Emrys Hughes

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Emrys Hughes (cropped).jpg

Emrys Daniel Hughes (10 July 1894 – 18 October 1969) was a Welsh Labour Party politician, journalist and author. He was Labour MP for South Ayrshire in Scotland from 1946 to 1969. Among his many published books was a biography of his father-in-law, Keir Hardie.[1]


Hughes was born in Tonypandy, Wales, the son of the Reverend J. R. Hughes, a Calvinistic Methodist minister, and his wife Annie. He was educated at Abercynon Council School, Mountain Ash Secondary School and City of Leeds Training College. While working as a teacher and journalist in the Rhondda, he became a strong supporter of the Labour Party and of Keir Hardie, the Labour MP for Merthyr Tydfil.

Hughes was, like Hardie, a pacifist. He opposed the First World War and was imprisoned as a conscientious objector.[2]

In the 1923 General Election, Hughes was the unsuccessful Labour candidate for Bosworth, Leicestershire, a constituency which combined coal-mining communities and a substantial agricultural tradition.

From 1924 to 1948, Hughes edited the Scottish socialist journal Forward.[3] In the late 1930s, Forward was one of the few British left-wing publications to criticise the Moscow Trials.[4] Hughes' pacifist position in World War II was reflected in Forward: for the duration of the war he wrote most of the paper's articles.[5]

Emrys Hughes and Nan Hardie

In 1924, Hughes married Nan Hardie (1885–1947), Keir Hardie's daughter. Hughes and Nan Hardie shared the same political philosophy and ideals. As Labour councillors on the town council in Cumnock, South Ayrshire, they worked together for slum clearance and the provision of council housing. Both were provost of the council. After Nan's death, Hughes married in 1949 Martha Cleland, daughter of P.M. Cleland, a Glasgow schoolmaster.

Hughes was first elected to Parliament on at by-election on 7 February 1946 for South Ayrshire caused by the death of Alexander Sloan, the sitting Labour MP. Hughes was re-elected in the general elections of 1950, 1951, 1955, 1959, 1964, and 1966. As a left-winger and pacifist, Hughes was a frequent rebel against the party's leadership. He twice had the whip withdrawn, between November 1954 and April 1955 (over German rearmament), and between March 1961 and May 1963 (over nuclear weapons). His Constituency Labour Party always supported him in his clashes with the leadership.[6]

In 1952, Hughes caused further controversy by calling for a reduction of the civil list payments to the British Royal Family. During the debate, Hughes identified himself as an anti-monarchist and "a republican, like President Eisenhower".[7]

On 14 July 1966, Gwynfor Evans (Plaid Cymru) won Carmarthen from Labour in a by-election. Emrys Hughes was "one of the few to extend the hand of friendship".[8] Hughes supported in the House of Commons Gwynfor Evans' right to take the oath in the Welsh language.[9] When Winifred Ewing of the SNP won the Hamilton by-election from Labour in 1967, Hughes was similarly welcoming.[10]

Hughes died on 18 October 1969, while still an MP.

His papers were deposited at the National Library of Scotland.[11]

Selected works[edit]

  • Winston Churchill. British Bulldog: His Career in War and Peace, Exposition Books, 1955. ASIN:B0006ATSO8 (first published in 1950)
  • Keir Hardie, Allen & Unwin, 1956. ASIN:B0006DBKFK
  • Emrys Hughes, M.P. on POLARIS and the ARMS RACE, Housmans, 1961. ASIN:B003Z94NXI
  • Harold Macmillan : Portrait of a Politician, Allen & Unwin, 1962. ISBN 978-0-04-923013-2
  • Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Modern Conservative, Housmans, 1964. ASIN: B002A6S6OE
  • Sydney Silverman – Rebel in Parliament, C Skilton, 1969. ASIN:B001KIB9T2

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hughes, Emrys Daniel (1894–1969), politician, journalist and author, John Graham Jones (2001), Dictionary of Welsh Biography / Welsh Biography Online.
  2. ^ BBC – World War One At Home, 29 August 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2017 : "Emrys Hughes ... was the most imprisoned Conscientious Objector in Wales... Caernarfon was amongst the prisons he was sent to".
  3. ^ Hughes was acting Editor from 1924 to 1931, and Editor from 1931 to 1948.
  4. ^ Robert J. Alexander, International Trotskyism, 1929–1985: A Documented Analysis of the Movement. Duke University Press, 1991 ISBN 082231066X, p. 451
  5. ^ William Knox (ed.), Scottish Labour Leaders 1918–1939. A Biographical Dictionary Edinburgh, Mainstream Publishing, 1984 ISBN 9780906391402, pp.144–158
  6. ^ H.M. Drucker Breakaway: The Scottish Labour Party
  7. ^ Kingsley Martin, The Crown and the Establishment. London, Hutchinson (p.137-39)
  8. ^ Gwynfor Evans : Obituary, The Scotsman 28 April 2005. Retrieved 18 December 2017. As a fellow pacifist and member of the Peace Pledge Union, Gwynfor Evans was shown around the House of Commons by Emrys Hughes; pointing to the Welsh table in the Commons' tea room, Hughes said : 'I wouldn't sit there if I were you '– 'Your name is mud there.' – "Gwynfor Evans", by Peter Hughes Griffiths : first National Eisteddfod of Wales Lecture of the Plaid Cymru History Society (6 Aug 2012; extended version 5 October 2012; English translation by Dafydd Williams. Retrieved 18 December 2017).
  9. ^ When the Speaker refused to allow Gwynfor Evans to take the oath in Welsh, Hughes immediately rose in the Commons to challenge his ruling.OATH OF ALLEGIANCE (WELSH LANGUAGE), Hansard HC Deb 21 July 1966 vol 732 cc879-85.
  10. ^ 'Mother Scotland' : interview with Winifred Ewing, The Scotsman, 22 February 2007, updated 23 February 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2017: "she remembers with particular gratitude the kindness and courtesy she received from a few exceptional Labour MPs, notably Emrys Hughes and Michael Foot".
  11. ^ The National Library of Scotland also holds the Keir Hardie/Emrys Hughes Collection Archived 27 April 2017 at the Wayback Machine of posters, leaflets and book relating to left-wing politics and the Labour Party in the early 20th century.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by Editor of Forward
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for South Ayrshire
Succeeded by