Lord Shawcross

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Died in 2003.

Shawcross was appointed President of the Board of Trade in April 1951, after the resignation of Harold Wilson, but his term of office ended with the defeat of the Labour government in the General Election that October.

By that time he had already begun to move to the Right. Though he had originally been on the firebreathing wing of his party, and strongly pro-Russian, his experience of Soviet delegates soon disillusioned him.

When Shawcross resigned as an MP in 1958 (he had represented St Helens since 1945) he pleaded private and family reasons, but it had long been known that he disagreed with many Labour policies; indeed, he had been christened by Bernard Levin "Sir Shortly Floorcross". He later explained that he left party politics mainly because "I found it utterly tedious to have to conform to the doctrine that it is the duty of the opposition to oppose".

Created a life peer as Lord Shawcross in 1959, he sat as a crossbencher in the Lords. Though he spoke frequently, and often controversially, outside the chamber, his reluctance to take up the cudgels with former colleagues meant that he waited 15 years before making his maiden speech, on Hong Kong.

"...In October 1974 he poured scorn on a Labour Party pamphlet that recommended the application of "internal democracy" to editorial policy....From 1969 to 1980 Shawcross was chairman of the Panel on Take-Overs and Mergers. His puritanical nature was outraged by the activities of the City slickers, and he expressed frustration that his powers did not always allow him to bring the "evil-doers" to account.

"Shawcross observed that those of his friends who retired tended to feature in the obituaries columns shortly afterwards, and he succeeded in postponing that accolade by accepting a multitude of appointments. By his own reckoning "a bit of a hypochondriac", he was chairman of the Medical Research Council from 1961 to 1965, and an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1965 he joined Morgan Guaranty Trust, serving as chairman of its International Advisory Council from 1967 to 1974, and afterwards as a special adviser.

"Shawcross was Chancellor of Sussex University from 1965 to 1985, and chairman of the Board of Governors of Dulwich College. He was president of the British Hotels' and Restaurants' Association (1959 to 1971), and chairman of Thames Television (1969 to 1974).

"He also collected an impressive series of directorships, among them at Shell (1961-72); EMI (1965-81); Rank-Hovis-McDougall (1965-79); Times Newspapers (1967-74); BSA (1968-73); Hawker Siddeley Group (1968-82); and the Observer (1981-93).

"Although he was not strong enough to take part in the Countryside Alliance's Liberty and Livelihood march in 2002, he made a point of signing its "Marching in Spirit" register. Shawcross long resisted suggestions that he should write his memoirs, holding that he had nothing to apologise for, and nothing to explain. Nevertheless his autobiography, Life Sentence, was published in 1995.bHe was knighted in 1945, and appointed GBE in 1974." [1]

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