Teddy Taylor

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Sir Teddy Taylor
Sir Teddy Taylor.jpg
Teddy Taylor in 2009
Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland
In office
9 December 1976 – 3 May 1979
Leader Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Alick Buchanan-Smith
Succeeded by Bruce Millan
Member of Parliament
for Rochford and Southend East
Southend East (1980–1997)
In office
14 March 1980 – 11 April 2005
Preceded by Sir Stephen McAdden
Succeeded by James Duddridge
Member of Parliament
for Glasgow Cathcart
In office
15 October 1964 – 3 May 1979
Preceded by John Henderson
Succeeded by John Maxton
Personal details
Born Edward MacMillan Taylor
(1937-04-18) 18 April 1937 (age 80)
Glasgow, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Sheila

Sir Edward MacMillan Taylor (born 18 April 1937) is a British Conservative Party politician who was a member of parliament (MP) from 1964 to 1979 for Glasgow Cathcart and from 1980 to 2005 for Rochford and Southend East.

He was a leading member and vice-president of the Conservative Monday Club.

Early career[edit]

Taylor was born in Glasgow. After being a pupil at the High School of Glasgow, he worked as a journalist on the Glasgow Herald and a Glasgow City Councillor from 1960. He fought Glasgow Springburn at the 1959 general election, but he was beaten by Labour's John Forman.

He first entered Parliament in the 1964 election as MP for Glasgow Cathcart, at the time being the Baby of the House, as he was the youngest MP. He became a Scottish Office minister in Edward Heath's government. He resigned from this position in protest at the UK joining the European Economic Community. Because of his strong personal following, he held onto the working-class Glasgow constituency of Cathcart, one of only two Conservative seats in Glasgow in the 1970s.

Early controversy[edit]

He was a controversial figure in his time in Scottish politics, sometimes known as "dial-a-quote", or for his calls to bring back the birch. Brian Wilson, journalist and later Labour MP, wrote that calling him by a nice cuddly name like "Teddy" was "like calling the hound of the Baskervilles 'Rover.'"

Monday Club[edit]

He joined the Conservative Monday Club at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which he opposed, and remained one of its staunchest supporters well into the 1990s. On behalf of the Club, in June 1974, he launched an attack on vandalism, saying in the House of Commons that those who defaced public buildings with aerosol paint should be made to clean the buildings themselves. He sought leave to introduce a Bill in parliament in October 1974 to restore capital punishment.

The following January, referring to the murder of a London policeman by a Provisional Irish Republican Army gunman, he said that "the answer was return of capital punishment" and added that "if the police want arms, no government could now refuse". He was on the editorial board which prepared the Club's October 1985 Conservative Party Conference issue of their newspaper, Right Ahead, to which he contributed a lengthy article entitled How Tories are Subsidising the Soviet War Machine. In the mid-1980s he said, "Nelson Mandela should be shot." On 30 March 1990, he was the guest speaker at the Club's Surrey branch 21st Anniversary Dinner. He was an honorary vice-president of the Club until at least 1992.

Scottish issues[edit]

As Opposition Front Bench Spokesman on Scottish Affairs, Taylor said in November 1974 that a general directive to the National Coal Board should follow the guidelines of the Social Contract in any wage settlement. He said that the Labour government were being "thoroughly cowardly and hypocritical over the Social Contract" and asked the government spokesman in the House of Commons whether it was "just a sick joke".

In shadow cabinet[edit]

He was politically close to Margaret Thatcher and served as her Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. He was expected to become her Secretary of State for Scotland if he held his seat at the 1979 election.

Rejection by the electorate and winning new seat[edit]

At the 1979 election, Scotland bucked the British trend by showing a slight swing from Conservative to Labour, and Taylor lost his seat, the only Conservative MP at that election (other than by-election victors) to do so. Taylor re-entered Parliament at a 1980 by-election for Southend East following the death of Stephen McAdden and then, from 1997, represented Rochford and Southend East. He did not serve in government after his return but received a knighthood in 1991.

Prior to being selected to fight the Southend by-election, Taylor had been a candidate for the Rectorship of the University of Dundee. He was favourite to win but pulled out of the election at the last minute to contest the parliamentary seat.[1]

Policies and retirement[edit]

He supported withdrawal from the European Union, the reintroduction of capital punishment and of judicial corporal punishment of young offenders (birching, which had been abolished in 1947). During John Major's government, he was one of the Maastricht Rebels and was expelled from the parliamentary party.

Taylor stood down at the 2005 general election.


Taylor was a founding supporter of Unite Against Fascism.[2]

Have I Got News for You[edit]

In 1994, Taylor made a memorably idiosyncratic appearance on the BBC comedy panel show Have I Got News for You. He appeared to be unaware of the light-hearted nature of the programme and so attempted to use it as a forum for serious political debate. However, he also drew applause when he revealed that he was a big fan of Bob Marley.[3] That announcement led to an invitation, which he accepted, to present the prizes at the British Reggae Awards taking place a week later.[citation needed].

Other media work[edit]

In 2002 Taylor was a 'victim' of one of Ali G's famous spoof interviews.

He is one of two surviving panel members of the first edition of the BBC programme Question Time in 1979, the other being Edna O'Brien.

Taylor was interviewed in 2012 as part of The History of Parliament's oral history project.[4][5]


  1. ^ "Rectorial Elections". Archives, Records and Artefacts at the University of Dundee. University of Dundee. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Founding signatories United Against Fascism, 17 April 2010
  3. ^ Have I Got News For You, series 8, episode 5 on YouTube
  4. ^ "Oral history: TAYLOR, Teddy". The History of Parliament. Retrieved 14 July 2016. 
  5. ^ "Lord Taverne interviewed by Jason Lower". British Library Sound Archive. Retrieved 14 July 2016. 


  • Copping, Robert, The Monday Club – Crisis and After, Current Affairs Information Service, Ilford, Essex, May 1975, (P/B), pps: 17, 20, 22
  • Taylor, Teddy, MP, and David Storey, The Conservative Party & The Common Market, published by the Conservative Monday Club, July 1982, (P/B)
  • Taylor, Teddy, MP, Proposals to Rescue the British Fishing Industry, Monday Club Policy Paper, December 1982
  • Taylor, Teddy, MP, How Tories are Subsidising the Soviet War Machine, in Right Ahead newspaper published by the Conservative Monday Club, October 1985 Conservative Party Conference issue
  • Taylor, Teddy, MP, The EEC – The Other Side of the Coin, in Right Ahead newspaper published by the Conservative Monday Club, October 1989 Conservative Party Conference issue

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Henderson
Member of Parliament for Glasgow Cathcart
Succeeded by
John Maxton
Preceded by
Sir Stephen McAdden
Member of Parliament for Southend East
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Rochford and Southend East
Succeeded by
James Duddridge
Preceded by
Paul Channon
Baby of the House
Succeeded by
David Steel