton declined the offer of being made an Honorary Alderman on the nomination of the Labour Group on Liverpool. [10]

He was severely injured in a house fire in January 2000. [11]


  1. ^ John Hamilton Obitury, The Telegraph 21st December, 2006
  2. ^ Jo Thomas, "Liverpool's Rebirth: Poverty is never far away", New York Times, October 17, 1985.
  3. ^ Hatton wrote in 1988 "[Hamilton] wouldn't harm a fly and we knew that it would be seen as inhumane if we removed someone who, in fairness, had given so many years of his life to the party. So we let him stay as leader. We knew that at no stage would his existence prevent us doing our job. We knew, too, that he had his uses. The moderates who might feel inclined to rock the boat felt safe with Hamilton apparently in charge. If he voted for something, it was good enough for them. We knew he would vote our way. It was more than his job as leader was worth to do otherwise." See Derek Hatton, "A model Militant", Sunday Times, February 21, 1988.
  4. ^ E. Rex Makin, "Don't give honour to militant", Liverpool Echo, September 30, 2005, p. 18.
  5. ^ Crick, Michael, The March of Militant, p242
  6. ^ Alan Dunn, "Left topples Hamilton as Liverpool leader", The Guardian, November 21, 1986.
  7. ^ Erlend Clouston, "Race body to fold in 'Vendetta' row", The Guardian, March 17, 1993, p. 5
  8. ^ Alan Dunn, "Local upsets leave MPs facing possible defeat", The Guardian, November 16, 1987.
  9. ^ Paddy Shennan, "Rebels with Cause", Liverpool Echo, September 27, 2005, p. 10.
  10. ^ "Ex-militant leader says no to city honour", Liverpool Echo, September 1, 2005, p. 2.
  11. ^ "Ex-council boss fights for life", Daily Mail, January 25, 2000.
Political offices
Preceded by
Trevor Jones
Leader of Liverpool City Council
Succeeded by
Tony Byrne


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