A Dewsbury Great.
One of a select group of individuals born, bred or living in Dewsbury who have made their mark on their town and country. The Dewsbury Greats have featured in various exhibitions and publications since they were first researched and published in 1992.
Eastborough boy who was knighted for his service to politics
DEWSBURY people, no matter what their politics. have always followed with interest the career of one of their most famous sons — Sir Marcus Fox MP. former vice- chairman of the Conservative Party and one of the most highly respected politicians in Britain.
The boy from Eastborough who had a passion for politics was the local boy who made-good in a big way. He was awarded an MBE in 1983. in 1979 won a place in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s top team as Under-
Secretary at the Department of the Environment, and was knighted in 1986.
During his many years in Parliament. Sir Marcus has earned a reputation for being one of the country's most outspoken politicians and in 1992 was appointed chairman of the powerful 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers.
A former pupil of Eastborough School and later Wheelwright Grammar School, the young Marcus Fox lived in Stoneyhurst Avenue. Crackenedge Lane. He left the grammar school at 16 and became a bank clerk at Midland Bank along with his twin sister. Marcia. He was later to enter the world of business and local politics which would change his life and bring him in contact with some of the most famous people in the land
SIR Marcus first became involved in politics in 1916 when he joined Dewsbury Young Conservatives, eventually becoming chairman. But his political career did not start in earnest until 1956 when he was successful in winning a seat on the old Dewsbury Borough Town Council as a Municipal Association councillor — a position he held for seven years.
It took another 14 years of active work for the Conservatives and disappointing defeats in two General Elections before being elected MP for Shipley in 1970.
His failure to win Dewsbury for the Tories in the 1959 General Election after Labour MP William Paling retired was a bitter disappointment — but he put up a good fight and came within 3,700 votes of becoming the town’s first Tory MP. The seat was won back by Labour.
Undeterred, the young Marcus tried in 1966 in Huddersfield West but again lost. In 1970 it was a case of third time lucky when he stood for Shipley.
SIR Marcus never sought any short cuts in his political career, confident that he could make an impact on the national scene.
"I felt I had something to give which I thought was lacking," he recalled.
"I have been anxious to use whatever talents I have got to the best advantage of the party I serve."
He feels he knows what makes people tick and understands their problems and he believes very much that the individual matters.
"I am a communicator and I don't see my role as a Parliamentary legislator. I enjoy communicating with people."
On entering the Commons, Sir Marcus became secretary of the Conservative Party's Transport Committee until 1972 when he was appointed an assistant Whip.
Between 1971 and 1976 he was an additional opposition spokesman on the environment, housing and transport.
In 1976 Margaret Thatcher appointed him vice-chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for candidates.
He won a place in her top team in 1979 when she made him an Under Secretary at the Department of the Environment.
A former sidesman at St Mark’s Church, Dewsbury, Marcus Fox MP never forgot his home town or his working-class roots.
Throughout his successful career, spanning more than 10 years, he always gave thanks to the people of Dewsbury for supporting and encouraging him in his political career.
He believes that his background in Dewsbury, and the fact that his political career had been spent in an industrial area, stood him in good stead on the turbulent road to national politics.
“My father was unemployed for some time in the 1930s and like so many other people at that time, we knew what it was like to go short of things,” he recalled.
Sir Marcus still visits Dewsbury and is delighted when old schoolfriends and neighbours come up to him in the street. “What I like about people from this area is the obvious satisfaction they get from my progress — even if they don’t support my political views.”
Sir Marcus has many happy memories of his schooldays in Dewsbury and remembers Eastborough School, which was just round the comer from his home, with great affection. “It was a marvellous school — they didn’t stand any nonsense," he recalled. "We had a great respect for the teachers — they made us learn.”
Sir Marcus also enjoyed Ins days at Wheelwright Grammar School. “I loved the subjects I was good at - English history and maths — but the only time I won a prize was in my last year when I got first prize for history. I was very proud to win that prize.”
In 1972 he won top marks again when he topped the list for attendances of MPs in Parliament. He was there for 216 out of 221 division votes, two more than his nearest rival and many ahead of the majority.