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Never a Yes Man: The Life and Politics of an Adopted Liverpudlian
Published in Hardcover by (1993)
Author: Eric S. Heffer
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The Left Wing
"Never a Yes Man" is the life story of the maverick left-wing Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, Eric Heffer. Heffer completed the book shortly before his death. Arguably, Heffer was a comparatively minor figure in Labour Party history, only holding Ministerial office for a brief period, but his influence and stature on the left of the Party was far higher than that would indicate.

There's much of interest in this short autobiography: Heffer's upbringing in Hertford (there's no romanticism about early twentieth century provincial England in his account); his time as a member of the Communist Party and subsequent rise through the Trade Union movement and the Labour Party. Above all that, Heffer gives an interesting account of how and why his early beliefs changed, in particular regretting his naive support of Stalin's Soviet Union.

Thereafter, Heffer held to his socialist principles, putting him at odds with the leadership of the Labour Party. Indeed, much of the anger in the book is directed their way rather than at (for example) the Conservatives. This seems to be a recurring theme in the history of the Labour Party, in that it seems to be in permanent division about its aims and the how those aims should be achieved, with the leadership being much less radical than the rank-and-file. Heffer's view was that tension was heightened by the politically rightward drift of the leadership during the time when Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister: taking the Party closer to the Thatcher's Conservatives rather than presenting an viable alternative.

In a sense, Heffer can come across as being out-of-date (even for the time in which the book was written) failing to recognise the realities of the late-twentieth century. Nonetheless it's interesting to read his views for what they reveal about the nature of the Party he served....

Never a Yes Man
Published in Hardcover by Routledge (1992)
Author: Heffer
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