Patrick Gordon Walker

Patrick Gordon Walker

Infobox Politician
honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable
name = Patrick Gordon Walker
honorific-suffix =
Baron Gordon-Walker CH, PC

width =
height =
caption =

office3 = Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
primeminister3=Clement Attlee
term_start3 = 28 February, 1950
term_end3 = 26 October, 1951
predecessor3 = Philip Noel-Baker
successor3 = Hastings Ismay
primeminister2=Harold Wilson
office2 = Foreign Secretary
term_start2 = 16 October, 1964
term_end2 = 22 January, 1965
predecessor2 = Richard Austen Butler
successor2 = Michael Stewart
office=Secretary of State for Education and Science
primeminister=Harold Wilson
term_start=29 August, 1967
term_end=6 April, 1968
predecessor=Anthony Crosland
successor=Edward Short
birth_date = birth date|1907|4|7|df=y
birth_place = Worthing, Sussex, England
death_date = death date and age|1980|12|2|1907|4|7|df=y
death_place = London, England
party = Labour Party
relations =
spouse =
civil partner =
children =
residence =
occupation =
religion =

website =
footnotes =

Patrick Chrestien Gordon Walker, Baron Gordon-Walker CH , PC (7 April, 1907 – 2 December, 1980) was a British Labour Party politician. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) for nearly thirty years, and served twice as a Cabinet minster. He is best-remembered for the circumstances surrounding the loss of his Smethwick parliamentary seat at the 1964 general election, in a bitterly racial campaign.

Early life

Born in Worthing, Sussex, Gordon Walker was the son of Alan Lachlan Gordon Walker, a Scottish Judge in the Indian Civil Service. He was educated at Wellington College and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he served as history tutor until 1941."The Times", 3 December, 1980, p.19 col.6]

From 1940 to 1944, he worked for the BBC's European Service, where from 1942 he arranged the BBC's daily broadcasts to Germany. In 1945 he worked as Assistant Director of BBC's German Service working from Radio Luxembourg, travelling with the British forces. He broadcast about the liberation of the German concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, and wrote a book on the subject called "The Lid Lifts".Pearce (2004)]

From 1946 to 1948, he was Chairman of the British Film Institute. [ "BFI Annual Reports", London: BFI]

Political career

He first stood for Parliament at the 1935 general election, when he was unsuccessful in the Conservative-held Oxford constituency.

Gordon Walker did not contest the 1945 general election, but was elected later in 1945 as Member of Parliament (MP) for Smethwick in a by-election on 1 October, after Labour's Alfred Dobbs had been killed in a car accident one day after winning the seat at the 1945 general election.

Once in Parliament, Gordon Walker was promoted rapidly through the ranks of Clement Attlee's Labour government. In 1946, he was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Herbert Morrison, the Leader of the House of Commons. From 1947 to 1950 he was a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Commonwealth Relations Office, and in 1950 he joined the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, serving until Labour's defeat at the 1951 general election.

At the 1964 general election, following a successful career in opposition, he was destined to become Foreign Secretary in a widely anticipated Labour government. However, Gordon Walker was defeated in controversial circumstances by the Conservative candidate Peter Griffiths. Smethwick had been a focus of immigration from the Commonwealth in the economic and industrial growth of the years following World War II and Griffiths ran a campaign critical of the opposition's, and the government's, policy. There were rumours that Griffiths' supporters had covertly circulated the slogan If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour. Many felt that Gordon Walker had pandered to such sentiment when his local party ran an eve-of-poll leaflet saying: [ cite web | author=Gareth Jenkins | title=Labour and immigration: the badge of prejudice | work=Socialist Review | year=1999 | pages=No.234 | accessdate=2007-08-26 | url= ]

His reputation on racial issues was further damaged by the accusation that, while at the Commonwealth Office in 1951, he had obstructed Seretse Khama's chieftancy of Bechuanaland under pressure from South Africa's objections to Khama's marriage to a white woman.

Nevertheless, he was appointed to the Foreign Office by Harold Wilson and stood for the safe Labour constituency of Leyton in the Leyton by-election in January 1965, losing again, and was forced to resign as Foreign Secretary. After a sabbatical conducting research in Southeast Asia,Fact|date=August 2007 he finally won Leyton in the 1966 general election. Following this election, he served in the Cabinet in 1967-8, first as Minister without Portfolio, then as Secretary of State for Education and Science. On his retirement from the Cabinet in 1968, he was made a Companion of Honour.

Gordon-Walker retired from the House of Commons at the 1974 general election. On 4 July that year he was made a life peer as Baron Gordon-Walker, of Leyton in the County of Essex in 1974 and was briefly a Member of the European Parliament.

Gordon Walker died in London, aged 73.

See also

* Smethwick (UK Parliament constituency)
* Smethwick by-election, 1945
* Leyton (UK Parliament constituency)
* Leyton by-election, 1965



By Gordon Walker

*cite book |last=Gordon Walker |first=P. C. |coauthors= |title=An Outline of Man’s History |year=1939 |publisher=N.C.L.C. Publishing Society |location=London |isbn=
*cite book |author=— |title=Restatement of Liberty |year=1951 |publisher=Hutchinson |location=London |isbn=
*cite book |author=— |title=The Lid Lifts: An Account of the Author’s Experiences During Two Visits to Occupied Germany in the Spring of 1945 |year=1945 |publisher=Victor Gollancz |location=London |isbn=
*cite book |author=— |title=The Commonwealth |year=1962 |publisher=Secker & Warburg |location=London |isbn
*cite book |author=— |title=The Cabinet |year=1970 |publisher=Cape |location=London |isbn=0224618199
*cite book |author=— |editor=Robert Pearce (editor) |title=Patrick Gordon Walker: Political Diaries 1932-1971 |year=c. 1991 |publisher=Historians' Press |location=London |isbn=187227305X


*"The Times", 3 December, 1980

About Gordon Walker

* cite book | author=Griffiths, P. | authorlink=Peter Griffiths | title=A Question Of Colour. The Smethwick Election Of 1964 | location=London | publisher=Leslie Frewin | year=1966
*Pearce, R. (2004) " [, Walker, Patrick Chrestien Gordon, Baron Gordon-Walker (1907–1980)] ", "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, accessed 26 August 2007 ODNBsub
* cite book | author=Prem, D. R. | title=Parliamentary Leper: A History of Colour Prejudice in Britain | publisher=Metric Publications | location=Aligarh University Press | year=1965

External links

* [ Janus: Papers of Baron Gordon-Walker]
* [ BBC Recording of Gordon-Walker reporting from newly liberated Bergen Belsen]


NAME=Gordon Walker, Patrick Chrestien
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Baron Gordon-Walker, of Leyton
SHORT DESCRIPTION=British Labour Party politician.
DATE OF BIRTH=7 April, 1907
DATE OF DEATH=2 December, 1980

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