William McCarthy, Baron McCarthy

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William Edward John McCarthy, Baron McCarthy (30 July 1925 – 18 November 2012)[1] was a British Labour politician. McCarthy was a fellow of Nuffield College and Templeton College, Oxford[2] and a specialist in industrial relations. He was created a life peer in 1976. From 1979 to 1997 he was Opposition Spokesperson for Employment. McCarthy was described as "one of Britain’s most influential academics in the field of industrial relations, a painstaking arbiter in the most testing of disputes.. "[3]

McCarthy grew up in Islington, London and attended Holloway County School (now Holloway School).[4] He then worked in a gentlemen's outfitter, where he was a representative of the Usdaw trade union which sponsored him to study for a diploma at Ruskin College, Oxford. He then achieved a first class honours degree in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at Merton College, Oxford and a DPhil at Nuffield College, Oxford. He remained at Oxford as a research fellow.[5]

In 1965 he was appointed research director of the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers’ Associations. The body was set up by the Harold Wilson government and led to the failed "In Place of Strife" reforms proposed by Barbara Castle. In the following three years McCarthy carried out extensive research, particularly into the election of shop stewards.[3]

In 1978 McCarty was involved in the arbitration in the dispute over bonuses for drivers of the high-speed Advanced Passenger Train. ASLEF, the train-drivers’ union insisted that the bonus be paid to all its members and went on strike in protest. McCarthy ruled that only those driving at more than 100 mph should receive the bonus, but it took the union a year to accept the ruling.[3]

McCarthy was a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association. [1].

Selected works[edit]

  • The Closed Shop in Britain (1964)
  • The Role of Shop Stewards in British Industrial Relations (1966)
  • Trade Unions (1972, 1985)
  • Coming to Terms with Trade Unions (1973)
  • Strikes in Post-War Britain (1983)
  • Fairness at Work (1999)


  1. ^ "Mr William McCarthy". Hansard. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  2. ^ William Edward John McCarthy. New Labour at Work. Institute for Public Policy Research. ISBN 978-1-86030-059-2. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "Lord McCarthy: Telegraph obituary" at telegraph.co.uk
  4. ^ Old Camdenians. Retrieved 31 January 2015
  5. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/nov/19/lord-mccarthy The Guardian Obituary. Retrieved 19 November 2012