Records of Roy Sydney George Hattersley, Lord Hattersley of Sparkbrook

Scope and Content

Material relating to the Labour Solidarity Campaign (1981-1988) and speeches and other papers of Roy Hattersley. Note: The number of letters written by each individual correspondent is indicated in brackets after their name, for example: Margaret Thatcher (3). Catalogue was appraised and renumbered Jun 2010, further additions from 2011 accession added August 2013

Administrative / Biographical History

Roy Sydney George Hattersley was born 28 December 1932 in Sheffield. His mother, Enid, was a major political figure for the Labour party in Sheffield. She was elected on to the City Council in 1960 and spent 20 years on its Libraries and Arts Committee. His father, Frederick, known as Roy, was also politically active working on the Council and was chairman of the council's Health Committee.

He was educated at Sheffield Grammar School and later to Hull University, where he attained a BSc in Economics. He then went on to be active in Sheffield politics with all three members of the family serving on the Council at the same time. Hattersley worked for a brief time for a Sheffield steelworks and then for the Workers' Educational Association. In 1956 he was elected to the City Council as Labour representative for Crookesmoor where he spent time as chairman of the Public Works Committee and then the Housing Committee. He was selected to stand for Labour in the Sutton Coldfield constituency election in 1959, but lost. He applied for twenty five prospective candidacies in three years and in 1963 was chosen for Sparkbrook in central Birmingham which he won in 1964.

At first he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Margaret Herbison, the Minister for Pensions with his maiden speech being on a housing subsidies bill. He did not gain a ministerial position until 1967, joining Ray Gunter at the Ministry of Labour. The following year he was promoted to Under Secretary in the same ministry, which was led by Barbara Castle. He became closely involved in implementing the Prices and Incomes Act. In 1969 he was promoted as deputy to Denis Healey, the Minister of Defence. One of his first jobs, while Healey was hospitalised, was to sign the Army Board Order - putting troops into Northern Ireland.

He was appointed Deputy Foreign Affairs Spokesman, under Healey again, which involved a lot of foreign travel. 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. He was one of the sixty-nine 'rebels' who voted with the Conservative government for entry into the European Economic Community. This led to a permanent split within Labour, but Hattersley remained with the party and was rewarded with the appointment to Shadow Defence Secretary in 1972 and later Shadow Secretary of State for Education. Hattersley was a strong advocate of comprehensive education and was opposed to private education. In 1976 James Callaghan promoted him to the Cabinet with responsibility for prices and consumer affairs. Labour's defeat in 1979 saw an end to Hattersley's ministerial career.

He became Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in 1983 following defeat by Neil Kinnock for the Leadership role. Between 1983 and 1987 he was the party's shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. He then moved to be the shadow Home Secretary and worked with Kinnock to bring Labour back into the mainstream, dropping a number of its left-wing policies. Following the fourth successive election defeat Hattersley stood down from the deputy leadership in 1992 and became a backbencher again. Labour's further movement to the middle ground under Tony Blair provoked criticism from Hattersley and in 1997 he stood down as an MP, becoming a life peer as Baron Hattersley of Sparkbrook, in the County of West Midlands.

Hattersley has moved on to become an author and journalist. He has written a number of novels and several biographies on religious topics and the Edwardian era, including the biography of Lloyd George. He has written for the Daily Mail and The Spectator. In 2003 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

A large part of this collection consists of records from the Labour Solidarity Campaign (LSC). It was established after the special Labour Party conference held at Wembley in February 1981 and was intended to maintain what were described as the 'traditional values and ideals of a democratic Labour Party', to prevent the loss of support to the newly-established Social Democratic Party, and to counter the activities of the 'undemocratic Left' within the Party. Its joint chairmen were Roy Hattersley and Peter Shore with, initially, Ken Woolmer MP as secretary and Austin Mitchell MP as Treasurer. Supporters included figures such as Dennis Healey, Sam Silkin, Jack Ashley, John Smith, Gwynneth Dunwoody and Merlyn Rees. In practical terms the group aimed to moderate the effects of the introduction of re-selection for MPs, and of the electoral college for the selection of the Party leader, preferring one-member one-vote. The group, which included well over 100 MPs amongst its membership, supported Dennis Healey as Deputy Leader, securing a narrow victory over Tony Benn in 1981, and also the Neil Kinnock/Roy Hattersley leadership ticket after the departure of Michael Foot and Dennis Healey. The group was discontinued in mid-1988 by which time it was considered to have secured most of its original objectives.


U DRH/1 Records of the Labour Solidarity Campaign, 1981 - 1988

U DRH/2 Speeches, 1973-1997

U DRH/3 Papers of Roy Hattersley, 1970s - 1997

Access Information

Some of the records in this collection contain sensitive personal information. In accordance with data protection legislation, records containing sensitive personal information are not available for public inspection for 75 years if the information relates to adults, or 100 years if the information relates to children. In some circumstances access may be granted for research purposes. To request access or for further information please contact

Access to all other material will be granted to any accredited reader.

Other Finding Aids

Entry on Labour Solidarity Campaign in Pressure group archives subject guide

Conditions Governing Use

Roy Hattersley

Custodial History

Donated by Roy Hattersley, January 1997; additional records received March 2006 and June 2011

Related Material

The History Centre holds the records of a number of MPs who were contemporaries of Roy Hattersley:

Papers of Sir Patrick Cormack MP [U DPK]

Papers of Peter Crampton MP [U DCN]

Papers of Eric Lubbock MP, 4th Baron Avebury [U DML]

Papers of J. Kevin McNamara MP [U DMC]

Papers of Austin Mitchell MP [U DMM]

Papers of Chris Mullin MP [U DMU]

Papers of John Prescott MP [U DMR]

See U DMU/1/28- file of correspondence with Chris Mullin MP re: the Birmingham Six


Entry in Wikipedia, [accessed 7 February 2007]