Edmund Dell

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The Right Honourable
Edmund Dell
Secretary of State for Trade
In office
8 April 1976 – 11 November 1978
Prime Minister James Callaghan
Preceded by Peter Shore
Succeeded by John Smith
Member of Parliament
for Birkenhead
In office
15 October 1964 – 3 May 1979
Preceded by Percy Collick
Succeeded by Frank Field
Personal details
Born (1921-08-15)15 August 1921
London, United Kingdom
Died 28 October 1999(1999-10-28) (aged 78)
Political party Liberal Democrats (1988–1999)
Other political
affiliations
Labour (Before 1981)
Social Democratic (1981–1988)
Alma mater Queen's College, Oxford

Edmund Emanuel Dell (15 August 1921 – 28 October 1999) was a British politician and businessman.

Early life[edit]

Dell was born in London, the son of a Jewish manufacturer. In World War II he served in the Rifle Corps and the Royal Artillery, leaving as a first lieutenant. He studied at Dame Alice Owen's School and Queen's College, Oxford where he was a member of the Communist Party, as his future ministerial colleague Denis Healey had been before the war. Dell graduated with first class honours in modern history in 1947.

Early career and politics[edit]

Dell soon began work for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in Manchester as an overseas sales manager, specialising in Latin American trade and eventually rose to Vice President of the Plastics Division. Dell soon began to find himself in the difficult position of balancing a career in business with Labour politics. In 1953 Dell was elected to Manchester City Council and served for seven years.

Political career[edit]

Labour party[edit]

He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in 1955 in Middleton and Prestwich. Dell was dissuaded from standing for Parliament in 1959 by ICI on the grounds that it would make promotion to the highest ranks of the company difficult. However, Dell eventually gave in to the temptation of Parliament and was elected to Parliament as the Labour Member of Parliament for Birkenhead in 1964. He served as parliamentary private secretary to Jack Diamond, then Parliamentary Secretary for Technology under Tony Benn in 1966 and Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs under Peter Shore in 1967. In 1968 he was promoted to Minister of State for Trade. Switched to employment in 1969, he was made a privy councillor in 1970.

Dell was one of the 69 Labour MPs to rebel against the Labour government to vote for Britain's entry into the European Community in 1971. He subsequently refused to take a frontbench role while in opposition and served as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. When Wilson returned to Downing Street, Dell became Paymaster General, then Secretary of State for Trade and President of the Board of Trade in James Callaghan's government 1976-78. He was tipped to become Chancellor of the Exchequer but resigned his seat, increasingly disillusioned by Labour's drift to the Left as he moved sharply to the Right. He had always been much more oriented toward free market capitalism than his comrades in the Labour Party and grew increasingly uncomfortable in a party that was growing increasingly dominated by advocates of a planned economy and corporatism.

SDP and Liberal Democrats[edit]

Dell later joined the Social Democratic Party and, after the SDP's merger with the Liberal Party in 1988 was a member of the Liberal Democrats. Dell served as a trustee of both the SDP and the Liberal Democrats and served as one of SDP's three representatives during emergency negotiations with the Liberals in January 1988 when it appeared the two parties' merger might fall through after the failed launch by David Steel and Bob Maclennan of the joint manifesto, "Voices and Choices".

Post-Parliament life[edit]

After Parliament he had a career in business as chairman of Guinness Peat, founding chairman of Channel 4 and as a director of Shell Trading. In 1991-2 he was president of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 1996, he wrote The Chancellors: A History Of Chancellors Of The Exchequer 1945-90. His book, A Strange Eventful History, Democratic Socialism in Britain was published posthumously in 2000. It was a summation of his critique of the Labour Party's long history being attached to what he saw as "much Keynesianism and too much of the detritus of socialism." Although he had voted for Labour in 1992 and 1997, he still thought that New Labour ultimately "will not fully have entered the modern world until it learns to love capitalism with all its warts."

Personal life[edit]

Dell was married to Susan Gottschalk for 36 years.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Percy Collick
Member of Parliament for Birkenhead
19641979
Succeeded by
Frank Field
Political offices
Preceded by
Maurice Macmillan
Paymaster General
1974–1976
Succeeded by
Shirley Williams
Preceded by
Peter Shore
Secretary of State for Trade
1976–1978
Succeeded by
John Smith
Media offices
New office Chairperson of Channel 4
1982–1987
Succeeded by
Richard Attenborough