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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK
Peter Shore: Principled man of politics
Peter Shore
Lord Shore was a fervent campaigner against European federalism
Former Labour cabinet minister Lord Shore of Stepney has died aged 77, it has been announced.

He died at St Thomas' Hospital in central London, a hospital spokesman said on Monday.

Peter Shore twice contested the Labour Party leadership, but was easily defeated, and instead re-dedicated himself to his mission of curbing Britain's growing involvement in Europe.

His background was solidly middle-class; his father was a Merchant Navy captain and Peter was educated at a Liverpool grammar school and at King's College, Cambridge. He graduated with an Honours degree in history, but later specialised in political economics.

After serving with the RAF in the Second World War, he joined the Labour Party in 1948 and became head of the Research Department in 1959.

He was elected to Parliament for the London borough of Stepney in 1964, and, with his expertise in research, was the principal draughtsman of Labour's election manifesto for that year.

A young Peter Shore in the 1960s
On his way up in the 1960s
When Harold Wilson arrived at Number 10, Peter Shore became one of the prime minister's parliamentary private secretaries.

He enjoyed the close confidence of Wilson and was regarded as his protégé. He became joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology and then to the Department for Economic Affairs.

Peter Shore was 43 when, in August 1967, Harold Wilson put him in charge of economic affairs and made him the youngest member of the Cabinet, just three years after entering the Commons. At the outset, he declared his belief in state intervention in prices and wages to control the economy.

He believed industry needed the three Rs: reorganisation, re-equipment and re-training. But he soon encountered difficulties, and his position was not made easier by the fact that, though he was a secretary of state, his department was subject to the prime minister's overlordship.

Peter Shore in pensive mood
As shadow chancellor
His views on wage controls brought him into conflict with the unions, and with factions within his East End constituency, and he came under increasing criticism in the Commons. By the spring of 1968, it was being suggested that his department could well be absorbed by the Treasury.

After a Cabinet reshuffle in April, the Secretary of State for the new Department of Employment and Productivity, Barbara Castle, took over responsibility for prices and incomes, and 18 months later the Department for Economic Affairs was dissolved.

Peter Shore became a Cabinet minister without Portfolio, and soon after, Deputy Leader of the Commons.

When Labour returned to power in 1974, he became Secretary for Trade, and in 1976, Jim Callaghan made him Environment Secretary, a post which involved him in more controversy.

He urged local authorities to cut spending and spoke out against what he saw as the failure of management to invest and modernise, and of unions to overcome their resistance to change.

Peter Shore, arm outstretched, in passionate mood over Europe
Arguing his case against European ties
On housing, he tried to extend owner-occupation and made the renewal of inner cities a personal crusade. He supported the idea of a nuclear reprocessing plant at Windscale.

When Labour lost the 1979 election, Jim Callaghan gave Peter Shore the job of Shadow Foreign Secretary. But when he ran for the Labour leadership in 1980 and 1983, a time when the Left were at their peak, he was easily defeated first by Michael Foot, then by Neil Kinnock.

Peter Shore's integrity and oratory were highly respected by his colleagues, but he never achieved widespread support.

Peter Shore's political passion was his hostility to European federalism. He was always a strong opponent of Britain's membership of a European union.

Peter Shore is interviewed on television
Coping with television inquisitors
From 1970, when Labour were in opposition, he was their front bench spokesman on European affairs and contested every stage of the Conservative government's Common Market legislation.

During the 1975 referendum campaign, he led the group calling for Britain's withdrawal from Europe and repeatedly called on consumers and industry to buy British goods.

Peter Shore became Lord Shore of Stepney when he retired from the Commons in 1997, but as a peer, still resolutely maintained his opposition to any greater ties with Europe.

His book at the end of the millennium advocated a multi-speed, multi-level Europe, which would allow the hard core to forge ahead with their own form of unity, while other countries would be associate members.

With his reputation for integrity, Peter Shore was a natural choice to serve on the Nolan Committee, which sought to improve standards in public life.

Throughout British politics, whether his views were accepted or not, he commanded respect as a man of principle.

See also:

12 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Labour veteran Shore collapses in Lords
13 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Lord Shore 'stable' after collapse
05 Nov 98 | UK Politics
Lords in Euro votes stand-off
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