MP David Morris on his journey from pop to politics
- 2 March 2011
- From the section UK Politics
David Morris, elected a Conservative MP at last year's general election, remembers his colourful life as a pop musician, friend of Rick Astley and co-campaigner with David Hasselhoff.
It was the eighties. Rick Astley was in the prime of his career, enjoying himself as he gyrated around the Top of the Pops stage singing She Wants to Dance With Me.
But, as Rick smiled and charmed the audience, his keyboard player looked a little less comfortable.
The reason was simple: he wasn't actually a keyboard player.
The young man pretending to move his fingers to the tune (most of Top of the Pops in those days was mimed) was David Morris, a session guitarist working for the same record label who was drafted in to "perform" at the last minute.
More than 20 years later he cuts a far more confident figure as Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, a position he has held since last year's election.
"Rick Astley was a good singer, but I wasn't a keyboardist" he said. "It was a very interesting time being in the music industry.
"It was all good fun but it was many years ago. I was 21 years of age, knocking around with other 20 to 23-year-olds. I was a young lad, a young person. It's an experience, a memory."
To the relief of some and the dismay of others, the era dominated by music producers Mike Stock, Matthew Aitken and Pete Waterman - for whom both Mr Astley and Morris both worked - petered out as the 1990s dawned.
"When it all stopped was when the industry went from production pop to acid house," said Mr Morris. "I don't miss being in music at all.
"I'm now a divorcee with two sons, one of them taller than me. I'm comfortable here in Parliament as a middle-aged man in a middle-aged man's environment. It feels that I came to the right place at the right time."
There is still a little showbiz about 45-year-old Mr Morris, however.
A few weeks ago he brought one of his acquaintances from the pop days for a tour of the Palace of Westminster.
Baywatch and Knight Rider star, and soon-to-be Britain's Got Talent judge, David Hasselhoff enjoyed a look around before giving David Cameron something of a shock.
Theatre of dreams
The two virtually bumped into each other outside the building, after which the prime minister, who described himself as "bemused", posed for pictures with "the Hoff".
"It was surreal," said Mr Morris.
Even more surreal, perhaps, is that the Hoff gave his backing to a campaign to save Morecambe's historic Winter Gardens, a theatre which closed back in 1977.
Mr Morris portrays this as part of his "can-do" attitude towards improving the Lancashire resort, which has seen tough times. He is particularly keen to improve the town's transport links, campaigning for the M6 link road, for which the government has approved funding.
He is also pushing for a marina, to encourage more tourists with large disposable incomes to Lancashire's Fylde coast.
"Everyone would like to be in a position of influence and make a lot of changes in this world, "said Mr Morris. "That's how I am.
"I got in by a majority of just 866 votes at the last election and I've got to prove to people in my constituency that I'm working for them.
"If it was a safer seat I would still be doing what I'm doing now. We have to deliver."
Mr Morris likes to collar ministers in the queue for parliamentary votes to promote the case for getting more money to Morecambe and Lunesdale.
"I'm friends with everybody in here," he said. "One of the whips said I was the nicest guy in Parliament. I believe it's important to get along with people in order to get things done."
The MP's family has a tradition of seafaring and he spent some of his youth on the Fylde coast.
His father also worked as a harbourmaster in Hong Kong and director of marine affairs in the Bahamas, where his near-neighbours included Sean Connery and Liz Taylor.
When Mr Morris left school, aged "almost 16", he attempted to join the navy, but was rejected.
"I'm very shortsighted. I was going to go into the navy but I couldn't because of my eyes. So I went in a different direction and ended up becoming a hairdresser. Literally the day I left school I went into hairdressing and I was only intending to do it for a couple of days."
Mr Morris stayed in the business and worked as a stylist for Pierre Alexandre.
His links to Rick Astley go back further than his appearance on Top of the Pops.
They both joined the same band earlier in the 1980s.
"We went around the clubs just doing what we were doing", Mr Morris said. "Rick was the drummer - we knew him as Richard. I was the guitarist. I got on with him very well.
"His dad had a garden centre and we used to practise there."
Traipsing round the north-west of England eventually lost its allure.
Mr Morris left the band but, shortly afterwards, Mr Astley, who had moved from drumming to singing, was signed up by Stock, Aitken and Waterman's .
The future MP decided to give pop a go too, and was also taken on, as a guitarist and songwriter.
Among those he wrote for were Sonia, Brother Beyond and Jason Donovan - idols to a generation of teenagers brought up on TV shows like Neighbours and Going Live.
When he left the music business, Mr Morris set up his own salons, ending up with five in Lancashire.
Navy lark - at last
He was selected as the Conservative candidate for Blackpool South in 2001 and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire in 2005 but failed to win.
At last year's general election he beat Labour's Geraldine Smith - "a lovely woman" - to take Morecambe and Lunesdale.
To his evident excitement, he has joined the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme - more than 25 years after the navy turned him down.
"They've made me a lieutenant commander, the equivalent rank to the one my dad held," he said.
"It's great. Thinking about serving the country is probably what makes me want to be in Parliament.
"You have that feeling of duty even more strongly if you have lived away from the country, rather than growing up entirely in Britain.
"When I was knocking on doors in Morecambe, people told me that I would never get anything done. I asked them to give me a chance and they did that."