Camden News
Publications by New Journal Enterprises
  Home Archive Competition Jobs Tickets Accommodation Dating Contact us
Camden New Journal - OBITUARY
Published: 3 April 2008

Jock and his wife Sheila with a leading left-winger Tony Benn and his wife Caroline in the 1970s. But when it came to a clash between Michael Foot and Benn in the 1980s, Jock sided firmly with Foot
A stalwart of socialism and a man of unshakable principle

LORD Jock Stallard, one of the great socialist stalwarts of the St Pancras rent strike battles, who went on to serve Camden both as a councillor and an MP, has died aged 86.
Stallard went into politics as a tireless campaigner against slum landlords and for strengthening tenants’ rights back in the 1950s when he was a St Pancras councillor.
During the turmoil that followed the flying of the Red Flag over St Pancras Town Hall (see below) and the famous rent strike from 1959 to 1961, he was expelled from the Labour Party, surcharged and disqualified from holding office by the District Auditor.
He bounced back from these setbacks, was restored to a seat on St Pancras council, and later was among the first councillors in the newly formed London borough of Camden in 1964 and then MP for St Pancras North.
After a distinguished career in the House of Commons, he ended his political days with a seat in the House of Lords.
Born Albert Stallard on November 5, 1921, his early years were spent in Lanarkshire. He was the son of a postman, Frederick, and Agnes, and studied at Hamilton Academy. In the mid-1930s the family moved south to find work. They settled in Tottenham and Jock got a job as an apprentice precision engineer – a reserved occupation so he was not called up to the armed services in the war.
While employed in an aircraft factory in the area, Jock worked with Spurs players who were allowed to continue playing professionally at the weekend while doing their bit for the war during the week. It cemented a lifelong love of Spurs.
In 1944 he married Sheila Murphy from County Kerry, and after the war they moved to Camden Town.
Jock spent much of the 1950s working for BEA, and became a shop steward for the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers .
He first stood for election in St Pancras in 1953 and devoted himself to campaigning against atrocious housing. He would make rounds of homes on Sunday mornings photographing slum conditions ready to post the damning evidence to council and government officials. He chased slum landlords and fought the corner for tenants who were being exploited.
Jock was selected to succeed former Labour health minister Kenneth Robinson as Labour’s candidate for St Pancras North – a seat he won in 1970, and held until 1983, twice defeating a Tory challenge from a young John Major in 1974.
Stallard soon made a name for himself in the Commons as a staunch left-winger – a unilateralist and persistent defender of the NHS. 
In the late 1970s, he became a party whip in James Callaghan’s government – at a time when Labour’s majority was thin and sometimes non-existent.
The Northern Ireland question, however, was always a concern and as a Roman Catholic who reflected the views of his many Irish constituents, he consistently opposed internment and any measures to strengthen the Union.
In 1979 he resigned from his job as a whip in protest at proposals to create more seats in Northern Ireland, believing that this would exacerbate problems between Protestants and Catholics.
After Mrs Thatcher swept to power in the 1979 election, Jock threw himself into a painstaking measure by measure opposition to her dismantling of the welfare state.
But before the 1983 election, a major reorganisation of constituency boundaries cut Camden’s parliamentary seats from three to two. With Hampstead in the north then safe Tory, that left Jock in St Pancras North and his friend Frank Dobson in Holborn and St Pancras South competing for the single remaining seat.
The older, more experienced Stallard went into the election as favourite, but it was a close-run contest. Finally, a packed meeting at the Labour rooms in Camden Town gave the job to the younger man.
Dobson is said to have won thanks to a single joke. When asked about housing, he said that the two greatest enemies of socialism were Margaret Thatcher and the Camden housing department. The more middle-class elements in the selection shuffled uneasily, but tenant representatives broke into applause and Dobson clinched the vote.
Losing his seat was a cruel moment in his career but, typically, he threw himself wholeheartedly behind Dobson’s 1983 election campaign. And his political talents were rewarded when Labour leader Michael Foot appointed him a personal aide and recommended him for a peerage.
His work in the Lords was wide-ranging and right up to the death of his wife in 2004, Jock made a point of appearing every day at the House.
Jock loved jazz. Indeed, when he was surcharged and found himself facing stark financial choices, he managed to make ends meet by using his musical talents: a self-taught pianist, he performed at sing-songs in the Kentish Town pubs the Stag and the Victory to bring in a few extra quid each week.
And throughout his life he would turn any song he was bashing out on the piano into a jazz number.
He is survived by a son, daughter, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Dan Carrier

* Lord ‘Jock’ Stallard’s funeral will be held at midday at Our Lady of Hal Church, Arlington Road, Camden Town NW1 on Wednesday April 9. A wake will be held from 2.30pm at the Lord Southampton, Grafton Terrace, NW5

Flying the flag for tenants’ rights

JOCK Stallard played a major role in one of the most significant political battles of post-war Britain – the St Pancras Rent Strike.
In 1958, he was chief whip of the St Pancras council’s ruling Labour group led by the charismatic John Lawrence. It had resolved to put up a determined opposition to the Conservative government’s Rent Act, which  was seen as an attempt to roll back hard-won gains and welfare rights made by the working class during the immediate post-war years.
St Pancras councillors voted to fly the Red Flag from the Town Hall in defiance on May Day in 1958 – but the Labour Party’s national leadership which was moving to the right under the leadership of Hugh Gaitskell, feared this would damage their image.
They expelled Stallard along with Lawrence and other members of the council and the tenants’ movement.
These were lively times in St Pancras, with tenants across the borough joining under the banner of the United Tenants Association to withhold their rents. It shook the Tory government and culminated in the eviction of two of the campaign’s leaders by bailiffs with massive police support. Tenants and trade unionists London-wide rallied support to the strikers.
Later, for their supportive role to the St Pancras United Tenants Association during the strike, Stallard and other councillors were surcharged and banned from office by the District Auditor. But when Stallard’s ban expired, he was elected back into the council chamber as an alderman.

Comment on this article.
(You must supply your full name and email address for your comment to be published)





» Obituaries A-Z


Theatre Music
Arts & Events Attractions