Mick Cornish: working class intellectual; Labour Party member since 1956; Fabian; trade unionist; Co-operator.
Mick Cornish was born and brought up in Suffolk. He was the son of a railway signalman whose predecessor had been the secretary of the local Labour party branch, and in fact was born in Station House. In 1945, an eight-year old Mick delivered Labour general election leaflets to Trimley St Mary.
Mick was educated at Trimley village primary school, Felixstowe county grammar school and King’s College, Cambridge. In 1956 at university Mick joined the Labour Party. In three terms in the 1958-1959 year, Mick was successively secretary, vice chairman and chairman of Cambridge University Labour Club. Mick was also campaigns organiser of the National Association of Labour Student Organisations.
After Cambridge, Mick took a teachers’ diploma at Aberystwyth. Mick’s first job was teaching history at Sudbury High School for Girls back in Suffolk. After a couple of months he was joined by his wife, daughter and dachshund, having bought a house next door to the Old School in Head Lane, Great Cornard. He swiftly became Head of History and Head of French at Manningtree County Secondary School.
Mick Cornish was first elected to Great Cornard Parish Council in 1961 and to West Suffolk County Council in 1964. Mick’s main preoccupation during many years on West Suffolk (then Suffolk) county council - where he was Leader of the Labour group on both - was education and Great Cornard’s four new schools: a middle, an upper and two primaries. Sadly, this progressive system of education has now been destroyed by the Conservatives.
Mick has stood for Parliament five times and once for the European Parliament. Mick stood for Saffron Walden in 1964 and again in 1965 following the ennoblement of R A Butler. In 1966, he came within 358 votes of stopping the career of Jim Prior in its tracks before it had even got started.
From 1968-1973, Mick was Deputy General Secretary of the Fabian Society. He did not fight a seat in 1970 but instead acted as agent for Micky Barnes in Brentford and Chiswick.
In the two elections of 1974, Mick was again a parliamentary candidate, this time for the Lincolnshire constituency of Holland with Boston.
Mick became chairman of Great Cornard Parish Council for the second time (1983-1987). He has been Chairman of Great Cornard Parish Council on several occasions, most recently from 2011-2014. It was Mick’s drive and leadership that led to Great Cornard being the first parish council in the country successfully to create a Country Park, opened by David Bellamy in 1986.
In 1989, Mick fought the Euro-constituency of Suffolk and East Cambridgeshire, an interesting decision for someone who had held what would now be called Eurosceptic views!
After his stint at the Fabian Society, Mick supported himself financially by forming his own company, Anglia Advertising Agency Ltd. Later in 1989, however, like a new man, Mick followed his wife in her career move to Knowsley on Merseyside. There he remained for the 1990s and into the new millennium. From 1991-1993, Mick was Clerk to Knowsley Parish Council and Secretary to Merseyside Association of Local Councils (MALC), thus experiencing local government from the officer side for the first time.
On his return to Great Cornard from Merseyside, Mick became a director of the East of England Co-op. Mick had joined the Felixstowe branch of the Ipswich Co-operative Society at 16 years of age. From 1960-1975, he was a member, director and Vice President of the Halsted Co-op in Essex and South Suffolk before this was taken over by the Ipswich and Norwich Co-op.
Mick has always been an active trade unionist, a NUT member when he was a teacher and afterwards a Transport and General Workers Union and now Unite the Union member. He was for many years the chairman of the 808 branch of the TGWU, the branch for Sudbury and district members who did not work at the Lucas/CAV factory.
When he won his parish council seat back in 2011, a longstanding Tory opponent called Mick an ‘old lefty’. He was pleased to be so described.
So there you have the man. Working class intellectual. Labour Party member since 1956. Fabian, trade unionist, Co-operator. Old Lefty. Mick Cornish.
Great Cornard Parish Council, 1983-2007 & 2011-present.
Babergh District Council, 1985-2007 & 2010 –present.