Peter Griffiths

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For other people named Peter Griffiths, see Peter Griffiths (disambiguation).
Peter Griffiths
Member of Parliament
for Portsmouth North
In office
3 May 1979 – 1 May 1997
Preceded by Frank Judd
Succeeded by Syd Rapson
Member of Parliament
for Smethwick
In office
15 October 1964 – 31 March 1966
Preceded by Patrick Gordon Walker
Succeeded by Andrew Faulds
Personal details
Born (1928-05-24)24 May 1928
West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England, UK
Died 20 November 2013(2013-11-20) (aged 85)
Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, UK
Citizenship British
Political party Conservative
Residence United Kingdom

Peter Harry Steve Griffiths (24 May 1928 – 20 November 2013) was a British Conservative politician best known for gaining the Smethwick seat by defeating the Shadow Foreign Secretary Patrick Gordon Walker in the 1964 general election against the national trend.


Griffiths was born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, and attended West Bromwich Grammar School, Leeds Teacher Training College and London and Birmingham universities before entering a teaching career. In 1955 he was elected to Smethwick County Borough Council.[1]

He served as a councillor until 1963 when he resigned to fight the Smethwick parliamentary seat in the forthcoming general election against the sitting Labour Member of Parliament (MP) Patrick Gordon Walker. Labour were expected to win the 1964 election, and Gordon Walker was Foreign Secretary designate. Smethwick had been a focus of immigration from the Commonwealth during the years of economic and industrial growth following World War II[citation needed]. It was perhaps for these reasons that race and nationality featured prominently in what became an increasingly ill-tempered election campaign in 1964. The Conservatives were accused of running a racist campaign under the slogan "If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour".[2][3] Griffiths' defeat of Gordon Walker resulted in a furious Harold Wilson claiming in the House of Commons that Griffiths should "serve his term here as a parliamentary leper".[4][5] In his maiden speech in the Commons, however, Griffiths pointed out the problems faced by local industry and drew attention to the fact that 4,000 families were awaiting local authority accommodation.[6] Griffiths also wrote his own account of the election in 1966.[7][8]

Griffiths was in turn defeated by Labour candidate Andrew Faulds in the 1966 general election[9] and returned to a career in education.[1] He unsuccessfully fought the Portsmouth North constituency in the February 1974 general election, but did not stand in the October 1974 election. However, he stood again at the 1979 general election, defeating the sitting Labour MP Frank Judd. He held the seat until the Labour landslide at the 1997 election.[1]

He was married to Jeannette, née Rubery, and they had one son and one daughter.[1]

He died on 20 November 2013.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Who's Who 2007
  2. ^ Childs, P., Storry, M. (1999) Encyclopaedia of contemporary British culture, London: Routledge p. 13
  3. ^ Geddes, A. (2003) The politics of migration and immigration in Europe, London: Sage Publications, p. 34
  4. ^ a b "Peter Griffiths - obituary". Daily Telegraph. 27 November 2013. Archived from the original on 9 August 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  5. ^ The Times, 4 November 1964, p.4 col.5
  6. ^ Hansard, 1964
  7. ^ Griffiths (1966)
  8. ^ Time Magazine, 13 November 1964
  9. ^ White (2000)


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Patrick Gordon Walker
Member of Parliament for Smethwick
Succeeded by
Andrew Faulds
Preceded by
Frank Judd
Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North
Succeeded by
Syd Rapson