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Joseph Ashton

Member of Parliament
for Bassetlaw
In office
31 October 1968 – 7 June 2001
Preceded by Fred Bellenger
Succeeded by John Mann

Born 9 October 1933 (1933-10-09) (age 76)
Nationality Birtish
Political party Labour

Joseph William Ashton (born 9 October 1933), usually known as Joe Ashton, is a British Labour Party politician who was known for his defence of the rights of Labour members of Parliament against the demands of the left-wing of the party to subject them to mandatory reselection.

Police raids in November 1998 on two massage parlours in Kingsley Park Terrace, Northampton resulted in the discovery of Joe Ashton, then Labour MP for Bassetlaw, in the Siam Sauna with a 21-year-old Thai woman. [1]


Early career

Ashton was born and brought up in Sheffield. He was first elected as a Member of Parliament for Bassetlaw in a 1968 by-election, when he did well to hold the constituency at a time when the Harold Wilson government was highly unpopular and the previous MP (Fred Bellenger) had held a substantial personal vote.


In 1974, when corruption allegations about MPs were widely circulating, Ashton gave an interview to the Labour Party newspaper Labour Weekly. Seeking to defend MPs in general, Ashton insisted that the number who were guilty of corruption "could be counted on the fingers of one hand". This statement backfired, as newspapers demanded that he name the guilty five MPs.

In the late 1970s Ashton served as a junior minister in the government of James Callaghan. After the Labour Party went into opposition he wrote a column for the Daily Star and made regular TV appearances in connection with his football club, Sheffield Wednesday, of which he was a director.

Conference speech

Ashton saw himself as the 'shop steward' for the Parliamentary Labour Party. When left-wing Labour Party activists demanded that sitting MPs submit themselves to their local parties for approval in each Parliament, he made a strong speech at the Labour Party conference in which he said he was pleading to save the jobs of the MPs. He referred to the large number of Labour MPs who had died of stress-related illnesses and linked that to pressure brought on them by their local parties.

Two years before he stood down, he faced allegations about his presence at a 'Thai massage parlour' in Northampton during a police raid [1]. Following his retirement, he was succeeded by John Mann.


  1. ^ The Sun Online | The Best for News, Sport and Showbiz | The Sun

External links

  • [2] Interview BBC Radio Four, 17 July 2009.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Fred Bellenger
Member of Parliament for Bassetlaw
Succeeded by
John Mann


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