John Silkin

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This article is about the politician. For the poet, see Jon Silkin.
The Right Honourable
John Silkin
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
24 November 1981 – 26 October 1984
Leader Michael Foot
Neil Kinnock
Preceded by Brynmor John
Succeeded by Denzil Davies
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
8 December 1980 – 30 October 1983
Leader Michael Foot
Preceded by Michael Foot
Succeeded by Peter Shore
Shadow Secretary of State for Industry
In office
14 July 1979 – 8 December 1980
Leader James Callaghan
Preceded by John Biffen
Succeeded by Stanley Orme
Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
In office
10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979
Prime Minister James Callaghan
Preceded by Fred Peart
Succeeded by Peter Walker
Minister of State for Local Government and Planning
In office
7 March 1974 – 10 September 1976
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
James Callaghan
Preceded by Graham Page (Local Government and Development)
Succeeded by Office Abolished
Minister of Public Buildings and Works
In office
30 April 1969 – 19 June 1970
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Bob Mellish
Succeeded by Julian Amery
Government Chief Whip in the Commons
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
In office
4 July 1966 – 30 April 1969
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Edward Short
Succeeded by Bob Mellish
Member of Parliament
for Lewisham Deptford
In office
28 February 1974 – 11 June 1987
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by Joan Ruddock
Member of Parliament
for Deptford
In office
4 July 1963 – 28 February 1974
Preceded by Leslie Plummer
Succeeded by Constituency Abolished
Personal details
Born (1923-03-18)18 March 1923
Died 26 April 1987(1987-04-26) (aged 64)
Political party Labour
Alma mater University of Wales
Trinity Hall, Cambridge

John Ernest Silkin, PC (18 March 1923 – 26 April 1987) was an English Labour politician and solicitor.

He was the third son of Lewis Silkin, 1st Baron Silkin, and a younger brother of Samuel Silkin, Baron Silkin of Dulwich. He was educated at Dulwich College, the University of Wales and Trinity Hall at Cambridge. Silkin served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve from 1942 to 1946. He was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant in 1943, serving in the East Indies Fleet, Eastern Fleet and Pacific Fleet aboard HMS King George V and HMS Formidable, and ashore at Anderson, Ceylon (FECB). He was later promoted lieutenant. He was demobilised in 1946 and returned to Cambridge.

Silkin was admitted as a solicitor in 1950 and worked for his father's law practice in London.

He contested the seat of St Marylebone at the General Election for the Labour Party in 1950, West Woolwich in 1951 and South Nottingham in 1959. He served as a councillor in the Metropolitan Borough of St Marylebone (1962–63) and was elected to the House of Commons for the first time in July 1963. He served as the Labour Member of Parliament for Deptford (1963–74) and for Lewisham, Deptford (1974–87).

He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1966. He served as a Government Chief Whip (1966–69) and as the deputy leader of the House of Commons (1968–69). He was appointed as the Minister of Public Buildings and Works (1969–70) and the Minister for Planning and Local Government in the Department for the Environment (1974–76). He served as the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1976–79).

In opposition, Silkin was an unsuccessful candidate in the 1980 Labour leadership election following the resignation of James Callaghan and in the deputy leadership election in 1981. He served as Opposition Spokesman on Industry (1979–80), Shadow Leader of the House of Commons (1980–83), Shadow Defence Secretary (1981–83) and the Dairy Industry Arbitrator (1986–87).

He was married to the actress Rosamund John from 1950 until his early death in 1987. Their son Rory L. F. Silkin was born in 1954.

Silkin's publication Changing Battlefields: The Challenge to the Labour Party appeared posthumously. His papers were given to the Churchill Archives Centre by his widow in February 1990. These cover his Parliamentary and Ministerial career, as well as his other public interests, such as the Channel Tunnel, the European Economic Community and the dairy industry. There is material of particular interest concerning his relationship with his Constituency Labour Party in Deptford and on the Labour Party Leadership and Deputy Leadership Elections in 1980 and 1981.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Leslie Plummer
Member of Parliament for Deptford
19631974
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Lewisham Deptford
19741987
Succeeded by
Joan Ruddock
Political offices
Preceded by
Sydney Irving
Labour Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Commons
1966
Succeeded by
Charles Grey
Treasurer of the Household
1966
Preceded by
Edward Short
Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons
1966–1969
Succeeded by
Bob Mellish
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
1966–1969
Preceded by
Bob Mellish
Minister of State for Public Buildings and Works
1969–1970
Succeeded by
Julian Amery
Preceded by
Graham Page
as Minister of State for Local Government and Development
Minister of State for Local Government and Planning
1974–1976
Position abolished
Preceded by
Fred Peart
Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
1976–1979
Succeeded by
Peter Walker