Thanks to Frank Field

Frank Field

Frank Field is dying and dying as he has lived, in a public and dignified way.

Here Lady Meacher speaks for Lord Field at yesterday’s Lord’s debate on assisted dying

Many people reading this blog will know Frank better much better than me. Here are the three encounters I had with the man , each of which has left me not just with good memories but with an exempla for how I want to live my later years.

Memory one – Oxford 1998

I had driven to Oxford and parked in the park and ride off the M40. I spent the day at an academic conference where Frank Field was speaking to wrap the day up. I introduced myself to him after he spoke and he asked me if I had come far, I told him I was going back to London and he offered me a lift in the Ministerial car. His chauffeur dropped me at the park and ride.

Memory two – Westminster 2018

I was called to speak at a Work and Pensions Committee meeting on what was going on with pensions in Port Talbot, Frank Field was chairing. He dealt with everyone who gave evidence with dignity and respect but when he discovered the FCA had not prepared he turned on Megan Butler with a razor-tongue.

Memory three – Whitehall 2019

Andy Agethangelou and I were having a beer outside the Horse and Guardsman, discussing something or other. The conversation turned to Frank Field and how he could help pursue the matter. As we chatted, Frank Field walked by on the other side of the road. Andy shouted “Frank” to him, and he turned and crossed the road to talk with us. I cannot remember the outcome but Andy and I made our point.


A life lived in public

I am not claiming any relationship with Frank Field who I’m sure knows nothing of me.

My point is that Frank Field listens to everyone and seems to want to help everyone, even the miscreants who stole the lead off the church roofs in Birkenhead. Field, like my father, had religion in his blood and like my Dad he sees public service as a duty and a pleasure.

He has made public he is dying and rather than wait, I want to thank Frank Field for my memories of him and for the work he has done for so many over the years. Death is coming to him now and he is not cowering. Death came in a more brutal way to a former parliamentary colleague last week.

In death as in life, public figures remind us of what we can do in our several ways. Frank Field’s life is a happy memory and general inspiration to me and I will mourn his passing.

Here is a song from Leonard Cohen, who I often think of when I see or hear of Frank Field. Leonard Cohen died 7th November 2016.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Thanks to Frank Field

  1. Heather says:

    Frank has been one of the few politicians I have been able to respect, in spite of him being of a different political persuasion to myself. What a kind, clever and brave man. Know that you will be remembered with love and respect Frank. Go gently….!

  2. Peter Tompkins says:

    Thanks for this. I have like you met him many times. He was my MP in Birkenhead and a role model local MP. He has done pension policy for so long and I interviewed him for The Actuary at the time of the Maxwell business which must be 30 years ago. His little office in Old Scotland Yard was more of a garrett. He enjoys music and I memorably met him at a concert at Wigmore Hall once when he confessed to having got the wrong tickets but still went to the concert! He was always on the ball at pensions events and I like to think of him and David Willetts and Steve Webb as part of the pensions policy furniture from across the spectrum. Most movingly of all was his campaigning against poverty and his work touring the country with fellow committee member Heidi Allen (by now my MP) in bringing attention to the dire challenges many face today. I don’t think he fits anywhere on the political spectrum but isn’t that refreshing? Not “I never thought of thinking for myself at all” as Gilbert and Sullivan put it.

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