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Roger Duncan Godsiff (born 28 June 1946) is a British politician who has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Hall Green since the 2010 general election, prior to which he was Member of Parliament for Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath from 1992 to 2010. In November 2019, he was barred from standing as the Labour Party candidate over his opposition to LGBT+ Inclusive Education in Birmingham schools. Godsiff subsequently declared his intention to stand as an independent candidate due what he called a 'vicious group of LGBT activists' in the Labour Party .[1]

Roger Godsiff
Official portrait of Mr Roger Godsiff crop 2.jpg
Official parliamentary portrait, June 2017
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Hall Green
In office
7 May 2010 – 6 November 2019
Preceded bySteve McCabe
Succeeded byElection in progress
Majority33,944 (62.5%)
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath
Birmingham Small Heath (1992–1997)
In office
9 April 1992 – 6 May 2010
Preceded byDenis Howell
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1946-06-28) 28 June 1946 (age 73)
Lewisham, London, England
NationalityEnglish
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Julia Brenda Morris

He was the Mayor of Lewisham for 1977/78.

Early lifeEdit

Roger Godsiff was born in London and educated at Catford Comprehensive School.

He was a bank clerk for five years from 1965, joining the Labour Party in 1966.[2]

He was a political officer from 1970 with the trade union APEX and then from 1990 with its successor the GMB until his election to Parliament in 1992.[2] During his time as a trade union official, he was a member of the St Ermins group, a secret caucus of moderate trade unionists who moved the Labour Party back towards the political centre by organising slates for elections to the party's National Executive Committee.[3]

Political careerEdit

Elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Lewisham in 1971, he became the Mayor of Lewisham for 1977/78, before quitting the council at the 1990 London Borough elections. He unsuccessfully contested Birmingham Yardley at the 1983 general election where he finished in second place behind the sitting Conservative MP David Gilroy Bevan. He was elected to the House of Commons for Birmingham Small Heath at the 1992 general election following the retirement of Denis Howell. Godsiff held Small Heath with a majority of 13,989 votes and has remained an MP since. His constituency was abolished in 1997 and, aided by the retirement of Birmingham Sparkbrook MP Roy Hattersley, Godsiff was elected for the newly combined constituency of Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath at the 1997 general election.

The Sparkbrook and Small Heath seat was abolished at the 2010 election, with its constituent parts moving into neighbouring seats. Godsiff was selected for the redrawn Birmingham Hall Green seat in 2008, which includes some of his existing constituency and wards which were formerly in the two Birmingham constituencies of Hall Green and Selly Oak. He was re-elected at the May 2010 general election with a majority of 3,799.[4]

In Parliament he was a special adviser to the former Minister of Sport Richard Caborn on cricket and is the chairman of the All Party Japan Group. In October 2006, Godsiff was one of 12 Labour MPs to back Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party's call for an inquiry into the Iraq War.[5] He also rebelled against the government in November 2005 on legislation permitting the detention of terrorist suspects for 90 days without trial.[6]

Godsiff called for economic migration to the UK to be "stopped" in 2005.[7] He was one of seven signatories in 2014 of an open letter to Ed Miliband calling upon him to commit to restricting the ability of workers from low income EU countries to move to the UK.[8]

In the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, Godsiff supported the Leave campaign,[9] although his constituency voted by 66.4% to remain in the European Union.[10] Unusually for a pro-Brexit MP, he abstained from the vote to invoke Article 50, which would commence the UK's process of withdrawal from the EU, on the grounds that he was respecting his constituents' pro-Remain vote.

Godsiff supported Owen Smith in the latter's failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour leadership election.[11]

During the 2017 election campaign his local campaign leaflet went viral in the UK due to its slogan "unwanted, unnecessary, opportunistic", which was supposed to be about the snap election called by Theresa May, but appeared due to the format to be referring to Godsiff himself.[12] At the election he gained 42,143 votes (77.6%), giving him a majority of 33,944 (62.5%), which was the twelfth largest majority of any UK MP by percentage of constituency vote.[13]

In October 2019 Labour Party members in all four branches of his Hall Green constituency opted to trigger a re-selection process to choose the Labour candidate at the next General Election. As a sitting Member of Parliament, Godsiff is automatically entitled to be shortlisted as a potential candidate. Godsiff had indicated that he intended to stand for re-selection.[14] However, the process was paused due to the election being called that month, resulting in the decision being made by the NEC to not endorse Godsiff and select a new candidate by local panel. [15]

ControversyEdit

Andy McSmith's book Faces of Labour (1996), contends that Godsiff obtained selection for his seat in 1992 by dubious means which, although accepted by the Labour Party, were too late to act upon. In 2005, Tribune made similar allegations about his successful bid to stave off deselection, which was only thwarted by the local votes of his former employer, the GMB Union. Godsiff had angered many in his local party by his calls for curbs on immigration.

Godsiff also attracted attention in the 2009 parliamentary expenses scandal, where he was reported as using office expenses for extensive roofing work, rewiring, replacement guttering and even clock repair at a property he owns.[16] He incurred the second highest expenses of all 647 MPs' for 2008/2009 with claims for £189,338.[17]

Further controversy followed when he used images of convicted child sex offender and nursery worker Vanessa George in campaign material for the 2010 election, claiming the Liberal Democrats were seeking for "convicted murderers, rapists and paedophiles to be given the vote", which the Lib Dems denied was their policy. The local campaign was later scrapped.[18]

In 2011, The Guardian declared that, based on his participation in votes, Godsiff was "Britain's laziest MP", being absent from 88% of votes at the start of that year. He has attended less than 50% of parliamentary debates during his whole time in office and refuses to take any part in hustings meetings.[19] He responded to the Birmingham Mail about his participation, saying "when you are in opposition and the government has a substantial majority, you know perfectly well that you aren't going to be able to have an effect on every vote".[20]

Godsiff opposed marriage equality in 2013, saying that he did not want to "[redefine] the current definition of marriage."[21] In May 2019, in the wake of protests in Birmingham over LGBT-inclusive education in primary schools, Godsiff sided with the protestors: "I have concerns about the age appropriateness of children of four and five being introduced to these ideas", he said, later admitting that he had not read the books. Anderton Park Primary School in Sparkhill, which has been at the centre of the row, is in Godsiff's constituency. He has defended his voting record on equality legislation, stating, "I am supportive of the LGBT community. I have consistently voted for all laws pertaining to equality and to defend the rights of everyone to live the lifestyle they choose."[22]

Personal lifeEdit

Godsiff has been married to Julia Brenda Morris since 1977 and they have a son and a daughter.[23]

He is a lifelong supporter of Charlton Athletic F.C.[24] and was previously the chairman of the Charlton Athletic Community Trust, which oversees the club's community work. He resigned from this position on 26 June 2019 following the controversy surrounding his support for the anti-LGBT protesters in Birmingham.[25]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ [Ex-Labour MP to run as an independent]
  2. ^ a b "BBC NEWS | VOTE 2001 | CANDIDATES". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  3. ^ Hayter, Dianne (2004). "St Ermins group (act. 1981-1987)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/96690. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Birmingham City Council: General Election 2010".
  5. ^ "Labour MPs who rebelled on Iraq". BBC News. 31 October 2006. Retrieved 31 October 2006.
  6. ^ "Terrorism Bill – Clause 23 – rebels". Public Whip. 9 November 2005. Retrieved 1 November 2006.
  7. ^ "Labour MP wants immigration end". BBC. 31 January 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Labour MPs urge leadership to curb free movement within EU". Observer. 1 June 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Roger's views on the EU referendum". Roger Godsiff MP. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  10. ^ Brown, Graeme (28 June 2016). "Birmingham Leave MPs' constituencies voted Remain". birminghammail. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  11. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  12. ^ Walker, Jonathan (15 May 2017). "Election candidate Roger Godsiff's leaflet attacking himself". birminghammail. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Constituencies A-Z - Election 2017". BBC News. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  14. ^ Walker, Jonathan (8 October 2019). "MP Roger Godsiff fights on in battle to remain Labour candidate". birminghammail. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  15. ^ watson, iain (6 November 2019). "Breaking: Chris Williamson, Stephen Hepburn and Roger Godsiff not endorsed as @uklabour candidates by NEC and new ones will be selected". @iainjwatson. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  16. ^ Jamieson, Alastair (31 May 2009). "Roger Godsiff: Claimed for bath mats and property repairs on MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
  17. ^ Jamieson, Alastair (31 May 2009). "Roger Godsiff: Claimed for bath mats and property repairs on MPs' expenses". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Row over paedophile vote leaflet". BBC News. 19 April 2010.
  19. ^ "PoliticsHome.com". PoliticsHome.com.[dead link]
  20. ^ Curtis, Polly (8 September 2011). "Reality check: Who are Britain's laziest parliamentarians?". the Guardian. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  21. ^ Duffy, Nick (21 May 2019). "Joe Lycett responds to Labour MP who criticised LGBT+ education". PinkNews. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  22. ^ Haynes, Jane (21 May 2019). "MP says four and five year olds 'too young' for LGBT teaching". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  23. ^ "BBC NEWS | VOTE 2001 | CANDIDATES". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  24. ^ Jamieson, Alastair (31 May 2009). "Roger Godsiff: Claimed for bath mats and property repairs on MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  25. ^ "A statement from Charlton Athletic Community Trust". cact.org.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2019.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Denis Howell
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Small Heath
19921997
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath
19972010
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Steve McCabe
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Hall Green
2010–2019
Succeeded by
Election in progress