A great grandson of Morpeth MP Robert Smillie, one of the founders of the Labour Party, is hoping to follow in his footsteps to take a place in Parliament.
But Blair Smillie will not be a Labour candidate for the General Election, standing instead for UKIP.
It’s an interesting turn of events, for somebody who would class Robert Smillie as the father of Scottish socialism, his great grandson, to be standing as an MP for UKIP.Blair Smillie
Robert Smillie represented Morpeth from 1923 to 1929, helping to form the first Labour Government. His great grandson initially had no interest in politics, but after reading Robert Smillie’s own book, My Life For Labour, six years ago, he was keen to find out more.
“This book had been in the family forever, but I hadn’t looked at it seriously before,” he said.
“I started reading it and it inspired me to try to have the book re-published and write what I wanted to be a factual memoir of my great grandfather’s life.”
Mr Smillie, 61, turned to writer Torquil Cowan and in 2010 the book Labour Of Love, The Story of Robert Smillie was published, sparking his great grandson’s own involvement in politics.
“My great grandfather’s life inspired me to get into politics so I joined the Labour Party, but I quickly realised that it wasn’t the Labour Party that Robert Smillie and Keir Hardie and the other early pioneers had set up,” he said.
“I came out of politics then, but I went along to a UKIP meeting just after the European elections and it seemed that it was probably the most exciting thing to happen to British politics. I became a member and was very quickly asked if I would stand for Parliament.
“It’s an interesting turn of events, for somebody who would class Robert Smillie as the father of Scottish socialism, his great grandson, to be standing as an MP for UKIP, which a lot of people say is more Tory than the Tories. I’m certainly not a Tory.”
He added: “Politicians like Robert Smillie were there for their country. I think you should be in politics for your country, then your constituency, and then your Party.”
Mr Smillie is standing for election in the Alyn and Deeside constituency in North Wales. He is campaigning to bring back the British coal industry, which he says UKIP supports.
The other candidates in the constituency are Jacqueline Hurst (Plaid Cymru), Alasdair Ibbotson (Green), Tudor Jones (Liberal Democrat), Laura Knightly (Conservative) and Mark Tami (Labour).