Margaret McKay

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Margaret McKay
Member of Parliament
for Clapham
In office
15 October 1964 – 17 June 1970
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byAlan Glyn
Succeeded byWilliam Shelton
Personal details
Margaret McCarthy

(1907-01-22)22 January 1907
Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire
Died1 March 1996(1996-03-01) (aged 89)
Political partyLabour

Margaret McKay (née McCarthy; 22 January 1907 – 1 March 1996) was a British Labour Party Member of Parliament for Clapham from 1964 to 1970.

Early life[edit]

Despite later assertions that McKay was born in 1911, she was in fact born on 22 January 1907 at Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, a daughter of Joseph and Betsy Ann (Catlow) McCarthy.[1]


McKay's family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts[citation needed] in her youth, but then returned to England. McKay joined the Independent Labour Party's Guild of Youth, then the Young Communist League, graduating to the Communist Party of Great Britain. She left the party in 1932, joining the Labour Party,[2] and became active in the Socialist League, a left-wing pressure group within the party, serving as its general secretary from 1936 until it was dissolved the following year.[3] She also became general secretary of the National Union of Domestic Workers, a national organiser for the Transport and General Workers' Union, and Trades Union Congress Women's Officer (1951–1962).[4]

After holding various trade union posts, McKay stood unsuccessfully for Labour in Walthamstow East at the 1959 general election.[2] At the 1964 general election, she defeated the sitting Conservative MP Alan Glyn for Clapham, taking the seat with a majority of only 556.[5] At the 1966 election she increased her majority to over 4,000 against the Conservative Ian Gow,[6] but she stood down at the 1970 general election, when the seat was won by the Conservative William Shelton.[7]

While in Parliament, McKay became a supporter of Arab interests, creating a mock Palestinian refugee camp in Parliament Square and wearing Arab robes during debates. Jordan issued a postage stamp in her honour. After retiring from politics, McKay moved to Abu Dhabi.[2] She became a friend of the then President, Sheikh Zayed, and died there on March 1, 1996. She is buried at Sas Al Nakhl cemetery.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Edward J. Davies, "The Parentages of Edward Whittle and Margaret McKay", North West Labour History, 38(2013-14):43.
  2. ^ a b c Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. ^ Michael Bor, The Socialist League in the 1930s, p.91
  4. ^ Report of Annual Trades Union Congress. Trades Union Congress. 1996.
  5. ^ Not updated: UK General Election results: October 1964
  6. ^ Not updated: UK General Election results: March 1966
  7. ^ Not updated: UK General Election results 1970

Further reading[edit]

  • Margaret McCarthy, Generation in Revolt, Heinemann, 1953

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alan Glyn
Member of Parliament for Clapham
Succeeded by
William Shelton
Party political offices
Preceded by
J. T. Murphy
General Secretary of the Socialist League
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Nancy Adam
Woman Officer of the Trades Union Congress
Succeeded by
Ethel Chipchase