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John Ernest Silkin, PC (18 March 1923 – 26 April 1987) was an English Labour politician and solicitor.

He was the third son of Lewis Silkin, 1st Baron Silkin, and a younger brother of Samuel Silkin, Baron Silkin of Dulwich. He was educated at Dulwich College, the University of Wales, and Trinity Hall at the University of Cambridge. Silkin served in the Royal Navy (1942-1946). He was commissioned as a sub-Lieutenant, R.N.V.R. in 1943, serving in East Indies Fleet, Eastern Fleet and British Pacific Fleet aboard HMS George V and HMS Formidable, and ashore at Anderson, Ceylon (FECB). He was promoted to Lieutenant, R.N.V.R. He was demobilised in 1946 and returned to Cambridge.

Silkin was admitted as a solicitor in 1950 and worked for his father's law practice in London.

He contested the seat of St Marylebone at the General Election for the Labour Party in 1950, West Woolwich in 1951 and South Nottingham in 1959. He served as a councillor in the Metropolitan Borough of St Marylebone (1962-1963) and was elected to the House of Commons for the first time in July 1963. He served as the Labour Member of Parliament for Deptford (1963-1974) and for Lewisham, Deptford (1974-1987).

He was elected to the Privy Council in 1966. He served as a Government Chief Whip (1966-1969) and as the deputy leader of the House of Commons (1968-1969). He was appointed as the Minister of Public Buildings and Works (1969-1970) and the Minister for Planning and Local Government in the Department for the Environment (1974-1976). He served as the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1976-1979).

In opposition, Silkin was an unsuccessful candidate in the 1980 Labour leadership election following the resignation of James Callaghan. He served as Opposition Spokesman on Industry (1979-1980), Shadow Leader of the House of Commons (1980-1983), Shadow Defence Secretary (1981-1983) and the Dairy Industry Arbitrator (1986-1987).

He was married to the actress Rosamund John from 1950 until his early death in 1987. Their son Rory L.F. Silkin was born in 1954.

Silkin's publication Changing Battlefields: The Challenge to the Labour Party appeared posthumously. His papers were given to the Churchill Archives Centre by his widow in February 1990. These cover his Parliamentary and Ministerial career, as well as his other public interests, such as the Channel Tunnel, the European Economic Community and the dairy industry. There is material of particular interest concerning his relationship with his Constituency Labour Party in Deptford and on the Labour Party Leadership and Deputy Leadership Elections in 1980 and 1983.

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Leslie Plummer
Member of Parliament for Deptford
1963–1974
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Lewisham Deptford
1974–1987
Succeeded by
Joan Ruddock
Political offices
Preceded by
Sydney Irving
Treasurer of the Household
1966
Succeeded by
Charles Grey
Preceded by
Ted Short
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
1966–1969
Succeeded by
Bob Mellish
Preceded by
Bob Mellish
Minister of Public Buildings and Works
1969-1970
Succeeded by
Julian Amery
Preceded by
Fred Peart
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
1976-1979
Succeeded by
Peter Walker
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