Ernest Marples ..the rich mans Ronnie Briggs

10 Mar

I woke up this morning thinking about writing something on Ernest Marples. I know this thought would make an awful blues song , what rhymes with Marples ? I also know this may seem strange , but having looked at him recently I think he is one of the more overlooked corrupt politicians. Why his name is not a byword for corruption is interesting in itself.

Then I saw Lewis Baston had posted a defence of him only several days ago

I’m not sure of Baston is pulling our collective legs , like a centipede physiotherapist. However for Baston , Marples is a rogue. A rogue who had impact. A fancy dresser , though not of the pirate costume variety , more of the orange shoe variety. A Minister who achieved lots. And he did. Premium bonds , Postcodes, traffic wardens , housing expansion , road expansion. He was Minister for all those. However I think whoever was Minister at that time , when transport boomed on the roads would have followed a similar path( ha ha ) as he did.

So why corrupt. Well leaving aside his use of prostitutes as a moral issue, he used his skills as Minister of road building at the same time as owning 80% of Marples Ridgeway a construction company. They were awarded many contracts during this period. Some were even not the most economical for the taxpayer. He did eventually sell the shares to his wife (!). He eventually lived out his life in Monaco , in a chateux. Nice. Well yes but he had extracted a couple of million pounds from the business and ran away before the Inland Revenue could seize his assets. Baston calls this an ” irregularity ” others have called it ” Tax Fraud”.

While he sat in exile , out of reach of the authorities , with his money earned from dubious practices he struck me as a Ronnie Biggs type character. Maybe he is Bastons loveable rogue , but not one I would have slapped on the back. And as he sat in exile his tenants in London slum properties sat in rather less luxury wondering what was to happen to them.

Having said that if Lewis Baston really is writing a book about him I would love to read it !!

The obligatory Transport Minister picture.


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