Island Life Magazine Ltd February/March 2007 - Page 29

JOHN HANNAM Craig Douglas. What a double for Pan Close! They also both sang in Barton Boys Choir, later Priory Boys Choir Morris is so proud to be an Islander and during his 15 year reign as Council Leader he obtained so much publicity for the Isle of Wight. Much of it was to come from the Ecu saga which obtained worldwide publicity. “It was really a marketing idea we dreamed up to get publicity for the Island but there was a serious content to some of it,” reflected Morris. He openly admits the top job created so much stress but admits much of it was his own doing. “I was never prepared to get my head down. There was no point being there if you were not going to do something. “I did go over the top at times and you can start believing your own script. Ego takes over and sometimes you can forget where you come from,” admitted Morris. He did become a legend and visiting comedy stars quickly found out that if you mentioned Morris Barton you instantly got roars of approval. Both Jasper Carrott and Jo Brand were prime examples. Obviously, Morris loved every minute of it. I’m afraid I can’t reveal the source who supplied the comics with suitable material For many of us who have known Morris Barton since we rubbed shoulders at local pop gigs by the Cherokees and Shamrocks, his company is still as enjoyable as ever. He has maintained lifelong friendships with many people. When he first joined the County Press, as a printer, he was an apprentice to my late father, Roy. Dad was a staunch Labour supporter and young Morris was his blue (perhaps that should be red) eyed boy Morris Barton joined the Labour Party in 1959 and that was down to Hugh Gaitskell. Six years earlier he had received a severe reprimand from his school headmaster. “At school there was a very left wing faction that saw USSR as the guardian of world peace and we decided, in a show of solidarity, to take time off from school to go and meet the Russian warships as they came into Portsmouth. We got into even more trouble with the head for red stars on our lapels.” Thirty seven years later he was an honoured civic guest in the Kremlin, hosted by a Soviet minister. He was also in Russia on the eve of the coup against Gorbachev. Morris Barton has come a long way since he won a place on the old Newport Borough Council back in 1969. It was not a landslide victory – more like twelve votes. With Labour holding eleven of the twelve seats there were several committee chairman jobs up for grabs. He was given the chair of the planning group and sent on a two week crash course to - life Morris Barton in 1996 Pictured receiving his OBE with wife Marcia learn as much as he could. Morris Barton certainly didn’t go into politics for the money. For many years he also had a day job and had to take time off. Since Morris left local politics the Labour government has brought in a scheme to pay councillors. These days he runs his own consultancy business which specialises in political advice and pre-planning. Morris has always loved sport and by tradition the Barton family has supported Portsmouth. Two of his grandsons have kept up the tradition but Grand-dad Barton has brought a little disgrace to the family – he follows Southampton. Will Morris ever return to the Island’s local government scene? At present he’s an East Cowes town councillor and out of the political scene. “I could be back. I wouldn’t rule it out. I have now reached the third stage of my life,” teased Morris. I know his wonderfully supportive wife, Marcia, a real gem, would be highly delighted. I have the feeling she would not be alone. We all know thatI wouldn’t the Island a lotI have less crime than the “I could be back. rulehas it out. now reached the third stage of my life.” mainland, that’s why most of us chose to move here! Island Life - www.isleofwight.net 29