Roy Hattersley

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Person.png Lord Hattersley   Powerbase SourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(Politician, Journalist)
Roy Hattersley.jpg
BornRoy Sydney George Hattersley
Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Alma materUniversity of Hull
Member ofThe Other Club
UK politician. 1970 Bilderberg

Employment.png Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

In office
2 October 1983 - 18 July 1992
BossNeil Kinnock
Preceded byDenis Healey
Succeeded byMargaret Beckett

Employment.png Shadow Home Secretary Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
13 July 1987 - 25 July 1992

Employment.png Shadow Home Secretary Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
4 November 1980 - 31 October 1983
Preceded byMerlyn Rees

Employment.png Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
31 October 1983 - 18 July 1987
DeputyGordon Brown
Preceded byPeter Shore

Employment.png Shadow Secretary of State for Environment

In office
14 July 1979 - 4 November 1980

Employment.png Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

In office
7 March 1974 - 10 September 1976
Succeeded byDavid Owen

Employment.png UK/Minister of Defence for Administration

In office
15 July 1969 - 19 June 1970

Employment.png Under-Secretary of State for Employment

In office
6 April 1968 - 15 July 1969

Roy Hattersley, Baron Hattersley of Sparkbrook is a British Labour politician, author and journalist from Sheffield. He was MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook for 33 years from 1964 to 1997 and served as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1983 to 1992.

In August 2016, Lord Hattersley was invited to speak at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and appeared on the festival stage sporting a white suit and beard. The veteran Labour ‘moderate’ was quick to point out that his facial hair was “not a tribute beard” to Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, but told the audience that he was “desperate for a change of leadership” and was backing for Owen Smith. However, Hattersley admitted to never having met the man who was hoping to replace Corbyn and asserted there were half a dozen or so backbench MPs who would be capable of taking Labour back to power in the way Harold Wilson did after years in the political wilderness.[1]

Ministerial positions

Roy Hattersley, despite the support of Roy Jenkins and Tony Crosland, did not gain a ministerial position until 1967, when he joined 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 1966. 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 in the 1970 General Election 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, and 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 that 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 Harold Wilson government of 1974 he was appointed the (non-cabinet) Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and in the 1975 New Year Honours, he was sworn of the Privy Council.[2] Hattersley headed the British delegation to Reykjavik during the Cod Wars, 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.

In 1979 he 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 Scheme. Following the rise of the hard left, as demonstrated at the 1980 Labour Conference, Callaghan resigned. The leadership contest was between Healey and Michael 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 Social Democratic Party 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 1983 leadership election, John Smith was his campaign manager and a young Peter Mandelson 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 was elected 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 Secretary.[3]

Kinnock and Hattersley attempted to rehabilitate Labour after 1983. After the Miners' Strike they resumed expelling members of the entryist Militant group whose activities, organisation and politics had earlier been found to contravene the Labour Party's constitution. In the 1988 deputy leadership election, they fought off a leadership challenge by Tony Benn, Eric Heffer, and John Prescott. Defeat in 1987 was expected; by 1992 it was much more even. Labour had regularly topped opinion polls since 1989 and at one stage had a lead of up to 15 points over the Tories, though this 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 backing Kinnock with the claim that "with every day that passes, Neil looks more and more like the real tenant of number 10 Downing Street".[4]

Backbenches and retirement

The 1992 General Election was held on 9 April 1992, but saw Labour again defeated by the Conservatives. Kinnock announced his resignation as party leader on 13 April, and on the same day Hattersley announced his intention to resign from the deputy leadership of the party, with the intention of carrying on in their roles until the new leadership was elected that summer.[5]

Hattersley supported his friend John Smith in the 1992 leadership contest, which Smith won in July that year. In 1993 Hattersley announced he would leave politics at the following 1997 General Election. He was made a life peer as Baron Hattersley of Sparkbrook in the West Midlands on 24 November 1997.[6]

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 mentioned repeatedly that he would be supporting Gordon Brown as leader.[7]


Event Participated in

Bilderberg/197017 April 197019 April 1970Switzerland
Hotel Quellenhof
Bad Ragaz
the 19th Bilderberg meeting, in Switzerland.