Brian Sedgemore

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Brian Sedgemore
Member of Parliament
for Hackney South and Shoreditch
In office
9 June 1983 – 5 May 2005
Preceded by Ronald Brown
Succeeded by Meg Hillier
Member of Parliament
for Luton West
In office
28 February 1974 – 4 May 1979
Preceded by Constituency Established
Succeeded by John Russell Carlisle
Personal details
Born (1937-03-17) 17 March 1937 (age 77)
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrats
Other political
affiliations
Labour Party (until 2005)
Spouse(s) Audrey Reece (1964-2002) div.
Alma mater Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Brian Charles John Sedgemore (born 17 March 1937) is a former Labour Party politician in the United Kingdom; he was a Member of Parliament from 1974 until 1979, and from 1983 until 2005. A noted left-winger, he defected to the Liberal Democrats shortly before he stood down at the 2005 general election.

Early life[edit]

Brian Sedgemore, with his two siblings, was raised by his mother in Exmouth, Devon; his father, a stoker in the Royal Navy, died during active service in World War II.

He attended Newtown Primary School in Newtown, Exeter and Hele's School, Exeter, a grammar school. He did RAF national service from 1956-8. He graduated in PPE, from Corpus Christi College, Oxford in 1962 and, while working as a Whitehall civil servant, trained at night as a barrister specialising in Criminal Law at Middle Temple, London being called to the bar in 1966. During the 1970s he and fellow barrister David Fingleton contributed pseudonymous articles on politics and the police and criminal justice system to the Private Eye column Justinian Forthemoney. He has written a number of books including The Secret Constitution and a novel, Power Failure.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Sedgemore was first elected to the House of Commons at the February 1974 general election for Luton West, but lost this seat in 1979. In 1976 he voted for Tony Benn, the Energy Secretary, in the Labour leadership election and during 1978–79 served as Benn's Parliamentary Private Secretary, or PPS. Early in 1979 he was forced to resign over a leak of treasury papers on the European Exchange Rate Mechanism to the Treasury Select Committee. Having lost his seat, he worked as a journalist for Granada Television.

Sedgemore returned to Parliament at the 1983 general election, as MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, and stood down at the 2005 general election. He had been elected on a wave of left-wing activity in the Labour Party, culminating in the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Sedgemore himself replaced the SDP MP Ronald Brown as member for Shoreditch.

Europe[edit]

Initially, he was a member of the (now Socialist) Campaign Group, but he left the faction when he reversed his hostility to the (then) European Commission in the late 'eighties. He was later one of the few Labour MPs to vote in favour of the Maastricht Treaty, even though the Labour Party, though itself positive, used abstention as a tactic against the Conservatives.

Female Labour MPs[edit]

On 6 February 1998 in a controversial speech at the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) he disparaged the 1997 intake of female Labour MPs as "Stepford Wives…who've had the chip inserted into their brain to keep them on message and who collectively put down women and children in the vote on lone parent benefits" [1] — in the previous month benefits had been reduced for this group of (mainly) women. In the 2001–5 parliament he was the fifth most frequent rebel on the Labour benches in divisions on government motions and the tenth most frequent rebel on motions put forward by his own party.

Defection[edit]

On 25 April 2005, during the run-up to the 2005 general election, he announced he would be defecting to the Liberal Democrats, ironically the successor party to the SDP, citing the invasion of Iraq of which he has been a long-term critic, university tuition fees and anti-terrorism laws as reasons for his defection and Blair's "scorn for liberal Britain". He made various comments about Tony Blair being a liar, Blair responded on a BBC live television broadcast saying "He was not present at any meeting I had with George Bush and I don't remember having any conversation on the issue with Brian Sedgemore". Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy called Sedgemore's defection "a pivotal moment" in the election campaign.

Personal life[edit]

He is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.

He married Audrey Reece, a fellow barrister in 1964. They have a son. They divorced in 2002.

External links[edit]

News items[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Luton West
Feb 19741979
Succeeded by
John Russell Carlisle
Preceded by
Ronald Brown
Member of Parliament for Hackney South and Shoreditch
19832005
Succeeded by
Meg Hillier