|Born||28 October 1943
Droylsden, England, United Kingdom
|Died||21 March 1990|
Allan Roberts (28 October 1943 – 21 March 1990) was a British politician who was a Labour Member of Parliament from 1979 until his death. A teacher and social worker before his election, he was a member of the left wing of the party.
Roberts was from a working-class background, the son of a baker and a machinist. He was born in Droylsden on the eastern side of Manchester, and went to Littlemoss Boys' County Secondary School. He first trained as a teacher at Ashton-under-Lyne College of Education and Didsbury College of Education. He joined the Labour Party while still a teenager in 1959, and the next year also joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
In May 1978, Roberts was a surprising choice to replace Simon Mahon who was retiring as Member of Parliament for Bootle, a constituency in which he had no local roots. Mahon and Roberts were almost polar opposites: Mahon was born in Bootle, a right-winger, a Roman Catholic with traditional views on morality, while Roberts was from the rival city of Manchester, a member of the new left who was also allegedly gay, though Roberts never publicly said he was homosexual. His experience with council housing issues was a considerable asset in winning selection, and he made a speech to the Labour Party conference in 1978 arguing that public authorities needed a surplus of council housing in order to solve the housing crisis.
As a supporter of Tony Benn in the Deputy Leadership election of 1981, Roberts was unopposed for reselection that June. He opposed the Falklands War, and joined the Socialist Campaign Group in December 1982. The Militant Tendency was strong in his constituency, which neighboured its Walton base in Liverpool, and Roberts denounced attempts to expel members of the Tendency as a "witch hunt". Following the 1983 election (in which he was re-elected with a 15,139 majority), Roberts nominated his constituency neighbour Eric Heffer for the Labour leadership and Michael Meacher for the Deputy Leadership.
Seeking to make a political point, Roberts brought forward a Bill to give private tenants the right to buy their flats in November 1983. Roberts had made enough of a name for himself to become a columnist in the Labour Herald (a newspaper set up by the Labour left, including Ken Livingstone) in 1983. He was also noticed in Parliament for his habit of dressing casually, and was rumoured to be the first MP to wear jeans to work. In November 1984, he won a libel action against the News of the World, which had linked him to gay sex offences in Liverpool.
Roberts was diagnosed with cancer in the late 1980s and after a long time fighting the disease, died at the age of 46. He was the first of three MPs for Bootle in the year 1990, as his successor Michael Carr died only a month after winning the by-election.
- Alan Doig, "Westminster Babylon: Sex, Money and Scandal in British Politics" (Allison & Busby, London, 1990)
- Andrew Roth, "Parliamentary Profiles L-R" (Parliamentary Profiles Ltd, London, 1985).
- Times Guide to the House of Commons, 1987 and 1992 editions.
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs [self-published source][better source needed]
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Allan Roberts
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Bootle