Bernard Donoughue, Baron Donoughue

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The Lord Donoughue
Official Parliamentary Portrait
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Farming and the Food Industry
In office
2 May 1997 – 29 July 1999
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byTim Boswell
Succeeded byThe Baroness Hayman
Member of the House of Lords
Life peerage
26 June 1985
Director of the Number 10 Policy Unit
In office
8 March 1974 – 4 May 1979
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
James Callaghan
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJohn Hoskyns
Personal details
Born (1934-09-08) 8 September 1934 (age 89)
Political partyLabour
  • Carol Ruth Goodman
    (m. 1959; div. 1989)
  • Sarah Berry
    (m. 2009)
Alma mater

Bernard Donoughue, Baron Donoughue (born 8 September 1934) is a British Labour Party politician, academic, businessman and author.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

According to his autobiography, Donoughue was born into poverty. He is the son of Thomas Joseph Donoughue and Maud Violet Andrews.[3] He was educated at Campbell Secondary Modern School[citation needed] and Northampton Grammar School.[4] He studied at the University of Oxford, first at Lincoln College,[4] where he obtained 1st class honours in Modern History in 1957,[3] then at Nuffield College, where he graduated with a D.Phil. on the American Revolution.[3] The early stages of his research were pursued as Charles and Julia Henry Fellow at Harvard.[3] Donoughue moved into an academic career at London School of Economics (Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Reader: 1963–1974).[3][5]

Working for The Economist[edit]

Donoughue went into politics to be "associated with Labour governments which defended the interests of working people and underprivileged people."[6] Always at the centre of London, the capital and of politics, education and business, Donoughue was a member of the editorial staff of The Economist in 1959 and 1960 when a young Labour activist supporting Hugh Gaitskell. He was senior research officer of the Political and Economic Planning Institute between 1960 and 1963.[7]

Head of the policy research unit[edit]

For a long time a lecturer close to young people, he was asked by the Wilson government to join the founding Sports Council, an advisory body to harness amateur physical recreation. Twenty years later he would make his first speech in the Lords on Sporting Events (controls) bill.[8]

Wilson took notice of Donoughue's communication skills, displayed in his career at the London School of Economics and in his journalism, when he was appointed head of the policy research unit in 1974.[9] Two years before there were a flurry of questions in both houses about whether these unaccredited "political" advisers were paid from public funds. Wilson expanded the department in No.10 who had a profound influence like never before on policy formation.[10] For the first time the Official Report published the salaries; and as being part of the Civil Service department.[11]

He continued to head the team under Wilson's successor, James Callaghan, and he held the office until the defeat of the Labour Party in 1979.[12] He was an admirer and close friend of Callaghan, whose relaxed 'beer and sandwiches' approach to political interaction contrasted to the intensity of successive prime ministerial conceited wisdom that demanded heavy studying.[citation needed]

Working for The Times[edit]

Out of government from 1979 to 1981, Donoughue was development director of the Economist Intelligence Unit, and in 1982-83 was assistant editor of The Times until his dismissal by a new right-wing owner Rupert Murdoch. He gave his opinion in an interview with the New Statesman:

I’m very proud of that fact I was sacked by Murdoch. That’s an honour! There are quite a number of us with that honour, of course.

Donoughue was at the Times during Rupert Murdoch's takeover and in his first year as proprietor, and he holds the media mogul responsible for what he dubs "a diminution in the values of our society". News International were in the throes of a business revolution in Fleet Street: at its hub was the end of a closed shop for the skilled craftsmen of the print 'chapters' who zealously guarded their trade secrets. Murdoch's actions broke up the old union grip on the news print media; former journalists like Tony Benn were incensed but the Labour party were helpless to resist the changes from opposition.[13] At the time he lived in Hampstead & Highgate where John McDonnell was the party's candidate for a seat won by the Conservatives in the 'landslide' election of 1983.[14]

Whitehall source for Yes Minister[edit]

Donoughue was also chairman of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1979 to 1991, patron from 1989 to 1995, and has been an associate since 2000. Around this time, he was also one of the sources inside Whitehall used by the writers of the comedy series Yes Minister, the other one being Baroness Falkender.[15]

Working in the finance industry[edit]

He was head of research and investment policy of Grieveson Grant and Co Stockbrokers from 1982 to 1986 and head of international research and director of Kleinwort Grieveson Securities Ltd from 1986 to 1988, a branch arm of the investment bank.[16] Following this, Donoughue was executive vice-chair of LBI from 1988 to 1991, director of Towcester Racecourse Ltd from 1992 to 1997 and was made an honorary fellow of LSE.[17] From November 1995, shortly after the Eurosceptics had been defeated by the Major government, Donoughue, still a staunchly Labour peer, was appointed to the Lords Works of Arts committee. He was not removed from this duty when a different civil dispensation came to power in 1997, until a clash with the New Labour leadership, but he was later appointed a trustee of the Victoria County History.

Co-founder of the British Horse Industry Confederation[edit]

Donoughue helped found the British Horse Industry Confederation in 1999[18][19] and was a Consultant Member until 2003.[2] This coincided with appointment that September with co-option onto the joint Lords and Commons committee tasked with the responsibility of drafting a new Gambling bill. The outcome would be the licensing of so-called Big Casinos and a general release of universal internet betting rights. On 22 Dec 2015 he declared a gift to the bookmakers union.[20] The radical change to the status quo proved a revolution in working people's experience of gaming that would indirectly cause remedial action on payday loans.[2]

Visiting professor[edit]

He was a visiting professor of Government at LSE from 2000 to 2011/2012.[21]

Chairman of the Starting Price Regulatory Commission[edit]

Donoughue became chairman of the SPRC when it was founded in 2003, and as of 2016 was still in that role.[22] The SPRC is a non-profit organisation operating on a cost recovery basis that

is responsible for the integrity of the starting price (SP). The majority of bets on British horseracing struck with bookmakers in betting shops and other off-course outlets are paid out according to the SP. The job of the Commission is to ensure that the returned price accurately reflects the price available on-course at the off.[22]

House of Lords[edit]

On 21 May 1985, he was created a life peer as Baron Donoughue, of Ashton in the County of Northampton.[23][2]

Donoghue was an Opposition Labour spokesman for Energy, Heritage and Treasury matters from 1991 to 1992.[2] In 1997, Tony Blair appointed him a junior minister at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in which role he served until 1999.[2] He later joined the Countryside Alliance against New Labour's policy on Hunting with Dogs, and the Foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.[clarification needed]

Donoghue is a climate change denialist and a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (a climate denialist think tank).[24]

He is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Donoughue was married to Carol Ruth Goodman from 1959 until their divorce in 1989; they have two sons and two daughters.[26] He married Sarah, Lady Berry, widow of Sir Anthony Berry, in 2009.[27]



  • Bernard Donoughue and Janet Alker. Trade Unions in a Changing Society. London: PEP, 1963.
  • Bernard Donoughue. British Politics and the American Revolution: the path to war, 1773–75. London: Macmillan, 1964.
  • W. T. Rodgers; Bernard Donoughue. The People into Parliament: an illustrated history of the Labour Party. London: Thames and Hudson, 1966.
  • Bernard Donoughue and George William Jones. Herbert Morrison: Portrait of a Politician. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973. ISBN 9780297766056
  • Bernard Donoughue. Prime Minister: Conduct of Policy Under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, 1974–79. London: Jonathan Cape, 1987. ISBN 9780224024501
  • Bernard Donoughue. The Heat of the Kitchen: an autobiography. London: Politicos, 2004.
  • Bernard Donoughue. Downing Street Diary: Volume 1 – With Harold Wilson in No. 10. London: Jonathan Cape, 2004. ISBN 0224040227
  • Bernard Donoughue. Downing Street Diary: Volume 2 – With James Callaghan in No. 10. London: Pimlico, 2009. ISBN 1845950941
  • Bernard Donoughue. Westminster Diary: A Reluctant Minister under Tony Blair. London: I.B.Taurus, 2016. ISBN 1784536504
  • Bernard Donoughue. Westminster Diary Volume 2: Farewell to Office. London: I.B. Tauris, 2017. ISBN 1784539465

Critical studies and reviews of Donoughue's work[edit]

Downing Street diary


  1. ^ Donoughue in Debrett's People of Today
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Lord Donoughue". UK Parliament.
  3. ^ a b c d e Who's Who 2007, London: A & C Black, 2007: p. 624
  4. ^ a b The Baron Donoughue, Burke's Peerage
  5. ^ B. Donoughue, British Politics and the American Revolution: The Path to War 1773–75, London: Macmillan, 1964: p. viii
  6. ^ B.D. interview with Stephen Bush on 17 Dec 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  7. ^ which became the Policy Studies Institute in 1976. About PSI Office Page
  8. ^ HL Deb 03 February 1965 vol 262 cc1180-2;
  9. ^ "Observer review: Downing Street Diary by Bernard Donoughue". 10 July 2005.
  10. ^ HL Deb 03 July 1974 vol 353 cc281-4
  11. ^ "MINISTERIAL ADVISERS". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 2 May 1974.
  12. ^ Dennis Kavanagh for The Telegraph, 29 May 2003. Some unfinished business at No 10
  13. ^ Harold Evans. Good Times, Bad Times. Athaeneum (1984). Chapters 12–13.
  14. ^ Stephen Bush interview. Retrieved on 3 August 2016.
  15. ^ J. Lynn. Comedy Rules: From the Cambridge Footlights to Yes, Prime Minister. Faber & Faber, Aug 18, 2011 ISBN 9780571277971 .: 98 
  16. ^ Interview in Marxism Today, November 1987 City Strategies
  17. ^ LSE List of Honorary Fellows[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  19. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Lords. "Lords Hansard text for 13 May 1999 (190513-01)".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ Federation of Course Bookmakers, 22 December 2015.
  21. ^ "Mile End Group, Next Event". Archived from the original on 20 October 2011. Retrieved 2013-02-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)Mile End Group at Queen Mary, University of London (archived)
  22. ^ a b Starting Price Regulatory Commission, June 2012. Starting Price Regulatory Commission Report 2011 Archived 14 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "No. 50136". The London Gazette. 28 May 1985. p. 7379.
  24. ^ Ward, Bob. "Climate change 'sceptics' know they have lost the argument, but they are still churning out propaganda". Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  25. ^ "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  26. ^ "Person Page".
  27. ^ Andy McSmith for The Independent. 24 October 2009. "Village people: 24/10/2009"

External links[edit]

Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
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