Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A long political life

Simon Walker, our latest intern from Strathclyde University, started work with us a few weeks ago. He will be researching vaccinations for smallpox in India using secondary and primary sources to write web text for the Medical History of British India Project website using NLS web writing guidelines.

It turns out that Simon’s grandfather was Harold Walker (Baron Walker of Doncaster), which of course was of great interest to us here in the Official Publications Unit.
Harold Walker was an Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Workers’ Union (AUEW)-sponsored Labour Member of Parliament for Doncaster from 1964, holding the seat for 33 years. His political career progressed through junior whip in Harold Wilson’s government, under-Secretary for Employment, Privy Counsellor and Deputy Speaker. His union links were compromised by his involvement in Barbara Castle’s incomes policy initiative, the controversial “In place of strife”*, but he saw more progress with his work on equal pay, though Hansard shows that he still got a rough ride, despite his best intentions.

According to his obituary in the Telegraph, “One of Walker's most celebrated rulings was to order (with a barely-controlled straight face) the Labour maverick Tam Dalyell from the Chamber in 1986 for calling Mrs Thatcher "a bounder, a liar, a deceiver, a cheat and a crook", thereby uttering the five most un-Parliamentary expressions in a single sentence. Walker also expelled the future Scottish [First Minister] Alex Salmond for interrupting Nigel Lawson's 1988 Budget speech”.

He was knighted and served in the Lords on his retirement in 1997.

*You can access this report at the Library, shelfmark: P.P. 1969-1969 Cmnd 3888, or see the electronic version online, if you are a registered reader, in our licensed digital resources.

Simon was kind enough to bring in various documents, diaries and photographs, including this one of a (much younger!) Simon, with his distinguished granddad receiving his KBE, and Harold's second wife.