JACKSON, Peter (b.1928).



High Peak
31 March 1966 - 18 June 1970


Peter Michael Jackson was born in Sheffield on 14 October 1928, and was educated at a Sheffield Grammar School, Durham University and University College, Leicester. He married Christine Thomas in 1961 (marriage dissolved 1979).

Before joining the Labour party he was a member of the Commonwealth Party. He entered Parliament in 1966, representing High Peak. He stood again in 1970 General Election but lost to the Conservative Spencer Le Marchant.

He later pursued an academic career and was a Lecturer at the Department of Sociology of the University of Hull, Fellow at University of Hull and Tutor at the Open University (1972-74) before becoming Senior Planning Officer in South Yorks (1974-77).

Transcript of clip

"My mind on the abortion issue was very much concentrated by – I could strangle the man – a judge who gave a woman a long jail sentence, like … Mrs [Vera Drake]. I sounded off in Parliament, I don’t know what I did but I made the lead story in the Sheffield newspapers, which surprised me, in criticism of this particular judge. As a result of this, I was put in touch with a working class man who was the husband of the lady who’d been sent to prison for I think it was four years, and I went to see him and he had three kids and he wasn’t skilled in childrearing and he was devastated by this. I felt very sorry for him. I can still see it now. That concentrated my mind, like nothing, to see a family’s life destroyed... if you ask me what was my most important contribution it would be my role in bringing about rights for women which they never had before, and hopefully not sending women to prison... The police browbeat a woman who had given her a fiver, and she said didn’t want to accept it, but the point is she was forced to accept it."

Summary of interview

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Track 1 [00:22] [Session One:] Peter Jackson [PJ] born 14 October 1928. Sound check.

Track 2 [01:08:43] [cont. from Track 1 00:22] Description of early life as an only child and father’s job as a valuation officer for Sheffield Council. Mentions his grandparent’s business and his parent’s aspirational character. Describes moving to Derbyshire in 1935 and his mother’s desire for him to be an accountant. Mentions the Eleven plus. Tells story of being sick on the day of the Eleven plus test. Discussion of attending a grammar school in Sheffield. [00:02:11] Describes working at age of 17 for firm of accountants. Mentions mother’s dominant personality. [00:02:28] Mentions conscription. Description of being influenced by two masters at school. Tells story of the right wing texts on Chartists studied in history lessons. Describes regret at having lost the book. [00:04:48] Description of a meeting in 1945 general election and asking a question. Puts his interest in politics down to his English and History masters. [00:05:17] Discussion of importance of educational influence over family in shaping political interest. Discussion of parent’s voting Conservative. Mentions the lack of political discussion at home. Mentions reading the Guardian and subscribing to left wing journals. [00:06:46] Discusses PJ’s political conscious and awareness of Britain’s role at a young age. Mentions opposition to conscription. Tells story of telling father of plans to volunteer for the Bevin Boys and his father’s threatening to kick him out if he did. Description of father’s ambition for PJ. Discussion of opposition to being conscripted into the RAF because of Britain’s role and hostility to Soviet Union. [00:07:46] Tells story of mother crying at Chamberlain’s declaration of war speech. Description of war as high point in PJ father’s life. Description of PJ’s father volunteering but was not being called up creating hostility from PJ. [00:08:45] Discussion of the minimal role of PJ’s father in his life. Tells story of not getting credit in maths and his father blaming PJ’s canvasing for the commonwealth candidate in his lunch breaks. [00:09:18] Description of joining Commonwealth party rather than Labour Party. Description of wartime practice of party nominated replacements in the event of an MPs death rather than elections. Description of Commonwealth party’s opposition to this practice. [00:10:17] Description of PJ’s father taking all his politics books as punishment for failing maths. Description of taking an economics course at National Labour Colleges. Discussion of passion for books as a result of father’s action. Further discussion of father’s dissuading of PJ becoming a Bevin Boy and PJ’s father’s hopes of PJ becoming an officer. [00:12:31] Description of working for accountants. Description of failing wireless operator test. Mentions being made an aircraft hand general duty. Description of getting easy jobs due to being literate. Description of being taught how to type. Description of being posted in Norfolk and going to adult classes in current affairs. Mentions being told he should go to university and not having ever thought about going to university. Description of government scheme to get ex-servicemen to go to university. Description of decision to become a social worker and seeing it as a positive left-wing role. Description of going to Durham and later making friends with left-wing students. [00:15:52] Description of being introduced to classical music. Mentions meeting friends Jack Williams and Harold Evans at Durham. [00:18:28] Description of deciding to go into teaching and taking a teaching diploma. Mentions Joe Banks. Description of project on the history of the productive side of the cooperative movement. Description of registering for a PhD on John Stuart Mill in Liverpool. Description of losing grant due to cuts but being able to register as a mature student at Hull. Description of becoming a full lecturer at Hull.

[Track 2 cont.] [00:22:28] Description of relationship with John Reece [JR] who was active in Labour party. Tells of becoming a Labour party activist under JR’s encouragement. Discussion of going to a selection conference for the High Peak and being selected. Mentions interest in the countryside. [00:27:50] Discussion of the conservative past of the High Peak constituency. Discussion of Irish presence in the constituency. Description of activeness of party in the area. [00:30:52] Discussion of PJ’s wife [Christine Thomas] and her parent’s communist connections. Description of encouraging wife to go to university. Description of PJ’s feminist beliefs [00:36:12] Description of open relationship with his wife. Mentions Eric Frome and ‘The Art of Loving.’ Description of divorce 18 years later in 1979 and his wife’s relationship with Eric Robinson. [00:38:25] Discussion of love for trees and forestry. Description of choosing to study at Durham for politics over Bangor for forestry. [00:40:58] Discussion of election campaign. Mentions Harold Wilson’s criticisms of PJ. Description of being an active humanist. Tells of declining Buxton church’s invite to attend a service for all candidates. Description of active role in abortion campaign in 1970 and having two votes of no confidence against PJ at local party level. Description of party’s fear that he was throwing away the catholic constituency. Mentions Douglas Howe and the David Steel cause. Mentions Stella Brown and his attempts to get a blue plaque for her. [00:46:34] Description of votes of no confidence to pressure him not to provoke opposition amongst Roman Catholics. Mentions Guardian piece on PJ having lowest swing against any labour member defeated in the North West. Description of trying to get Ken Coates nominated to be his replacement. [00:47;58] Description of first impressions after being elected to parliament in 1966.  Tells story of John Parker writing all letters shorthand in the parliament library. Description of poor funding and impact on making MPs less effective. [00:52:28] Description of day to day life in Parliament. Mentions South Africa and his membership of the Merseyside Boycott committee. Description of campaigning for people to boycott South African goods. Tells story of handing out leaflets outside John Lewis and being arrested and hit whilst in police custody. Tells of a charge being brought against the police but the police lying in court. Mentions importance of colonial issues to PJ. Tells of the Peter Hayne arrest and a threat to storm the pitch. [00:58:15] Discussion of maiden speech and need for a scraping tax. Discussion of time on agricultural committee. Mentions Walter Harrison. Discussion of pressure from the National Farmers Union. Mentions John Winifred [JW] and the National Trust. Description of JW persuading PJ to become a member of the executive council for the National Trust in 1988. Mentions a division over the issue of hunting. [01:02:25] Discussion of anti-Vietnam views and attending. Tells of having car searched on way to protests. Tells of giving blood for the Vietnam victims. Mentions Wilson and Johnson. Discussion of voting against parliament on more occasions than any other MP. Mentions opposition to Tony Benn over Concord. Discusses relationship with the Labour party whips.

Track 3 [01:11:14] Mentions friendship with Sir John Smith. Description of restoring an old cotton mill and lack of support. Description of Landmark Trust taking on the project. Description of sponsoring a cross party political grouping that came to nothing. [00:06:53] Discussion of role in the abortion bill. Mentions interviewing MPs he thought would be sympathetic. Mentions Sir George Godbar. Talks of hearing the opposition arguments on abortion in the committee stages. Discussion of unofficial role as a whip. Expresses opposition to Wilson’s lack of concern for women. Discussion of knowledge of back street abortion. Tells of criticising judge who gave women long sentence for having an abortion. [00:19:35] Description of writing letters for people who wanted grants from the Historic Building Society. Mentions John Parker and setting up a forestry group. Tells of Ford Family giving PJ grant in 1968 to go to America. Discussion of American approach to national parks. Mentions Sierra Club. [00:24:43] Discussion of leaving the Labour party and joining the Green Party in Australia and then in the UK.  [00:26:24] Discussion on the outcome of the abortion bill. Discussion of Northern Ireland in the abortion issue. Discussion of use of Private Members Bills. Discussion of Leo Absey. Discussion of election address. [00:32:35] Discussion of election campaign. Tells of opposition to PJ’s speeches on Dahl in Buxton. Mentions persuading Kenneth Robinson to stop smoking in public. [00:34:58] Discussion of response to loosing seat in 1970 election. Discussion of turning down offer to contest seat in Bury. Discussion of being chosen as a county councillor in 1972. Discussion of time as Chairman of Planning Committees and Peter Regan. [00:39:04] Discussion of local politics as opposed to national politics. Speaks of frustration at councillors. Description of County Council trying to dismiss PJ and later expulsion from Labour group. Discussion of party enquiry to expulsion, which found in his favour. [00:43:45] Description of working for the Open University in 1972. Discussion of giving up parliamentary constituency in order to work full time as a social planner.  Description of having been left money by a relative and doing a masters at Oxford in forestry and land planning. Description of being chosen as Labour candidate for MEP of North Derby in 1979 but loosing the seat. [00:49:36] Description of motor accident in 1978 and spending a year recovering. Discussion of low turnout at 1979 election. Mentions anti-Europe views. Discussion of disappointment at loosing election.

Track 3 cont. [00:54:17] Mentions Terry Rachet. Description of moving to Lesotho and funding for university. Mentions fathers death and mother moving to live with PJ. [00:58:22] Discussion of relationship after his first wife. Mentions being banned from South Africa and having luggage inspected for banned books. Speaks of being arrested for entering South Africa without having passport checked but found not guilty. [01:07:02] Discussion of returning to England after four years. [01:07:32] Mentions involvement in National Trust. [01:08:00] Discussion of PJ’s partner’s son Paul who was a teacher. Mentions visiting Paul in Papua New Guinea. [01:10:16] Discussion of inheriting a property and money after PJ’s mother died. Description of buying a property in Australia.

Track 4 [00:19:16] Description of caring for elderly mothers. [02:02] Description of meeting Eric Lovett and EL’s role in electoral reform society. Description of joining the electoral reform society. Description of PJ monitoring the 1994 South African election as well as elections in Bosnia Herzegovina and Hungary. Expression of opposition to the Alternative Vote [AV].  Tells of wife voting for AV so PJ voting to cancel out her vote. [06:08] Discussion of time in Australia and time campaigning on abortion. [09:55] Discussion of Police and Crime Commissioner elections. Description of PJ’s opposition to the police. [11:35] Description of high points of time in office. Mentions Jeremy Hunt. Description of writing to Frank Field. Tells of Tom McMillan throwing away letters from constituencies. [15:21] Description of membership of Euthanasia society. Mentions interest in Kenya and abuse by British troops. Discussion of changes to MPs replying to letters.