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Arthur Hughes
Member of Parliament
Arthur hughes
Born 7th August 1930
Constituency Islington South and Finsbury
Political Party Social Democratic
Religion Humanist

Rt. Hon. Dr. Arthur Hughes MP PC BA MA PhD (born 5th July 1930) is a British Social Democrat politician who represents Islington South and Finsbury. He was one of the 'Gang of Four' who broke away from the Labour Party to create the SDP. He served as Secretary of State for Social Services 1978-1979.

Early Life Edit

Arthur Hughes was born in 1930 to Dr. John Hughes, Professor of History at King's College, London and Susan Hughes, the News Editor of the London Evening Standard. He was enrolled at Rotherfield School from 1934 until 1941, and then at Islington Green School from 1941 until 1948. He later described his childhood as "rather bohemian". He took his political views from his mother and father, both of whom were Labour Party members, and from his surroundings such as the poorer parts of Islington.

He went to University to study Political Science in 1948. He decided on Durham because although it was a small town and far from his home, he had no desire to study at one of the Oxbridge colleges and found Durham an excellent University. He was to spend the next ten years there, devoting his time to the study of British Politics. He gained a BA in 1951; an MA in 1954; and a Doctorate in Political Science in 1958. He was offered a position on the staff at Durham, but declined it, choosing to go back to London instead. He and his young family (the Hughes now had a son, Harold) moved back to Islington, and Arthur eventually found a Professorship position on the staff at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in late 1958.

He remained there for nearly eleven years. His wife gave birth to a baby girl, Claudia, in 1960, and he was an active member of the Fabian Society where he met future friends and political allies including Shirley Williams and Jamie McMahon. He published a book, Progress and Reform: the social democratic challenge in post-war Britain which put him firmly on the moderate wing of the Labour Party, and he was an early supporter of EEC entry. He was also active in the Islington South West CLP and was selected as candidate for the seat in 1970 to succeed Albert Evans, who was retiring after twenty-three years in the House. He resigned his position at the LSE, and was duly elected in 1970.


Political Career Edit

He remained on the backbenches for a number of years, but he was friendly with many Labour moderates including Roy Jenkins and Shirley Williams. He was interested in many issues including constitutional reform (he supported the conclusions of the Royal Commission on the Constitution, which recommended devolution for Scotland and Wales), home affairs, health, and Europe. Indeed, he was one of the rebels who defied the whip set down by the party in order to vote for the European Communities Act 1972. He was, however, appointed to the post of Shadow Minister of State for the Home Office in 1974, where he worked with Roy Jenkins until after the February 1974 general election.

After the election, he was appointed to the relatively lowly position of Minister of State at the Department for Prices and Consumer Protection, which was newly created by Harold Wilson. There he worked with Shirley Williams until 1976. He participated in the 1975 referendum on membership of the EEC, and campaigned with Williams and Jenkins for a yes vote, which was duly supported by the electorate. In the 1976 leadership election, he voted for Roy Jenkins in the first round, Denis Healey in the second round and Jim Callaghan in the third. In the second reshuffle of 1976, Arthur was promoted to become Minister of State for Education, where he worked again with Shirley Williams, and he concentrated, at that time, upon comprehensive schooling, which he 'firmly supported'. He was promoted again in 1978 to become Secretary of State for Social Services, a position which he served in until 1979, when the Labour Government lost power.

He retained his seat with a smaller majority in 1979. He was sacked from the Shadow Cabinet by MPs who disdained his moderate views, and became increasingly worried by the leftward slide of the party. By 1981, he had had enough. He, along with David Pressman, Jamie McMahon and Shirley Williams gave the 'Limehouse Declaration', which called for "realignment within British politics" along moderate lines. He duly left the Labour Party a few weeks after.

He is known for his liberal views on homosexuality, abortion, divorce, recently voted against the reintroduction of hanging, and is in favour of anti-discrimination measures. He recently gave a speech to the LSE, in which he said he favoured co-operation and consensus with the Liberal Party, commenting that if the two were to compete "I tell you in no uncertain terms that we shall both be cast into oblivion, and the radical moderates in British society shall have failed at the first hurdle".


Notable Quotes Edit

"Hundreds of thousands of voters in Solihull and Sutton Coldfield, Chester-le-Street and Dearne Valley are in effect disenfranchised by the unjust and suffocating electoral system which we live under." - when speaking to the LSE.