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The times they are a changin’

16 February, 2017 — By John Gulliver

Martin Morton, former Tory leader on Camden Council

MARTIN Morton was his usual chipper, cheerful self when I rang him on Tuesday.

I knew he had retired a couple of years ago as chairman of Camden Civic Society but I thought he could shed light on why its current newsletter had shrunk to such a small size.

He hadn’t seen it but he assumed it reflected changing Camden – a borough whose amenity organisations had grown with the emergence of new neighbourhood forums. The society is no longer the only one in town.

He was in his usual incisive mood – knocking the coming disaster of the HS2 project, and the way the government is changing the planning rules to make it easier to extend their houses upwards and sometimes downwards.

But then the former Tory leader on Camden Council surprised me. “It’s my birthday today – I am 85!” he said.

I had rung shortly after his old friends Alan Greengross and his wife had had lunch at Martin’s home in Highgate. His wife had cooked the meal, he said – salmon, followed by duck, then his wife’s speciality chocolate mousse, and good wine.

It would have been a meeting of the kind of One Nation Tories we used to find at the Town Hall in the 1960s and 70s.

“Let me see,” he said. “I was born in 1932 and Alan [there was a pause here] and Alan, yes, Alan in 1929.”

Martin was always good at figures. He liked to be exact. Alan Greengross’s wife, Dame Sally, is still active in the Lords and continues to take an interest in Age UK, which she led for many years.

It is hard to draw parallels with the Camden Tories today but their leadership in the 60s and 70s under Martin and Alan… well, it was different somehow.


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