Roy Hattersley: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Right Honourable
 The Lord Hattersley 

In office
11 June 1983 – 11 April 1992
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by Denis Healey
Succeeded by Margaret Beckett

In office
12 May 1987 – 11 April 1992
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by Gerald Kaufman
Succeeded by Tony Blair
In office
4 November 1980 – 11 June 1983
Leader Michael Foot
Preceded by Merlyn Rees
Succeeded by Gerald Kaufman

In office
11 June 1983 – 12 May 1987
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by Peter Shore
Succeeded by John Smith

In office
10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979
Prime Minister James Callaghan
Preceded by Shirley Williams
Succeeded by Office Abolished

Born 28 December 1932 (1932-12-28) (age 77)
Sheffield, England, United Kingdom
Political party Labour
Alma mater University of Hull
Occupation Journalist

Roy Sydney George Hattersley, Baron Hattersley (born 28 December 1932) is a British Labour politician, author and journalist from Sheffield. He served as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1983 to 1992.


Early life

Roy Hattersley has been a socialist and Labour supporter from his youth, electioneering at the age of 12 for his local MP and city councillors, beginning in 1945. His own mother, Enid Hattersley, was a city councillor, and later, Lord Mayor of Sheffield (in 1981). Enid Hattersley kept the fact secret from her son (until he was in his 50s) that his father, who died an atheist, had been a Roman Catholic priest, Father Frederick Hattersley, and had renounced the Church to marry her.[1]


He won a scholarship to Sheffield City Grammar School and went from there to study at the University of Hull. Having been accepted to read English at the University of Leeds,[2] he was diverted into reading Economics when told by a Sheffield colleague of his mother that it was necessary for a political career.

At university Hattersley joined the Socialist Society (SocSoc) and was one of those responsible for changing its name to the "Labour Club" and affiliating it with the non-aligned International Union of Socialist Youth rather than the Soviet-backed International Union of Students. Hattersley became chairman of the new club and later treasurer, and he went on to chair the National Association of Labour Student Organisations. He also joined the executive of the IUSY.

Member of Parliament

After graduating Hattersley worked briefly for a Sheffield steelworks and then for two years with the Workers' Educational Association. He also married his wife Molly, who became a headteacher and educational administrator. In 1956 he was elected to the City Council as Labour representative for Crookesmoor and was, very briefly, a JP. On the Council he spent time as chairman of the Public Works Committee and then the Housing Committee.

His aim became a Westminster seat, and he was eventually selected for Labour to stand for election in the Sutton Coldfield constituency but lost to the Conservative Geoffrey Lloyd in 1959. He kept hunting for prospective candidacies, applying for twenty-five seats over three years. In 1963 he was chosen as the prospective parliamentary candidate for the multi-racial Birmingham Sparkbrook constituency (following a well-known local 'character', Jack Webster) and facing a Conservative majority of just under 900. On 16 October 1964 he was elected by 1,254 votes; he was to hold that seat for the next eight general elections.



At first he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Margaret Herbison, the Minister for Pensions. His maiden speech was on a housing subsidies bill. Still a Gaitskellite, he also joined the 1963 Club. He also wrote his first Endpiece column for The Spectator (the column moved to The Listener in 1979 and then to The Guardian).

Ministerial positions

Despite the support of Roy Jenkins and Tony Crosland he did not gain a ministerial position until 1967, joining Ray Gunter at the Ministry of Labour. He was reportedly disliked by Prime Minister Harold Wilson as a "Jenkinsite". The following year he was promoted to Under Secretary in the same ministry, now led by Barbara Castle, and become closely involved in implementing the unpopular Prices and Incomes Act. In 1969 after the fiasco over In Place of Strife he was promoted to deputy to Denis Healey, the Minister of Defence, following the death of Gerry Reynolds. One of his first jobs, while Healey was hospitalised, was to sign the Army Board Order – putting troops into Northern Ireland.

European Common Market

The Labour defeat of 1970 ended six years of Labour government. Hattersley was to hold his seat — often increasing his majority — but for the next twenty-six years as MP he was to spend twenty one in Opposition. He was appointed Deputy Foreign Affairs Spokesman, again under Healey, which involved a lot of foreign travel if nothing else. He also took a Visiting Fellowship to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. During this time he also became an enthusiastic supporter of the Common Market, his "drift to the political centre" put him at odds with much of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). He was one of the sixty-nine 'rebels' who voted with the Conservative government for entry into the EEC, which precipitated the resignation of Roy Jenkins as deputy leader (10 April 1972) and eventually a permanent split within Labour. (It was the adoption of a referendum on the EEC as shadow cabinet policy which caused Jenkins to resign.) For 'standing by' the party Hattersley was appointed Shadow Defence Secretary 1972 to 1973 and later Shadow Secretary of State for Education (the one government post he had always coveted).

Privy Council

In the Wilson government of 1974 he was appointed the (non-cabinet) Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and in 1975 he was appointed a Privy Councillor. Hattersley headed the British delegation to Reykjavik during the "Cod War", but was primarily given the task of renegotiating the terms of the UK's membership of the EEC. Following the resignation of Wilson he voted for Jim Callaghan in the ensuing leadership contest in order to stop Michael Foot (a man "[who] for all his virtues... could not become Prime Minister"). Under Callaghan he finally made it into the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection, a position he held until Labour's defeat in the 1979 General Election.

"Election campaigns all have distinct characteristics. For Labour, 1983 was ludicrous, and 1987 was desperate. At least 1979 was only dismal." In 1979 Hattersley was appointed to shadow Michael Heseltine as the Minister for the Environment, contending with him over the cuts in local government powers and the "right to buy". Following the rise of the 'hard left', as demonstrated at the 1980 Labour Conference, Callaghan resigned. The leadership contest was between Healey and Foot, with Hattersley organising Healey's campaign. "An electorate [the PLP] deranged by fear" elected Foot. Healey was made deputy leader and Hattersley was appointed Shadow Home Secretary, but felt that Foot was "a good man in the wrong job", "a baffling combination of the admirable and the absurd". Healey was challenged for his post in 1981, following electoral rule changes, by Tony Benn, retaining his post by 50.426% to 49.574%. Hattersley felt that "the Bennite alliance [although defeated] ... played a major part in keeping the Conservatives in power for almost twenty years". Hattersley also had very little regard for those Labour defectors who created the SDP in 1981. He helped found Labour Solidarity (1981-83) and credits the group with preventing the disintegration of the Party.

Deputy Leader

Following Labour's devastating defeat in the 1983 general election Foot declined to continue as leader. Hattersley stood in the subsequent leadership election, John Smith was his campaign manager and a young Peter Mandelson also impressed Hattersley. The other competitors were Neil Kinnock, Peter Shore and Eric Heffer. Hattersley had the support of most of the Shadow Cabinet, but the majority of the PLP, the constituency groups and the unions were in favour of Kinnock. In the final count Kinnock secured around three times as many votes as the second-place Hattersley.

As was standard practice at the time Hattersley became deputy leader. The combination was promoted at the time as being a "dream ticket" with Kinnock a representative of the left of the party and Hattersley of the right. Hattersley remained deputy for eight years and also Shadow Chancellor until 1987, when he moved back to Shadow Home Affairs.

Kinnock and Hattersley went to work to rehabilitate Labour after 1983. After the Miners' Strike they purged the Militant tendency and in 1988 they fought off a leadership challenge by Tony Benn and Eric Heffer. Defeat in 1987 was expected; by 1992 it was clear that the qualities that had brought Kinnock into power were making him unelectable, "the voters would not have him" - despite the fact that Labour had regularly topped opinion polls since 1989 and at one stage were shown to have a lead of up to 15 points over the Tories, though this lead was cut back and more than once overhauled by the Tories after the resignation of Margaret Thatcher as prime minister to make way for John Major in November 1990.

In the run-up to the 1992 election, Hattersley was present at the Labour Party rally in his native Sheffield and backed up Kinnock with the claim that "with every day that passes, Neil looks more and more like the real tenant of number 10 Downing Street". [2]

Backbenches and Retirement

They both resigned after the defeat in 1992. Hattersley supported his friend John Smith in the leadership contest. In 1993 Hattersley announced he would leave politics at the following general election. He was made a life peer as Baron Hattersley of Sparkbrook, in the County of West Midlands.

Hattersley was long regarded as being on the right of the party, but with New Labour in power he found himself criticising a Labour government from the left, even claiming that "Blair's Labour Party is not the Labour Party I joined". He has also mentioned repeatedly that he would be supporting Gordon Brown as leader. In June 2007, it was alleged that Blair's spin doctor Alastair Campbell had planned to reveal in the forthcoming publication of his diaries that Blair had once referred to Hattersley as a "Yorkshire cunt", the Prime Minister having apparently not appreciated Hattersley's criticism. Blair allegedly demanded that Campbell remove this from his book, along with many other recollections of the Prime Minister using foul language and expressing his extreme dislike of numerous other critics within the Labour Party. [3]

Hattersley is the author of many books including a novel and many biographies. In 1996 he was fined for an incident involving his dog, Buster, after it killed a goose in one of London's royal parks. He later wrote the "diary" of Buster, writing from the dog's perspective on the incident, in which it claimed to have acted in self-defence.[citation needed] In January 2010, after the death of Buster the previous October, Hattersley adopted a white bull-terrier dog called Jake from an animal rescue centre.[4]

In 2008, Hattersley appeared in a documentary on the DVD for the Doctor Who serial, Doctor Who and the Silurians, to discuss the political climate that existed at the time of making the serial.

He now writes a regular column, "In Search Of England", for the Daily Mail about different parts of the United Kingdom; it normally appears in the paper on Tuesdays.

Sport fan

Hattersley is a life-long supporter of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.


Hattersley was often attacked by the satirical magazine Private Eye for, among other things, his alleged equivocation over the Salman Rushdie Affair, in which the author was forced into hiding under threat of murder by Islamic extremists. The magazine alleged that Hattersley was more concerned about retaining the votes of his offended Muslim constituents and appeasing Muslim intolerance than defending freedom of speech.

More famously, he was lampooned by the satirical television programme Spitting Image. He was portrayed as bumbling and ineffectual, and, when it spoke, his latex puppet showered its surroundings with spittle in a wildly exaggerated reference to Hattersley's mild speech impediment (he had trouble pronouncing sibilants) which, however, never masked his highly-articulate delivery. Hattersley found the satirical puppet rather entertaining and saw himself as the show's "eponymous hero".

Hattersley was also mocked by the satirical television programme Have I Got News For You in 1993. After cancelling his booked appearance on the show for the third time, his place was taken by a tub of lard, to which the other participants addressed comments and questions. Hattersley was given an opportunity to appear again in the next series and duly turned up, taking in his stride the continuing jokes about the tub of lard. In 2001, as part of Comic Relief, there was a one-off panel quiz show called "Have I Got Buzzcocks All Over", a combination of HIGNFY, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and They Think It's All Over. One round called "Feel the Politician" had Roy Hattersley appear as the politician, holding a tub of lard.


  1. ^ Enid Hattersley's obituary
  2. ^ "Books for pleasure", The Guardian, 12 February 2007. Retrieved on 13 February 2007.
  3. ^ Private Eye magazine, No. 1186, p. 5, 8 June 2007
  4. ^ [1]Times, 21 Jan 2010

Partial bibliography

  • The Edwardians: Biography of the Edwardian Age (2004) ISBN 0-316-72537-4
  • The Life of John Wesley: A Brand from the Burning (2002) ISBN 978-0-385-50334-1
  • Buster's Diaries (1999) ISBN 0-7515-2917-6
  • Blood and Fire: William and Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army (1999) ISBN 0-316-85161-2
  • 50 Years on: Prejudiced History of Britain Since the War (1997) ISBN 0-316-87932-0
  • No Discouragement: An Autobiography (1996) ISBN 0-333-64957-5
  • Who Goes Home?: Scenes from a Political Life (1995) ISBN 0-316-87669-0
  • Between Ourselves (1994) ISBN 0-330-32574-4
  • Skylark's Song (1993) ISBN 0-333-55608-9
  • In That Quiet Earth (1993) ISBN 0-330-32303-2
  • The Maker's Mark (1990) ISBN 0-333-47032-X
  • Choose Freedom: Future of Democratic Socialism (1987) ISBN 0-14-010494-1
  • A Yorkshire Boyhood (1983) ISBN 0-7011-2613-2
  • Press Gang (1983) ISBN 0-86051-205-3
  • Goodbye to Yorkshire (1976) ISBN 0-575-02201-9

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Leslie Seymour
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Sparkbrook
Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
Shirley Williams
Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection
1976 – 1979
Office abolished
Preceded by
Merlyn Rees
Shadow Home Secretary
1980 – 1983
Succeeded by
Gerald Kaufman
Preceded by
Peter Shore
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
1983 – 1987
Succeeded by
John Smith
Preceded by
Gerald Kaufman
Shadow Home Secretary
1987 – 1992
Succeeded by
Tony Blair
Party political offices
Preceded by
Denis Healey
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
1983 – 1992
Succeeded by
Margaret Beckett


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Roy Sydney George Hattersley, Baron Hattersley (born 28 December 1932) is a British Labour politician and journalist. He was born in Sheffield and elected as MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook in 1964, serving until 1997. Hattersley served in the cabinets of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, and was Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1983 to 1992 under Neil Kinnock. Hattersley was on the right of the party during his active career but has since been increasingly critical of Tony Blair. He is an active journalist, writing columns for The Guardian and the Daily Mail.


  • Politicians, quite rightly, are not surrounded by mystique. Doctors, quite wrongly, too often are.
  • To a certain sort of half-wit, obscenities are testosterone turned into the spoken word.


  • Until Roy Hattersley said he would shoot himself if I became prime minister, I had not been able to see any possible advantage in standing.
    • John Reid in his speech to the Labour Party conference in Manchester, 28 September 2006.

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