In the news

September 18, 1998

Described as one of Sheffield's big-wig Labour MPs by a local councillor, Richard "Dick" Caborn, minister of state for the regions, regeneration and planning, is not an acolyte of the other great Sheffield MP, David Blunkett. Put simply, Mr Caborn supports Sheffield United and Mr Blunkett supports Sheffield Wednesday.

Mr Caborn, who addressed the Committee of Vice-Chancellors this week, led John Prescott's successful campaign for deputy leader in April 1992, and he was rewarded last year with a post in the new Ministry of the Environment, Transport and Regions.

Since his appointment, Mr Caborn's most serious battle has been a ministerial turf war over his enthusiasm for regional government. It led to a fight with, among others, education secretary Blunkett over control of the training and enterprise councils. Mr Caborn was said to have been "rolled over" in cabinet committees by ministers unwilling to relinquish powers to the strong regional bodies envisaged by Mr Prescott.

Mr Caborn was accused of "bleating about the bush" when he announced he was considering planning regulations on some types of fast-growing hedges - a suggestion that was met with cross-party backing for a possible crime of hedge-growing.

In his work, Mr Caborn has a reputation for staying true to his principles and to his "firm" left tendencies. He was a trade union official at Firth Brown Sheffield, a founding member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and a backer of the miners in their 1984 strike. His father was a Sheffield communist trade union official. Mr Caborn, 54 and married with two children, is Sheffield born and bred. He was elected to Sheffield Central in 1983, and has spent three years chairing the trade and industry select committee.

He is described as a "no-frills" type of man, whose measure can be judged by the details of his Who's Who entry. It reads "Club: Carlton Working Men's (Sheffield)."

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