Tag Archives: john grant

Memoirs of a moderate man

Those of us of a certain age may have some recollection of John Grant as a Labour MP who defected to the SDP but he was much more than that.

In his book Blood Brothers: Division and Decline of Britain’s Trade Unions he paints a vivid picture of a life in the Labour movement, part history, part autobiography. Born in 1932 in Finsbury Park Grant became a journalist eventually working for the Daily Express as its Chief Industrial Correspondent. In that role he covered a number of high profile strikes, the political climate in which they occurred and rubbed shoulders with a host of prominent union leaders.

Moving on to be a Labour MP his media skills were utilised both by Harold Wilson and  his successor James Callaghan. In the 1974-79 Labour government ministerial office came his way as a Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department of Employment. In that job he played a part in piloting the 1976 Race Relations Act through parliament, increased wages council enforcement  and introduced measures to help more disabled people into work. He was also the minister who authorised work permits for Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa when they signed for Tottenham Hotspur.

His personal relationships with union general secretaries were often utilised to good effect. On one occasion he was asked by Wilson to make an urgent phone call to Ray Buckton leader of the train drivers union ASLEF urging the postponement of a rail strike in the middle of a General Election campaign.

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