Scottish political movers and shakers No 6 - George Foulkes

By Pryin IzeOur Biographical Correspondent

foulkes2George Foulkes (aka Ffoulkes or other variations) has had a chequered career - sometimes coming into conflict with officers wearing a checkered cap band, but always ensuring that he received a sufficient supply of cheques.

Little has been revealed about the early life of boy George, and it's impact on the adult he might have become. 

Born on the English side of the Welsh border in 1942, George moved to Keith in 1944, where he went to the local primary before moving south again to London where he attended the 'direct grant' (the English term for 'grant aided') Haberdasher's Aske School.

Instead of going to Oxbridge, like most Old Haberdashers (a term only loosely related to a seller of old clothes), the young Foulkes headed north to Edinburgh to study Physics. Whether it was the fault of his writing, his spelling, or just not bothering to check his facts, he found himself studying Psychology (Physics still being called Natural Philosophy till the late 60s).

Foulkes was soon embroiled in student politics, and found he had a natural talent for its distinctively immature side - deceit, dissimulation, and dirty tricks. Never one to take a subtle approach, he said, “There will always be a danger that I’ll end up with my foot in my mouth but it’s a risk well worth taking.” Ensuring that he only offended those unimportant to hs career, Foulkes was always loyal to the dominant element in the Labour Party. Left wing and pro-devolution in the 70s and 80s, he then became the ultimate  loyalist to Labour's 'modernising' leadership.

Neil Kinnock, recognising a fellow loud-mouth gave Foulkes his first steps on the Parliamentary ladder, by giving him Front Bench Opposition spokesmen posts. Foulkes then fell to the ground - literally. A contemporary description read :

At a party held by the Scotch Whisky Association, the defence spokesman at the time, also a magistrate, drank adequately from the fountain of the water of life. One witness described Foulkes's subsequent behaviour as "like Zebedee on acid". The MP trundled back to the Commons for a crunch vote.

Unfortunately, the pavements of Westminster dipped and rose like the deck of a clipper on a choppy sea, tossing him into the arms of pedestrians. An attempt to dance with a 70-year-old lady resulted in them both hugging the asphalt. Foulkes biffed one persistently helpful constable on the chin.

He was arrested and invited to spend the night enjoying Her Majesty's hospitality. He pleaded guilty to assault and being drunk and disorderly, and was fined £1,050. He vowed not to drink whisky again.

Alas, but one of many of the Foulkes promises destined to be unfulfilled. Indeed, I need to take issue with our revered illustrator. On no recorded incident, has Foulkes spilt any alcohol, other than into his mouth.

new cumnockSwiftly removed by Leader John Smith, Foulkes was restored to minor office (Minister of State at the Scottish Office is so minor a post that even David Mundell is thought suitable to hold the post) for a few years, before his seat was abolished and he was made Baron Foulkes of Cumnock.

It would be unkind to suggest that Baron Ffoulkes of New Cumnock might have been more appropriate.

As a brief aside from serious politics, Lord Ffoulkes spent a term as an MSP as well as picking up useful dosh from appearing in the Dining Rooms and Bars of their Lordhip's House. His one service to Unionism during that period, was to invent the term "cybernat" in 2008. It remains unclear whether he was simply misspelling syberant - a species of virtual insects that heavy topers frequently see crawling over them.

Given his capacity for self-publicity we may pass over his more ludicrous pieces of performance art in the Lords, and move on to his most important activities - the attempted destruction of Hearts FC, as a devious attack on Alex Salmond's favourite club.

It is notable that the online "Famous Quotes" of George Foulkes are all Hearts related. Relieved of even minimal responsibility at Westminster, Foulkes could devote time to plotting to attain the top job. While Salmond was merely plotting to become First Minister of Scotlandshire, Foulkes worked the voters on the Hearts Board to become Chairman. As he claimed, the board appointed him because "my political activities have given me some respect in political, business and other communities." The extent of respect that has to be qualified by "some" should be questioned.

Impressed by his colleague Gordon Brown's tactic of giving the UK economy to the bankers virtually free, Foulkes copied the strategy by encouraging shareholders to deliver shares to Lithuanian banker Vladimir Romanov for "bugger all". Given the ethical dubiety of some of Romanov's banking operations, it is hardly surprising that Foulkes sees no problem with Ian Taylor's cash.


Related Articles

Wikipedia : George Foulkes, Baron Foulkes of Cumnock

Antisocial Britain : George Foulkes

Famous Quotes : George Foulkes Quotes 

Daily Record : MP'S SON IS SOCCER HOOLIGAN; Yob claimed minister dad would 'trouble' cops.


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