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Derek Hatton (born 17 January 1948 in Liverpool) is a former politician, broadcaster, property developer, businessman and after-dinner speaker. He gained national prominence as a local politician in Liverpool during the 1980s, where he was Deputy Leader of the City Council and a member of the Trotskyist Militant group, often associated in the media with Labour's so-called loony left.
Hatton attended the Liverpool Institute for Boys from 1959 to 1964. His subsequent academic success was limited, but he enjoyed sports and appeared on stage as Gratiano in a school production of The Merchant of Venice with the future-theatre producer Bill Kenwright CBE.
After becoming a fireman by occupation, Hatton joined the Labour Party and Militant, a Trotskyist organisation then pursuing entryist tactics within the Labour Party. As Deputy Leader of Liverpool City Council from 1983, Hatton was the most vocal and prominent member of the Council's leadership. The actual Leader of the Council, John Hamilton, was a quietly-spoken and much admired Liverpudlian local politician and was held in great stead by the Labour Liverpool Party, but was ineffectual in curbing Militant.
Hatton joined the rate-capping rebellion in 1985 under which the Council refused to make a rate increase. In June, the Council changed tactics and set an illegal "deficit budget" which committed the Council to spend £30 million in excess of its income, claiming that the excess represented grant "stolen" by central government. Once adopted by the Liverpool District Labour Party and a broad coalition of 49 Councillors on the Liverpool City Council (reduced to 47 by the deaths of two Councillors), this policy catapulted Hatton and the City Council into massive media attention and conflict with the then-Conservative Government.
Hatton was expelled from the Labour Party in 1986 for belonging to Militant, which Hatton had argued was a legitimate Marxist tendency within the Labour Party, but the National Executive Committee of the Party voted to expel Hatton by 12 votes to 6. The Militant organisation had contravened the party's constitution, it was argued. Hatton claims that the faults of his time in office were the result of the policy of the Thatcher Government, and that the UK Labour Party should have supported the Council's demand for the "return" of the £30 million "stolen" from the Council as a result of unfairly reduced government rate support grants for Liverpool.
After his expulsion from the Labour Party, Hatton pursued a career in the media, presenting a show on radio station Talk Sport, and appearing on such television programmes as Have I Got News for You, where he was given a particularly rough ride by regular panellist Paul Merton, who mocked his apparent aspiration to be a comedian. Hatton even began modelling menswear; he had worked in a men's tailoring shop as a teenager, and was known during his time as a politician for his well-tailored suits.
Hatton presented the lunchtime phone-in on 105.4 Century FM when it launched in 1998, titled "The Degsy Debate". The BBC Two fly-on-the-wall documentary Trouble at the Top followed the station's launch, and Hatton's training. In the 1990s, he worked as Talk Radio's morning phone-in presenter. In 1996, he was the subject of a BBC documentary, My Brilliant Career.
It was reported in the Liverpool Daily Post in May 2007 that Hatton had recently rejoined the Labour Party and intended to seek selection as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in the North West. Hatton made clear that he is no longer a Trotskyist, but maintains that he remains firmly on the Left of the Party, expressing his belief that Labour has to abandon New Labour ideology (or "neo-Tory", as Hatton puts it) and return to its traditional values.
In an October 2008 interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Hatton revealed that he has become a capitalist running a property company in Cyprus and drives a £60,000 Range Rover. He justifies his change in attitude as "My days in politics were a very long time ago and I lost interest in it after I was expelled from the city council."
Hatton gave another interview to the Liverpool Daily Post in December 2008 in which he reasserted his intention to seek selection as a Parliamentary Labour candidate for one of the Liverpool constituencies (or failing that, another North West constituency) at some point in the future. Hatton stated that he may challenge "one of the neo-Tory types currently representing Liverpool, like Maria Eagle maybe".