Lib Dem Peer John Roper dies at 80

The Manchester Evening News reports that Liberal Democrat peer John Roper, who retired last year, has died at the age of 80:

Lord Roper started his career as an economics lecturer at the University of Manchester before standing for Parliament in High Peak, near Stockport, for Labour in 1964.

He was elected Member of Parliament for Farnworth in 1970.

He sat as a Labour Co-operative MP from 1970 to 1981 and for the SDP for the following two years.

His Farnworth seat was subsequently abolished, and he contested Worsley at the 1983 general election, finishing third in a three-way marginal.

In 2000, he was created a life peer as Baron Roper.

Dick Newby, his successor as the party’s chief whip in the upper chamber, said: “John was, throughout his life, a great servant to social democracy and liberal politics in Britain.

“He was a passionate believer in the European project. He always fought for the idea that Britain’s best interest was working together with our friends across Europe to build a better future for us all.

“John served as chief whip in both the Commons and the Lords and proved to be a natural in the role. He was a great mentor of mine, a fine European and a widely respected chief whip.

“He will be deeply missed.”

Our sympathy to all who knew him. Please feel free to share memories in the comments.

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  • Tony Greaves 30th Jan '16 - 10:50pm

    One of the class of 2000 Liberal Democrat peers appointed by Charles Kennedy after the innovation of a party panel elected by the conference – and the first of us to leave. He was an excellent Chief Whip and went on to chair the European Committee in the Lords – an important position overseeing a large proportion of the HoL select committee scrutiny work. I last talked to him (via email) to discuss the death of Dennis Wrigley prior to writing a piece here – they had both been candidates at the 1961 HIgh Peak by-election, John for Labour and Dennis for the Liberal Party. Dennis used to say he got votes because he could preach in all the chapels. John replied that he drank in all the pubs… (They both told the same story in slightly different ways!) John was a lecturer on politics at Manchester University – he was a colleague at the “Dover Street” department with Michael Steed and William Wallace. Towards the end John remained mentally strong but his body failed him and he retired from the Lords last May.

    Tony Greaves

  • Trevor Smith 31st Jan '16 - 12:15pm

    John was a great friend and, though frail, lucid and au fait to the end. I entirely agree with both Dick Newby and Tony Greaves that he was an excellent Chef Whip. While Tony is right that he worked in Dover Street when on the academic staff of Manchester University, he was in the Economics Department, not Politics. He was also a steadfast EU supporter. He will be greatly missed.

  • Lord Roper was the first Parliamentarian I encountered at my first Conference, at the newbies’ event in York in 2014. He was warm, generous and genuinely interested, and he, Lord Paddick and Lord Newby were a fantastic and welcoming triple act. It was only later that I realised quite who I’d been talking to. Very sad to hear this news. January has been a cruel month.

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