July 8, 2013, by Zoë Goodwin

Picturing Politics: Eric Forth and his brightly coloured ties

Picturing Politics, a blog produced by the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham, is host to a series of audio and video clips featuring academics commenting on the political significance of a diverse range of images.

The late Conservative MP Eric Forth was known for his flamboyant style and, in particular, his brightly coloured ties. In the sixth post in the Picturing Politics series Mark Stuart models one of Eric Forth’s ties and explains their significant role in his contribution to the Conservative Party.

Mark Stuart introduces the politics behind Eric Forth’s career, describing his unusual dress sense as symbolic of political purity on the right of the Conservative Party.

But it did not stop at brightly coloured ties; Forth’s second wife Carroll Goff infamously dressed him in colourful attire with trademark sideburns and chunky gold jewellery, in the style of his hero Elvis Presley.

Mark Stuart explains that Forth’s quirky fashion taste was not always purely aesthetic.  In May 1989 it filtered into his politics when he purchased three dozen blue ties with Margaret Thatcher’s signature, to sell to other right wing MPs; furthering his personal role in defending Thatcherism.

Forth’s commitment to Margaret Thatcher was also shown through co-founding the ‘No Turning Back Group,’ designed to defend Thatcher’s free market policies.

Stuart asserts that the significance of Forth’s ties became much more important after he sadly died in 2006. His widow Carroll gave the ‘No Turning Back Group’ a stock of his ties, and started the annual Eric Forth Memorial Award for MPs who have done the most to carry on Forth’s work. Winner Phillip Davies said, “Winning the award was one of the most special moments of my life in politics.”

Mark Stuart’s biography of Eric Forth will be published in 2016 to mark the ten year anniversary of his death. In his memory, Stuart remarks that the dress code to the book launch will be strictly no admission without a brightly coloured tie!

Listen to the full audio clip here.

Posted in Politics