Broughton was educated at Rossall School, Downing College, Cambridge and the London Hospital and became a doctor, a member of a family who had been Batley doctors for 70 years. During World War II he worked in civil defence and in the medical corps of the Royal Air Force. He was a member of Batley Borough Council 1946-49.
Broughton was Member of Parliament for Batley and Morley from a 1949 by-election. He was an opposition whip in 1960. Broughton was in poor health throughout the 1970s, spending much of the time living in hospital in Yorkshire. The fact that the Labour government's majority had been lost meant that his treatment was often disrupted so that he could be taken down to London to be 'nodded through' to win key votes.
On 28 March 1979 the government faced a knife-edge vote of no confidence when Broughton was on his death bed. Broughton's doctors were extremely concerned for him and strongly advised him not to travel. Although he was willing to come down to vote, Prime Minister James Callaghan decided it would be obscene to ask him to do so. In the event the government lost by one vote; had Broughton been present, it would have survived. Broughton died five days later.
On 8 June 2009 an afternoon play called 'How Are You Feeling, Alf?' about Broughton and the 1979 no confidence vote was aired on BBC Radio 4. David Ryall played Broughton and Malcolm Tierney as James Callaghan.
- Times Guide to the House of Commons October 1974
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs [self-published source][better source needed]
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Alfred Broughton
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