Remembering Ted Short, Lord Glenamara

Ted_Short.jpgBaroness Jan Royall of Blaisdon is Labour's Shadow Leader of the House of Lords

Lord Glenamara, Ted Short, died on 4th May at the great age of 99. His funeral took place earlier this week in Consett, County Durham.

Ted was a good friend and comrade to many members of the Labour Group in the Lords.  Whilst I did not know him well, like so many in the Labour Movement, I held him in the highest esteem.

His career started as a teacher and he then served as a captain in the Durham Light Infantry in the Second World War. He joined the Labour Party in 1942 when he was on active service and on demobilisation he soon became a Councillor. After the War he became head of a secondary modern school in Blyth and was then elected to Parliament for Newcastle Central in 1951.  It is extraordinary to think that he joined the Parliamentary Labour Party when Clem Attlee was Leader, and that he was appointed an Opposition Whip by Hugh Gaitskell.

Ted lived his political life through turbulent times.  He was a Whip at a time marked by what Hugh Dalton called “hatred and love of hatred”, and as Government Chief Whip between 1964 and 1966 Ted helped to keep the Wilson Government afloat with a majority of just four.  He went on to become Postmaster General and Education Secretary where he devoted himself to the comprehensive programme, believing the eleven plus to be a cruel waste of potential talent.  

Back in Opposition he became Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.  He returned to Government as leader of the Commons, and was Lord President of the Council for two years from 1974. In this role he enabled the referendum on our continued membership of what is now the European Union to take place and was largely responsible for the parliamentary plans to provide elected assemblies for Scotland and Wales. Plans that would take another Labour government, a generation later, to turn into reality.

We have much to thank Ted for, but in Opposition in the Commons Labour could not be the effective force that we now are without the “Short Money” – the provision of funds for Opposition parties that he introduced in 1975. When Ted left the Commons in 1976 he became Chairman of Cable and Wireless and was appointed to the Lords in 1977 where he was a regular attendee for many years. 

For me, the death of Ted Short, Lord Glenamara, severs an important link with the history of our movement. He will be greatly missed by friends and family alike.

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