Leading Suffolk Labour figure Mick Cornish spent a lifetime in politics

Mick Cornish

Mick Cornish from his European Election leaflet in 1989. - Credit: Labour Party

One of the best-known figures in the Labour Party in Suffolk has died after a lifetime of political activity.

"Old Lefty" Mick Cornish from Great Cornard near Sudbury fought five parliamentary elections in the 1960s and 70s, stood as Labour candidate in the 1989 European Election, and was leader of the Labour Group on Suffolk County Council in the 1980s.

He was born at Trimley, near Felixstowe, in 1937 and in 1945 helped his father who was a railway signaller deliver Labour Party leaflets for the general election which saw Clement Atlee sweep to power.

After attending Cambridge University and teacher training at Aberystwyth in Wales, he returned to Suffolk to teach at Sudbury and then taught at Manningtree in Essex.

He fought the Saffron Walden parliamentary seat in 1964 general election and a by-election the following year. In 1966 he came within 400 votes of defeating Jim Prior in Lowestoft and in 1974 he fought the Holland with Boston seat in Lincolnshire in both general elections.


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Mr Cornish formed his own advertising agency which he ran alongside his political career and was a long-serving member of Great Cornard Parish Council.

After the European election, Mr Cornish's wife Babs got a job on Merseyside and the family moved there where he became a parish clerk and secretary of the Merseyside Association of Local Councils.

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The couple later returned to Suffolk and Mr Cornish became a director of the East of England Co-op.

Fellow Labour councillor Tony Bavington, who was a member of Babergh for more than 30 years, described Mr Cornish as a "mentor". 

He had arranged for Mr Cornish to get an award to mark his 50 years of work for the Labour Party which he received from shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth in 2015.

Mr Bavington said: "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. I am shocked and saddened by his death. We will not see his like again."

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