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Shirley Williams

For the American poet and writer, see Sherley Anne Williams.

Shirley Vivian Teresa Brittain Williams, Baroness Williams of Crosby,CH, PC (née Catlin; 27 July 1930 – 11 April 2021) was a British politician and academic. Originally a Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP), she served in the Labour cabinet from 1974 to 1979. She was one of the "Gang of Four" rebels who founded the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981 and, at the time of her retirement from politics, was a Liberal Democrat.

The Right Honourable
The Baroness Williams of Crosby

Williams in 2014
Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords
In office
7 June 2001 – 24 November 2004
LeaderCharles Kennedy
Preceded byThe Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank
Succeeded byThe Lord McNally
President of the Social Democratic Party
In office
7 July 1982 – 29 August 1987
Leader
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJohn Cartwright
Secretary of State for Education and Science
In office
10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979
Prime MinisterJames Callaghan
Preceded byFred Mulley
Succeeded byMark Carlisle
Paymaster General
In office
10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979
Prime MinisterJames Callaghan
Preceded byEdmund Dell
Succeeded byAngus Maude
Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection
In office
5 March 1974 – 10 September 1976
Prime Minister
Preceded byPeter Walker (as Trade and Industry Secretary)
Succeeded byRoy Hattersley
Ministerial offices1967–⁠1974
Shadow Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection
In office
4 May 1973 – 5 March 1974
LeaderHarold Wilson
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded bySally Oppenheim-Barnes
Shadow Home Secretary
In office
19 October 1971 – 4 May 1973
LeaderHarold Wilson
Preceded byJames Callaghan
Succeeded byRoy Jenkins
Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Services
In office
19 June 1970 – 19 October 1971
LeaderHarold Wilson
Preceded byRichard Crossman
Succeeded byBarbara Castle
Minister of State for Home Affairs
In office
13 October 1969 – 23 June 1970
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byThe Lord Stonham
Succeeded byRichard Sharples
Minister of State for Education and Science
In office
29 August 1967 – 13 October 1969
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byGoronwy Roberts
Succeeded byAlice Bacon
Parliamentary offices
Member of the House of Lords
Life peerage
1 February 1993 – 11 February 2016
Member of Parliament
for Crosby
In office
26 November 1981 – 13 May 1983
Preceded byGraham Page
Succeeded byMalcolm Thornton
Member of Parliament
for Hertford and Stevenage
In office
28 February 1974 – 7 April 1979
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byBowen Wells
Member of Parliament
for Hitchin
In office
15 October 1964 – 8 February 1974
Preceded byMartin Maddan
Succeeded byIan Stewart
Personal details
Born
Shirley Vivian Teresa Brittain Catlin

(1930-07-27)27 July 1930
Chelsea, London, England
Died11 April 2021(2021-04-11) (aged 90)
Political party
Spouse(s)
(m. 1955; div. 1974)​
(m. 1987; died 2003)​
Children1
Parents
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic work
InstitutionsHarvard Kennedy School
Main interestsElectoral politics

Williams was elected to the House of Commons for Hitchin in the 1964 general election. She served as Minister for Education and Science from 1967 to 1969 and Minister of State for Home Affairs from 1969 to 1970. She served as Shadow Home Secretary from 1971 and 1973. In 1974, she became Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection in Harold Wilson's cabinet. When Wilson was succeeded by James Callaghan, she served as Secretary of State for Education and Science and Paymaster General from 1976 to 1979. She lost her seat to the Conservative Party at the 1979 general election.

In 1981, dismayed with the Labour Party's left-ward movement under Michael Foot, she was one of the "Gang of Four"—centrist Labour figures who formed the SDP. Williams won the 1981 Crosby by-election and became the first SDP member elected to Parliament, but she lost the seat in the 1983 general election. She served as President of the SDP from 1982 to 1987 and supported the SDP's merger with the Liberal Party that formed the Liberal Democrats.

Between 2001 and 2004, she served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords and, from 2007 to 2010, as Adviser on Nuclear Proliferation to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. She remained an active member of the House of Lords until announcing her retirement in January 2016, and was a Professor Emerita of Electoral Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University at the time of her death at age 90.

Contents

Born in Chelsea, London, Williams was the daughter of the political scientist and philosopher Sir George Catlin and the feminist and pacifist writer Vera Brittain. She was educated at various schools, including Mrs Spencer's School in Brechin Place, South Kensington; Christchurch Elementary School in Chelsea; Talbot Heath School in Bournemouth; and St Paul's Girls' School in London. During the Second World War, from 1940-1943, she was evacuated to St. Paul, Minnesota, in the United States, where she attended the all-girls' Summit School.

While living in the US, she took a screen test to play Velvet Brown in the 1944 film National Velvet, a role that was eventually given to Elizabeth Taylor. In 1943, on the sea voyage returning to Britain, she narrowly avoided being gang-raped by a group of sailors.

While she was an undergraduate and Open Scholar at Somerville College, Oxford, Williams was a member of the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS) and toured the United States playing the role of Cordelia in an OUDS production of Shakespeare's King Lear directed by a young Tony Richardson. In 1950, she became chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, believing herself to be the first woman to hold the position though it has been shown that Betty Tate had chaired a session in 1934. After graduating as a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, politics and economics, Williams was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and studied American trade unionism at Columbia University in New York City for a master's degree, awarded by Oxford in 1954.

On returning to Britain, she began her career as a journalist, working firstly for the Daily Mirror and then for the Financial Times. In 1960, she became General Secretary of the Fabian Society, a role she held until 1964.

After unsuccessfully contesting the constituency of Harwich at the 1954 by-election and the general election the following year, as well as the constituency of Southampton Test at the 1959 general election, Williams was elected in the 1964 general election as Labour MP for the constituency of Hitchin in Hertfordshire. She retained the seat, renamed Hertford and Stevenage after boundary changes in 1974, until 1979. As Minister for Education and Science (August 1967 – October 1969), Williams launched the first Women in Engineering Year in 1969.

Between 1971 and 1973, she served as Shadow Home Secretary. In 1974, she became Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection in Harold Wilson's cabinet. When Wilson announced his resignation in 1976 and was succeeded by James Callaghan, she became Secretary of State for Education and Paymaster General, holding both cabinet positions at the same time. Williams stood for the Labour deputy leadership in October of that year but lost to Michael Foot.

Comprehensive schools

While serving as education secretary between 1976 and 1979, Williams pursued the policy introduced by Anthony Crosland in 1965 to introduce the comprehensive school system in place of grammar schools. Previously, in 1972, as her daughter Rebecca approached secondary school age, Williams had moved into the catchment area of the voluntary aided school Godolphin and Latymer School allowing her daughter to gain a place there. However, when Godolphin and Latymer School subsequently voted to go independent in 1977, Rebecca chose to leave that school and instead went to Camden School for Girls because it had chosen to go comprehensive.[better source needed]

Europeanism

Always a passionately committed supporter of European integration, Williams was one of 68 Labour MPs to defy a three-line whip in the 28 October 1971 Commons vote on membership of the European Communities. Four years later, she was one of the leaders of the Britain in Europe campaign during the 1975 European Communities membership referendum. Labour's anti-Europeanism during the Michael Foot years was one of the factors that drove her to abandon the party in 1981.

In her 2016 valedictory speech to the House of Lords before that year's second membership referendum, she described the UK's European Union (EU) membership as "the most central political question that this country has to answer" and said it was the reason for her retirement. In closing, she called on her colleagues to "think very hard before allowing the United Kingdom to withdraw from ... its major duty to the world—the one it will encounter, and then deliver, through the European Union".

Williams lost her seat (renamed Hertford and Stevenage) when the Labour Party was defeated at the 1979 general election. Her defeat came two years after her appearance and arrest on the Grunwick picket lines, for which she had been harshly criticised in the press. When, soon afterward, she was interviewed by Robin Day for the BBC's Decision 79 television coverage of the election results, both Norman St John-Stevas – the Conservative's Education Spokesman who had frequently clashed with her at the despatch box – and Merlyn Rees, the outgoing Home Secretary, paid tribute to her.

Following the election, she hosted the BBC1 TV series Shirley Williams in Conversation, interviewing, in turn, a number of political figures, including former West German chancellor Willy Brandt, former Conservative prime minister Edward Heath and her recently deposed colleague James Callaghan. She later appeared on many television and radio discussion programmes in Britain – in particular, the BBC's Question Time, where her 58 appearances earned her a "Most Frequent Panellist" award. During this period, Williams remained a member of the National Executive of the Labour Party. From 1980 to 1981, she was Chairman of the Fabian Society.

In 1981, unhappy with the influence of the more left-wing members of the Labour Party, she resigned her membership to form – along with fellow Labour resignees Roy Jenkins, David Owen and Bill Rodgers – the Social Democratic Party (SDP). They were joined by 28 other Labour MPs and one Conservative. Later that year, following the death of the Conservative MP Sir Graham Page, she won the Crosby by-election and became the first SDP member elected to Parliament. Two years later, however, having become the SDP's President, she lost the seat at the 1983 general election. At the 1987 general election, Williams stood for the SDP in Cambridge, but lost to the sitting Conservative candidate Robert Rhodes James. She then supported the SDP's merger with the Liberal Party that formed the Liberal Democrats.

Sitting beside Peter Ustinov during an episode of the late-night TV discussion programme After Dark, 1989

In 1988, Williams moved to the United States to serve as a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, remaining until 2001, and thereafter as Public Service Professor of Electoral Politics, Emerita. Nonetheless, she remained active in politics and public service in Britain, the United States and internationally. During these years, Williams helped draft constitutions in Russia, Ukraine, and South Africa. She also served as director of Harvard's Project Liberty, an initiative designed to assist the emerging democracies in Central and Eastern Europe; and as a board member and acting director of Harvard's Institute of Politics (IOP). Upon her elevation to the House of Lords in 1993, she returned to the United Kingdom.

Williams was created a life peer on 1 February 1993 as Baroness Williams of Crosby, of Stevenage in the County of Hertfordshire, and subsequently served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords from 2001 to 2004.

Among other non-profit boards, Williams was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the EU's Comité des Sages (Reflection Group) on Social Policy, the Twentieth Century Fund, the Ditchley Foundation, the Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative. She also served as President of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, as Commissioner of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament and as President of the Cambridge University Liberal Association. Williams was also an attendee of the 2013 and the 2010 Bilderberg conferences in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, and Sitges, Spain, respectively.

In June 2007, after Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair as Prime Minister, Williams accepted a formal Government position as Advisor on Nuclear Proliferation provided she could serve as an independent advisor; she remained a Liberal Democrat. Her interest and commitment to education continued, and she served as Chair of Judges of the British Teaching Awards. Williams was a member of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation, established in October 2009.

Williams was originally opposed to the Cameron–Clegg coalition's Health and Social Care Bill, describing it as "stealth privatisation" during 2011. The government made some changes to the Bill, described by Williams as "major concessions", but dismissed as "minor" by Guardian commentator Polly Toynbee. Williams urged Liberal Democrats to support the amended Bill during the conference in March 2012, saying "I would not have stuck with the bill, if I believed for one moment it would undermine the NHS."

Williams spoke against gay marriage in the House of Lords, saying that "equality is not the same as sameness. That is the fundamental mistake in this Bill" and that women and men "complement one another", arguing that marriage between people of the same sex should not be called marriage but should have "different nomenclature". In late 2015, she announced her intention to retire from the House of Lords. On 28 January 2016 she made her valedictory speech in the chamber, and on 11 February she officially retired, in pursuance of Section 1 of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014. In the 2017 New Year Honours, Williams was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour for "services to political and public life".

Williams married twice. At Oxford she met Peter Parker (the future head of British Rail) and they had a relationship. In her autobiography (Climbing the Bookshelves) Williams said that "...by the spring of 1949 I was in love with him, and he, a little, with me...". In 1955, she married the moral philosopher Bernard Williams. Bernard left Oxford to accommodate his wife's rising political ambitions, finding a post first at University College London (1959–64) and then as Professor of Philosophy at Bedford College, London (1964–67), while she worked as a journalist for the Financial Times and as Secretary of the Fabian Society. The marriage was dissolved in 1974; Bernard Williams subsequently married Patricia Skinner and had two sons with her. Shirley said of her marriage to Bernard:

... [T]here was something of a strain that comes from two things. One is that we were both too caught up in what we were respectively doing — we didn't spend all that much time together; the other, to be completely honest, is that I'm fairly unjudgmental and I found Bernard's capacity for pretty sharp putting-down of people he thought were stupid unacceptable. Patricia has been cleverer than me in that respect. She just rides it. He can be very painful sometimes. He can eviscerate somebody. Those who are left behind are, as it were, dead personalities. Judge not that ye be not judged. I was influenced by Christian thinking, and he would say "That's frightfully pompous and it's not really the point." So we had a certain jarring over that and over Catholicism.

Her first marriage was annulled in 1980. In 1987 she married the Harvard professor and presidential historian Richard Neustadt, who died in 2003.

She had a daughter with Bernard Williams, a stepdaughter, and two grandchildren. Her daughter, Rebecca, became a lawyer.

Williams was a Roman Catholic and, from 2009, attended church every Sunday. In Who's Who, she listed her recreations as "music, poetry, hill walking".

Williams died on 11 April 2021, at the age of 90. Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called Williams a "Liberal lion and a true trailblazer".

Williams was made an Honorary Fellow of her alma mater, Somerville College, Oxford, in 1970, and of Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1977. Williams received a number of honorary doctorates:

Shirley Williams wrote several books, including:

For details of Williams's early life see:

  • Vera Brittain: A Life by Paul Berry and Mark Bostridge (1995).
  • Testament of Experience by Vera Brittain (1957).

There is a substantial article on Shirley Williams by Phillip Whitehead in the Dictionary of Labour Biography, edited by Greg Rosen, Politico's Publishing, 2001, and one by Dick Newby in the Dictionary of Liberal Biography, edited by Duncan Brack, Politico's Publishing, 1998.

See also:

Coat of arms of Shirley Williams
Coronet
A Coronet of a Baroness
Escutcheon
Per chevron Azure and Or three Lions passant guardant in pale counterchanged a Bordure engrailed Ermine
Motto
Quamdiu (Until)
  1. Langdon, Julia (12 April 2021). "Lady Williams of Crosby obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved12 April 2021.
  2. The SDP later merged with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Democrats.
  3. "Former Hitchin and Stevenage MP Shirley Williams dies aged 90," by Maya Derrick, The Comet (Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock), April 12, 2021
  4. "Lady Williams of Crosby obituary Labour minister in the 60s and 70s who defected to form the SDP as one of the Gang of Four," by Julia Langdon, The Guardian, April 12, 2021
  5. "Shirley Williams: Pioneer who tried to reshape politics". BBC News. 12 April 2021.
  6. Jean Tate; Annie Sedley; Sue Tate (1 April 2010). "Betty Tate obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved8 July 2021.
  7. Marquand, Robert (3 April 1991). "Shirley Williams". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved12 April 2021.
  8. "Williams of Crosby, Baroness, (Shirley Vivian Teresa Brittain Williams) (born 27 July 1930)". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u39901. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4. Retrieved15 April 2021.
  9. "The Woman Engineer Vol 10". www2.theiet.org. Retrieved7 March 2020.
  10. Shirley Williams Climbing The Bookshelves: Autobiography of Shirley Williams, Virago, 2009, p. 206.
  11. Agar, Stephen (24 April 2021). "Rod's Wrong". The Spectator: 31.
  12. Hansard, House of Lords, 28 January 2016, c1470-71.
  13. Kettle, Martin (17 December 2015). "Britain's pro-Europeans need to find a Shirley Williams". The Guardian. Retrieved13 April 2021.
  14. Ludlow, N. Piers (19 November 2014). "Safeguarding British identity or betraying it?: the role of British 'tradition' in the parliamentary great debate on EC membership, October 1971"(PDF). Journal of Common Market Studies. John Wiley & Sons on behalf of UACES. 53 (1): 18–34. doi:10.1111/jcms.12202. ISSN 0021-9886. S2CID 145092199.
  15. Hansard, European Communities, HC Deb 28 October 1971 vol 823 cc2076-217.
  16. "Shirley Williams makes her final speech to House of Lords (video)". BBC News. 28 January 2016. Retrieved13 April 2021.
  17. "BBC Rewind: Shirley Williams loses Hertford and Stevenage. Clip taken from Decision 79, first broadcast 4 May 1979". BBC News. 17 November 2014. Retrieved12 April 2021.
  18. Heffer, Simon (7 February 2020). "Free speech in an uncivil society". The Critic Magazine. Retrieved12 April 2021.
  19. "Bfi | Film & Tv Database | Shirley Williams In Conversation". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved11 June 2010.
  20. "MPs and Lords: Baroness Williams of Crosby". UK Parliament. Retrieved13 April 2021. Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, 1 July 1970 – 1 March 1981
  21. "Shirley Williams (In Memoriam)". Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved14 April 2021.
  22. "Shirley Williams, Labour Cabinet minister who left her party to help form the SDP – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 12 April 2021. Retrieved13 April 2021.
  23. "Shirley Williams: One of the UK's best-loved politicians". The Independent. 12 April 2021. Retrieved13 April 2021.
  24. "No. 53207". The London Gazette. 4 February 1993. p. 2049.
  25. "Shirley Williams". Liberal History. Retrieved12 April 2021.
  26. "Commission Establishes a 'Comité des Sages' on Social Policy", 4 October 1995 Retrieved 11 June 2011
  27. Bilderberg Meetings official website 2010 attendee list "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 June 2010. Retrieved17 June 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. Borger, Julian (8 September 2009). "Nuclear-free world ultimate aim of new cross-party pressure group". The Guardian. London.
  29. Helm, Toby (12 March 2011). "Shirley Williams urges Lib Dems to fight Andrew Lansley's NHS plan". The Guardian. Manchester. Retrieved19 March 2012.
  30. Williams, Shirley (3 February 2012). "Our NHS bill amendments represent a major concession by the government". The Guardian. Manchester. Retrieved19 March 2012.
  31. Toynbee, Polly (12 March 2012). "Sorry, Shirley Williams, but I have to nail your health bill myths". The Guardian. Manchester, UK. Retrieved14 March 2012.
  32. Trilling, Daniel (11 March 2012). "Could NHS reform be the Lib Dems' downfall?". New Statesman. UK. Retrieved1 April 2012.
  33. Wintour, Patrick (11 March 2012). "How Nick Clegg and Shirley Williams lost the great NHS debate". The Guardian. Manchester. Retrieved19 March 2012.
  34. "House of Lords 17 June 2013". Hansard. 17 June 2013.
  35. Mason, Rowena (17 December 2015). "Shirley Williams to retire from Lords after 50 years in politics". The Guardian. Retrieved18 December 2015.
  36. "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N27.
  37. "Mrs Williams agrees to divorce". The Glasgow Herald. 4 May 1974. p. 11. Retrieved3 January 2017.
  38. Jeffries, Stuart. "The Quest for Truth" The Guardian, 30 November 2002.
  39. Jeffries, Stuart (30 November 2002). "The quest for truth". Guardian Books. Retrieved12 April 2021. After the divorce in 1974, Bernard married Patricia, but Shirley Williams had to wait for the Catholic church to annul the marriage before she could remarry.
  40. Padman, Tony (15 May 2015). "Shirley Williams: My family values". The Guardian.
  41. Williams, Shirley (2009). Climbing the bookshelves (1st ed.). p. 294. ISBN 978-1-84408-476-0.
  42. "Baroness Shirley Williams: Former cabinet minister dies aged 90". BBC News. 12 April 2021. Retrieved12 April 2021.
  43. webperson@hw.ac.uk. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". www1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved5 April 2016.
  44. Toynbee, Polly (3 October 2009). "Climbing the Bookshelves by Shirley Williams | Book review". The Guardian. Retrieved13 April 2021.
  45. Williams, Shirley (September 2003). "God & Caesar: Personal Reflections on Politics and Religion". The International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law. 6 (1). Retrieved13 April 2021 – via International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law (www.icnl.org).
  46. Williams, Shirley (1 January 1993). Ambition and Beyond: The Career Paths of American Politicians. Institute of Governmental Studies Press, University of California, Berkeley. ISBN 9780877723387. Retrieved13 April 2021 – via Google Books.
  47. Williams, Shirley (1 July 1988). The New Party – the New Technology. Liberal Democrat Publications. ISBN 9781851870752. Retrieved13 April 2021 – via Google Books.
  48. "Politics is for People — Shirley Williams". Harvard University Press. Retrieved13 April 2021.
  49. Gollard, Russell (13 April 1996). "Vera Brittain: A Life (review)". Literature and Medicine. 15 (2): 266–270. doi:10.1353/lm.1996.0017. S2CID 142574197 – via Project MUSE.
  50. Vera Brittain (1979). Testament of Experience: An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1925-50. google.co.uk/books. Virago. ISBN 9780860681106.
  51. "Roy Jenkins: A Well Rounded Life review – 'a magnificent biography'". The Guardian. 23 March 2014. Retrieved13 April 2021.
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Shirley Williams
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Shirley Williams Language Watch Edit For the American poet and writer see Sherley Anne Williams Shirley Vivian Teresa Brittain Williams Baroness Williams of Crosby CH PC nee Catlin 27 July 1930 11 April 2021 1 was a British politician and academic Originally a Labour Party Member of Parliament MP she served in the Labour cabinet from 1974 to 1979 She was one of the Gang of Four rebels who founded the Social Democratic Party SDP in 1981 and at the time of her retirement from politics was a Liberal Democrat 2 The Right Honourable The Baroness Williams of Crosby CH PCWilliams in 2014Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of LordsIn office 7 June 2001 24 November 2004LeaderCharles KennedyPreceded byThe Lord Rodgers of Quarry BankSucceeded byThe Lord McNallyPresident of the Social Democratic PartyIn office 7 July 1982 29 August 1987LeaderRoy Jenkins David OwenPreceded byOffice establishedSucceeded byJohn CartwrightSecretary of State for Education and ScienceIn office 10 September 1976 4 May 1979Prime MinisterJames CallaghanPreceded byFred MulleySucceeded byMark CarlislePaymaster GeneralIn office 10 September 1976 4 May 1979Prime MinisterJames CallaghanPreceded byEdmund DellSucceeded byAngus MaudeSecretary of State for Prices and Consumer ProtectionIn office 5 March 1974 10 September 1976Prime MinisterHarold Wilson James CallaghanPreceded byPeter Walker as Trade and Industry Secretary Succeeded byRoy HattersleyMinisterial offices 1967 1974Shadow Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer ProtectionIn office 4 May 1973 5 March 1974LeaderHarold WilsonPreceded byOffice establishedSucceeded bySally Oppenheim BarnesShadow Home SecretaryIn office 19 October 1971 4 May 1973LeaderHarold WilsonPreceded byJames CallaghanSucceeded byRoy JenkinsShadow Secretary of State for Health and Social ServicesIn office 19 June 1970 19 October 1971LeaderHarold WilsonPreceded byRichard CrossmanSucceeded byBarbara CastleMinister of State for Home AffairsIn office 13 October 1969 23 June 1970Prime MinisterHarold WilsonPreceded byThe Lord StonhamSucceeded byRichard SharplesMinister of State for Education and ScienceIn office 29 August 1967 13 October 1969Prime MinisterHarold WilsonPreceded byGoronwy RobertsSucceeded byAlice BaconParliamentary officesMember of the House of LordsLord TemporalLife peerage 1 February 1993 11 February 2016Member of Parliament for CrosbyIn office 26 November 1981 13 May 1983Preceded byGraham PageSucceeded byMalcolm ThorntonMember of Parliament for Hertford and StevenageIn office 28 February 1974 7 April 1979Preceded byConstituency establishedSucceeded byBowen WellsMember of Parliament for HitchinIn office 15 October 1964 8 February 1974Preceded byMartin MaddanSucceeded byIan StewartPersonal detailsBornShirley Vivian Teresa Brittain Catlin 1930 07 27 27 July 1930 Chelsea London EnglandDied11 April 2021 2021 04 11 aged 90 Political partyLabour before 1981 SDP 1981 1988 Liberal Democrats from 1988 Spouse s Bernard Williams m 1955 div 1974 wbr Richard Neustadt m 1987 died 2003 wbr Children1ParentsVera Brittain mother Sir George Catlin father Academic backgroundAlma materSomerville College Oxford Columbia UniversityAcademic workInstitutionsHarvard Kennedy SchoolMain interestsElectoral politics Williams was elected to the House of Commons for Hitchin in the 1964 general election She served as Minister for Education and Science from 1967 to 1969 and Minister of State for Home Affairs from 1969 to 1970 She served as Shadow Home Secretary from 1971 and 1973 In 1974 she became Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection in Harold Wilson s cabinet When Wilson was succeeded by James Callaghan she served as Secretary of State for Education and Science and Paymaster General from 1976 to 1979 She lost her seat to the Conservative Party at the 1979 general election In 1981 dismayed with the Labour Party s left ward movement under Michael Foot she was one of the Gang of Four centrist Labour figures who formed the SDP Williams won the 1981 Crosby by election and became the first SDP member elected to Parliament but she lost the seat in the 1983 general election She served as President of the SDP from 1982 to 1987 and supported the SDP s merger with the Liberal Party that formed the Liberal Democrats Between 2001 and 2004 she served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords and from 2007 to 2010 as Adviser on Nuclear Proliferation to Prime Minister Gordon Brown She remained an active member of the House of Lords until announcing her retirement in January 2016 and was a Professor Emerita of Electoral Politics at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University at the time of her death at age 90 Contents 1 Early life and education 2 Parliamentary career 2 1 Comprehensive schools 2 2 Europeanism 3 Social Democratic Party 4 Harvard University 5 Life peer 6 Personal life 7 Honours 8 Works by and about 9 Arms 10 Notes and references 11 External linksEarly life and education EditBorn in Chelsea London Williams was the daughter of the political scientist and philosopher Sir George Catlin and the feminist and pacifist writer Vera Brittain She was educated at various schools including Mrs Spencer s School in Brechin Place South Kensington Christchurch Elementary School in Chelsea Talbot Heath School in Bournemouth and St Paul s Girls School in London During the Second World War from 1940 1943 she was evacuated to St Paul Minnesota in the United States where she attended the all girls Summit School 3 4 While living in the US she took a screen test to play Velvet Brown in the 1944 film National Velvet a role that was eventually given to Elizabeth Taylor In 1943 on the sea voyage returning to Britain she narrowly avoided being gang raped by a group of sailors 5 While she was an undergraduate and Open Scholar at Somerville College Oxford Williams was a member of the Oxford University Dramatic Society OUDS and toured the United States playing the role of Cordelia in an OUDS production of Shakespeare s King Lear directed by a young Tony Richardson In 1950 she became chair of the Oxford University Labour Club believing herself to be the first woman to hold the position 1 though it has been shown that Betty Tate had chaired a session in 1934 6 After graduating as a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy politics and economics Williams was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and studied American trade unionism at Columbia University in New York City for a master s degree awarded by Oxford in 1954 7 On returning to Britain she began her career as a journalist working firstly for the Daily Mirror and then for the Financial Times In 1960 she became General Secretary of the Fabian Society a role she held until 1964 8 1 Parliamentary career EditAfter unsuccessfully contesting the constituency of Harwich at the 1954 by election and the general election the following year as well as the constituency of Southampton Test at the 1959 general election Williams was elected in the 1964 general election as Labour MP for the constituency of Hitchin in Hertfordshire She retained the seat renamed Hertford and Stevenage after boundary changes in 1974 until 1979 1 As Minister for Education and Science August 1967 October 1969 Williams launched the first Women in Engineering Year in 1969 9 Between 1971 and 1973 she served as Shadow Home Secretary In 1974 she became Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection in Harold Wilson s cabinet When Wilson announced his resignation in 1976 and was succeeded by James Callaghan she became Secretary of State for Education and Paymaster General holding both cabinet positions at the same time Williams stood for the Labour deputy leadership in October of that year but lost to Michael Foot 1 Comprehensive schools Edit While serving as education secretary between 1976 and 1979 Williams pursued the policy introduced by Anthony Crosland in 1965 to introduce the comprehensive school system in place of grammar schools 5 Previously in 1972 as her daughter Rebecca approached secondary school age Williams had moved into the catchment area of the voluntary aided school Godolphin and Latymer School allowing her daughter to gain a place there 10 However when Godolphin and Latymer School subsequently voted to go independent in 1977 Rebecca chose to leave that school and instead went to Camden School for Girls because it had chosen to go comprehensive 11 better source needed Europeanism Edit Always a passionately committed supporter of European integration 12 13 Williams was one of 68 Labour MPs to defy a three line whip in the 28 October 1971 Commons vote on membership of the European Communities 1 14 15 Four years later she was one of the leaders of the Britain in Europe campaign during the 1975 European Communities membership referendum 13 Labour s anti Europeanism during the Michael Foot years was one of the factors that drove her to abandon the party in 1981 13 In her 2016 valedictory speech to the House of Lords before that year s second membership referendum she described the UK s European Union EU membership as the most central political question that this country has to answer and said it was the reason for her retirement In closing she called on her colleagues to think very hard before allowing the United Kingdom to withdraw from its major duty to the world the one it will encounter and then deliver through the European Union 12 16 Social Democratic Party EditWilliams lost her seat renamed Hertford and Stevenage when the Labour Party was defeated at the 1979 general election 17 Her defeat came two years after her appearance and arrest on the Grunwick picket lines for which she had been harshly criticised in the press 1 When soon afterward she was interviewed by Robin Day for the BBC s Decision 79 television coverage of the election results both Norman St John Stevas the Conservative s Education Spokesman who had frequently clashed with her at the despatch box and Merlyn Rees the outgoing Home Secretary paid tribute to her 18 Following the election she hosted the BBC1 TV series Shirley Williams in Conversation interviewing in turn a number of political figures including former West German chancellor Willy Brandt former Conservative prime minister Edward Heath and her recently deposed colleague James Callaghan 19 She later appeared on many television and radio discussion programmes in Britain in particular the BBC s Question Time where her 58 appearances earned her a Most Frequent Panellist award 5 1 During this period Williams remained a member of the National Executive of the Labour Party 20 From 1980 to 1981 she was Chairman of the Fabian Society 8 In 1981 unhappy with the influence of the more left wing members of the Labour Party she resigned her membership to form along with fellow Labour resignees Roy Jenkins David Owen and Bill Rodgers the Social Democratic Party SDP They were joined by 28 other Labour MPs and one Conservative Later that year following the death of the Conservative MP Sir Graham Page she won the Crosby by election and became the first SDP member elected to Parliament Two years later however having become the SDP s President she lost the seat at the 1983 general election At the 1987 general election Williams stood for the SDP in Cambridge but lost to the sitting Conservative candidate Robert Rhodes James She then supported the SDP s merger with the Liberal Party that formed the Liberal Democrats 1 Harvard University Edit Sitting beside Peter Ustinov during an episode of the late night TV discussion programme After Dark 1989 In 1988 Williams moved to the United States to serve as a professor at Harvard s Kennedy School of Government remaining until 2001 and thereafter as Public Service Professor of Electoral Politics Emerita 21 Nonetheless she remained active in politics and public service in Britain the United States and internationally During these years Williams helped draft constitutions in Russia Ukraine and South Africa 1 She also served as director of Harvard s Project Liberty an initiative designed to assist the emerging democracies in Central and Eastern Europe and as a board member and acting director of Harvard s Institute of Politics IOP Upon her elevation to the House of Lords in 1993 she returned to the United Kingdom 22 23 Life peer EditWilliams was created a life peer on 1 February 1993 as Baroness Williams of Crosby of Stevenage in the County of Hertfordshire 24 and subsequently served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords from 2001 to 2004 25 Among other non profit boards Williams was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations the EU s Comite des Sages Reflection Group on Social Policy 26 the Twentieth Century Fund the Ditchley Foundation the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Nuclear Threat Initiative She also served as President of the Royal Institute of International Affairs as Commissioner of the International Commission on Nuclear Non proliferation and Disarmament and as President of the Cambridge University Liberal Association Williams was also an attendee of the 2013 and the 2010 Bilderberg conferences in Watford Hertfordshire England and Sitges Spain respectively 27 In June 2007 after Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair as Prime Minister Williams accepted a formal Government position as Advisor on Nuclear Proliferation provided she could serve as an independent advisor she remained a Liberal Democrat Her interest and commitment to education continued and she served as Chair of Judges of the British Teaching Awards Williams was a member of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non proliferation established in October 2009 28 Williams was originally opposed to the Cameron Clegg coalition s Health and Social Care Bill describing it as stealth privatisation during 2011 29 The government made some changes to the Bill described by Williams as major concessions 30 but dismissed as minor by Guardian commentator Polly Toynbee 31 Williams urged Liberal Democrats to support the amended Bill during the conference in March 2012 32 saying I would not have stuck with the bill if I believed for one moment it would undermine the NHS 33 Williams spoke against gay marriage in the House of Lords saying that equality is not the same as sameness That is the fundamental mistake in this Bill and that women and men complement one another arguing that marriage between people of the same sex should not be called marriage but should have different nomenclature 34 In late 2015 she announced her intention to retire from the House of Lords 35 On 28 January 2016 she made her valedictory speech in the chamber and on 11 February she officially retired in pursuance of Section 1 of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014 16 In the 2017 New Year Honours Williams was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to political and public life 36 Personal life EditWilliams married twice At Oxford she met Peter Parker the future head of British Rail and they had a relationship In her autobiography Climbing the Bookshelves Williams said that by the spring of 1949 I was in love with him and he a little with me In 1955 she married the moral philosopher Bernard Williams Bernard left Oxford to accommodate his wife s rising political ambitions finding a post first at University College London 1959 64 and then as Professor of Philosophy at Bedford College London 1964 67 while she worked as a journalist for the Financial Times and as Secretary of the Fabian Society The marriage was dissolved in 1974 37 Bernard Williams subsequently married Patricia Skinner and had two sons with her 38 Shirley said of her marriage to Bernard T here was something of a strain that comes from two things One is that we were both too caught up in what we were respectively doing we didn t spend all that much time together the other to be completely honest is that I m fairly unjudgmental and I found Bernard s capacity for pretty sharp putting down of people he thought were stupid unacceptable Patricia has been cleverer than me in that respect She just rides it He can be very painful sometimes He can eviscerate somebody Those who are left behind are as it were dead personalities Judge not that ye be not judged I was influenced by Christian thinking and he would say That s frightfully pompous and it s not really the point So we had a certain jarring over that and over Catholicism 38 Her first marriage was annulled in 1980 22 39 In 1987 she married the Harvard professor and presidential historian Richard Neustadt who died in 2003 She had a daughter with Bernard Williams a stepdaughter and two grandchildren Her daughter Rebecca became a lawyer 40 Williams was a Roman Catholic and from 2009 attended church every Sunday 41 In Who s Who she listed her recreations as music poetry hill walking 8 Williams died on 11 April 2021 at the age of 90 Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called Williams a Liberal lion and a true trailblazer 42 Honours EditWilliams was made an Honorary Fellow of her alma mater Somerville College Oxford in 1970 and of Newnham College Cambridge in 1977 Williams received a number of honorary doctorates Honorary DEd Doctor of Education Council for National Academic Awards 1969 Honorary DLitt Doctor of Letters Heriot Watt University 1980 43 Hon LLD Doctor of Laws University of Sheffield 1980 University of Southampton 1981 University of Liverpool 2008 University of Cambridge 2009 Honorary Doctor of Politics and Economics University of Leuven 1976 Radcliffe College Harvard 1978 University of Leeds 1980 University of Bath 1980 Honorary DSc Doctor of Science Aston University 1981 Honorary Doctor Monterey Institute California 2006 8 Works by and about EditShirley Williams wrote several books including Climbing the Bookshelves The Autobiography of Shirley Williams Virago Press 2009 ISBN 9781844084753 44 God and Caesar Personal Reflections on Politics and Religion University of Notre Dame Press 2003 ISBN 9780268010461 45 Ambition and Beyond Career Paths of American Politicians with Edward L Lascher Jr Institute of Governmental Studies Press University of California Berkeley 1993 ISBN 9780877723387 46 New Party The New Technology Social and Liberal Democrats by Hebden Royd 1988 ISBN 9781851870752 47 Politics is for People Harvard University Press 1981 ISBN 9780140058888 48 For details of Williams s early life see Vera Brittain A Life by Paul Berry and Mark Bostridge 1995 49 Testament of Experience by Vera Brittain 1957 50 There is a substantial article on Shirley Williams by Phillip Whitehead in the Dictionary of Labour Biography edited by Greg Rosen Politico s Publishing 2001 and one by Dick Newby in the Dictionary of Liberal Biography edited by Duncan Brack Politico s Publishing 1998 See also John Campbell 2014 Roy Jenkins a Well Rounded Life Jonathan Cape ISBN 978 0 224 08750 6 51 Arms EditCoat of arms of Shirley Williams Coronet A Coronet of a Baroness Escutcheon Per chevron Azure and Or three Lions passant guardant in pale counterchanged a Bordure engrailed Ermine Motto Quamdiu Until Notes and references Edit a b c d e f g h i j Langdon Julia 12 April 2021 Lady Williams of Crosby obituary The Guardian Retrieved 12 April 2021 The SDP later merged with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Democrats Former Hitchin and Stevenage MP Shirley Williams dies aged 90 by Maya Derrick The Comet Stevenage Hitchin Letchworth and Baldock April 12 2021 Lady Williams of Crosby obituary Labour minister in the 60s and 70s who defected to form the SDP as one of the Gang of Four by Julia Langdon The Guardian April 12 2021 a b c Shirley Williams Pioneer who tried to reshape politics BBC News 12 April 2021 Jean Tate Annie Sedley Sue Tate 1 April 2010 Betty Tate obituary The Guardian Retrieved 8 July 2021 Marquand Robert 3 April 1991 Shirley Williams The Christian Science Monitor Retrieved 12 April 2021 a b c d Williams of Crosby Baroness Shirley Vivian Teresa Brittain Williams born 27 July 1930 WHO S WHO amp WHO WAS WHO 2007 doi 10 1093 ww 9780199540884 013 u39901 ISBN 978 0 19 954088 4 Retrieved 15 April 2021 The Woman Engineer Vol 10 www2 theiet org Retrieved 7 March 2020 Shirley Williams Climbing The Bookshelves Autobiography of Shirley Williams Virago 2009 p 206 Agar Stephen 24 April 2021 Rod s Wrong The Spectator 31 a b Hansard House of Lords 28 January 2016 c1470 71 a b c Kettle Martin 17 December 2015 Britain s pro Europeans need to find a Shirley Williams The Guardian Retrieved 13 April 2021 Ludlow N Piers 19 November 2014 Safeguarding British identity or betraying it the role of British tradition in the parliamentary great debate on EC membership October 1971 PDF Journal of Common Market Studies John Wiley amp Sons on behalf of UACES 53 1 18 34 doi 10 1111 jcms 12202 ISSN 0021 9886 S2CID 145092199 Hansard European Communities HC Deb 28 October 1971 vol 823 cc2076 217 a b Shirley Williams makes her final speech to House of Lords video BBC News 28 January 2016 Retrieved 13 April 2021 BBC Rewind Shirley Williams loses Hertford and Stevenage Clip taken from Decision 79 first broadcast 4 May 1979 BBC News 17 November 2014 Retrieved 12 April 2021 Heffer Simon 7 February 2020 Free speech in an uncivil society The Critic Magazine Retrieved 12 April 2021 Bfi Film amp Tv Database Shirley Williams In Conversation Ftvdb bfi org uk Archived from the original on 17 October 2012 Retrieved 11 June 2010 MPs and Lords Baroness Williams of Crosby UK Parliament Retrieved 13 April 2021 Member Labour Party National Executive Committee 1 July 1970 1 March 1981 Shirley Williams In Memoriam Harvard Kennedy School Retrieved 14 April 2021 a b Shirley Williams Labour Cabinet minister who left her party to help form the SDP obituary The Daily Telegraph 12 April 2021 Retrieved 13 April 2021 Shirley Williams One of the UK s best loved politicians The Independent 12 April 2021 Retrieved 13 April 2021 No 53207 The London Gazette 4 February 1993 p 2049 Shirley Williams Liberal History Retrieved 12 April 2021 Commission Establishes a Comite des Sages on Social Policy 4 October 1995 Retrieved 11 June 2011 Bilderberg Meetings official website 2010 attendee list Archived copy Archived from the original on 17 June 2010 Retrieved 17 June 2010 CS1 maint archived copy as title link Borger Julian 8 September 2009 Nuclear free world ultimate aim of new cross party pressure group The Guardian London Helm Toby 12 March 2011 Shirley Williams urges Lib Dems to fight Andrew Lansley s NHS plan The Guardian Manchester Retrieved 19 March 2012 Williams Shirley 3 February 2012 Our NHS bill amendments represent a major concession by the government The Guardian Manchester Retrieved 19 March 2012 Toynbee Polly 12 March 2012 Sorry Shirley Williams but I have to nail your health bill myths The Guardian Manchester UK Retrieved 14 March 2012 Trilling Daniel 11 March 2012 Could NHS reform be the Lib Dems downfall New Statesman UK Retrieved 1 April 2012 Wintour Patrick 11 March 2012 How Nick Clegg and Shirley Williams lost the great NHS debate The Guardian Manchester Retrieved 19 March 2012 House of Lords 17 June 2013 Hansard 17 June 2013 Mason Rowena 17 December 2015 Shirley Williams to retire from Lords after 50 years in politics The Guardian Retrieved 18 December 2015 No 61803 The London Gazette Supplement 31 December 2016 p N27 Mrs Williams agrees to divorce The Glasgow Herald 4 May 1974 p 11 Retrieved 3 January 2017 a b Jeffries Stuart The Quest for Truth The Guardian 30 November 2002 Jeffries Stuart 30 November 2002 The quest for truth Guardian Books Retrieved 12 April 2021 After the divorce in 1974 Bernard married Patricia but Shirley Williams had to wait for the Catholic church to annul the marriage before she could remarry Padman Tony 15 May 2015 Shirley Williams My family values The Guardian Williams Shirley 2009 Climbing the bookshelves 1st ed p 294 ISBN 978 1 84408 476 0 Baroness Shirley Williams Former cabinet minister dies aged 90 BBC News 12 April 2021 Retrieved 12 April 2021 webperson hw ac uk Heriot Watt University Edinburgh Honorary Graduates www1 hw ac uk Retrieved 5 April 2016 Toynbee Polly 3 October 2009 Climbing the Bookshelves by Shirley Williams Book review The Guardian Retrieved 13 April 2021 Williams Shirley September 2003 God amp Caesar Personal Reflections on Politics and Religion The International Journal of Not for Profit Law 6 1 Retrieved 13 April 2021 via International Centre for Not for Profit Law www icnl org Williams Shirley 1 January 1993 Ambition and Beyond The Career Paths of American Politicians Institute of Governmental Studies Press University of California Berkeley ISBN 9780877723387 Retrieved 13 April 2021 via Google Books Williams Shirley 1 July 1988 The New Party the New Technology Liberal Democrat Publications ISBN 9781851870752 Retrieved 13 April 2021 via Google Books Politics is for People Shirley Williams Harvard University Press Retrieved 13 April 2021 Gollard Russell 13 April 1996 Vera Brittain A Life review Literature and Medicine 15 2 266 270 doi 10 1353 lm 1996 0017 S2CID 142574197 via Project MUSE Vera Brittain 1979 Testament of Experience An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1925 50 google co uk books Virago ISBN 9780860681106 Roy Jenkins A Well Rounded Life review a magnificent biography The Guardian 23 March 2014 Retrieved 13 April 2021 External links EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Shirley Williams Profile at the Parliament of the United Kingdom Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803 2005 Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard Voting record at PublicWhip org Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou com Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record Profile at BBC News Democracy Live Articles authored at Journalisted Portraits of Shirley Williams at the National Portrait Gallery London Shirley Williams at IMDb Shirley Williams collected news and commentary at The Guardian Baroness Williams of Crosby at the Liberal Democrats Faculty profile Archived 13 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine at the Harvard Kennedy School The NS Interview Shirley Williams New Statesman 12 May 2010 Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Shirley Williams amp oldid 1035244711, wikipedia, wiki, book, books, library,

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