Roy Hattersley

Roy Hattersley

Infobox Politician

honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable
name = Roy Hattersley
honorific-suffix =
Baron Hattersley, PC

birth_date = Birth date and age|df=yes|1932|12|28
birth_place = Sheffield, England, UK
office = Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
term_start = 11 June 1983
term_end = 11 April 1992
leader = Neil Kinnock
predecessor = Denis Healey
successor = Margaret Beckett
office2 = Shadow Home Secretary
term_start2 = 12 May 1987
term_end2 = 11 April 1992
predecessor2 = Gerald Kaufman
successor2 = Tony Blair
term_start3 = 4 November 1980
term_end3 = 11 June 1983
leader3 = Michael Foot
predecessor3 = Merlyn Rees
successor3 = Gerald Kaufman
office4 = Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
term_start4 = 11 June 1983
term_end4 = 12 May 1987
predecessor4 = Peter Shore
successor4 = John Smith
office5 = Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection
term_start5 = 10 September 1976
term_end5 = 4 May 1979
predecessor5 = Shirley Williams
successor5 = "Office Abolished"
alma_mater = University of Hull
occupation = Journalist
party = Labour Party

Roy Sydney George Hattersley, Baron Hattersley, PC, (born 28 December 1932) is a British Labour Party politician, published author and journalist from Wadsley, Sheffield, England. 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 for his local MP and city councillors beginning in 1945 at the age of 13. His mother, Enid Hattersley, became a city councillor and later was Lord Mayor of Sheffield (1981). He won a scholarship to Sheffield City Grammar School and went from there to study at the University of Hull. Originally having been accepted to read English at Leeds University, [ [,,2010899,00.html "Books for pleasure"] , "The Guardian", 12 February 2007. Retrieved on 13 February 2007.] 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. 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 Tory 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. Later Hattersley agreed to the forming of the Ulster Defence Regiment, as an attempt to create a non-sectarian replacement for the B-Specials.

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 Jenkins as deputy leader (10 April 1972) and eventually a permanent split within Labour. (It was the adoption of a referendum on the E.C. as shadow cabinet policy which caused Jenkins to resign.) For 'standing by' the party Hattersley was appointed Defence Spokesman 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 " [that] 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."

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 on repeated occasions 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. ["Private Eye" magazine, No. 1186 [p. 5] , 8 June 2007]

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.

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.

ports fan

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

atirical attacks

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 an exaggerated reference to Hattersley's mild speech impediment (he had trouble pronouncing sibilants). 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. He was booked several times to appear on the show, but after his repeated failures to honour the booking 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 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 Hattersley appear as the politician, holding a tub of lard.


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

* [ Buster's Diaries] official site
* [,5673,-44,00.html "Guardian" columns by Roy Hattersley]
* Roy Hattersley, "New Statesman", 10 May 2004, [ 'We should have made it clear that we too were modernisers']

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