Lord Pendry celebrates half century in politics

LORD Pendry has just completed a remarkable 50 years as a parliamentarian.

And aged 86, he continues to service the people of Stalybridge and Hyde.

It was back on June 18, 1970 that Tom Pendry was elected MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, the fulfilment of a boyhood ambition.

Lord Pendry, who this year also celebrates being a member of the Labour Party for 70 years, came from a staunch socialist family.

He described his mother Elizabeth as his inspiration – she was a member of the Independent Labour Party before its reinvention.

And his interest in politics intensified during the Second World War when he was evacuated from Broadstairs, Kent, to Blaydon-on-Tyne in the North East.

As a boy he recalled sitting at the feet of Durham miners at Labour meetings.

Tom Pendry moved from Derby to live in the Stalybridge and Hyde constituency following his election as MP. He initially lived in Tintwistle until boundary changes moved the village and the nearby reservoirs into the High Peak constituency.

After that he moved back into the constituency in Broadbottom and latterly lived in Stalybridge opposite Stalybridge Celtic, where a stand is named in his honour.

It was only last year Lord Pendry left to return to live at birthplace Broadstairs.

Tom Pendry served as MP for Stalybridge and Hyde between 1970 and 2001, serving as a minister in the Governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan and in Tony Blair’s shadow cabinet as minister for sport and tourism.

To mark 25 years as MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, Tameside Council afforded Tom Pendry the honorary title of Lord Mottram of Longdendale.

But immediately after his retirement as MP in 2001, he was handed a peerage to become Lord Pendry of Stalybridge.

He continues to serve in the House of Lords and currently working remotely and voting on issues from his flat in central London.

Lord Pendry, reflecting on his colourful political career, said: “I can still remember standing at the count in Hyde Town Hall and being declared the winner – the fulfilment of a boyhood ambition.

“I had a small majority of 2,000 and it was 15,000 when I retired so I must have done something right.

“I have been proud to be their representative and have great affection of the people of the area. I also owe them so much.”

Lord Pendry also recalled his first day at Parliament when the new intake also included Neil Kinnock and John Smith, who went on to become party leaders.

He said: “I was still living in Derby and went down on the train from there to London with Chesterfield MPs Dennis Skinner and Eric Varley. We shared a taxi and I arrived at the House of Commons starry eyed.”

During his time serving the constituency, Lord Pendry has had two of the most notorious crimes in British history taking place in Hyde, the Moors Murders and mass killer Dr Harold Shipman. And Lord Pendry is currently writing a book to give a personal insight into both.

Though Lord Pendry’s home is Broadstairs and he also has a base in London, he will not be severing his ties with Tameside.

“If it had not been for lockdown, I would have been coming up at least once a month to watch Stalybridge Celtic,” he said.

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