Stan Newens a Co-operator. Passed away 2nd March 2021 (aged 91)

John Boyle
For attention of:
23rd March 2021
Last updated:
23rd March 2021
10th December 2023
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Stan Newens, former Labour and Co-operative MP and MEP, uncompromising socialist, internationalist and latterly a passionate Corbynista has died aged 91.

During his long life he also authored several books and numerous pamphlets; he found time to serve as a director and eventually the President of the London Co-operative Society, the largest retail co-operative in the country and was a persistent campaigner for social justice, entitling his autobiography “In quest of a fairer society”

Stan was born into a working-class family in Bethnal Green in the East End of London.  During the war the family moved to the North Weald near Epping Forest where Stan attended Buckhurst Hill County High School and subsequently studied History at London University where he became politically active.

His opposition to national service led to him taking up employment as a “Bevin Boy” in the North Staffordshire Coalfield.  During his time there he represented his colleagues at the Stafford No 2 colliery and was recognised and thanked for his service by the local NUM.

Stan entered Parliament in October 1964 for the Epping Constituency that included his local community in North Weald.  Active on the left Stan became a founder member of the Tribune Group, voting against increasing Defence expenditure, against nuclear weapons and expressed scepticism about the Atlantic alliance that was to prove such a thorn in the side of the Wilson Government’s of the 60’s and 70’s.

Genuinely shocked by his defeat at the hands of Norman Tebbit in the acrimonious election of 1970, Stan was determined to return the favour but by 1974 the Electoral Commission had redrawn constituency boundaries splitting Epping and the new town of Harlow into two.  Stan was duly returned for Harlow but had to pass up the opportunity for a re-match.

Parliament the second time round was a more difficult environment for Labour Members with a wafer-thin Commons majority in 1974 followed by the Thatcher landslides of the 80’s.   Although he survived the first Thatcher victory by his work as a local constituency MP he could not withstand the landslide of 1983.  He did not give up contesting the seat again in 1987 but to no avail.

In the mean-time Stan had stood rather reluctantly for the European Parliament in 1984 and won.  Although elected as Deputy Leader of the Labour MEP’s he never really settled and admitted in later years that he much preferred the democratic cut and thrust of the Commons.

When Stan finally left the European Parliament in 1999 it allowed him more time for those issues and activities that had been marginalised during his years of public service.  He took up the Chair of Liberation, the former Movement for Colonial Freedom, and of Labour Heritage, an organisation specialising in local labour history.  He also published his autobiography “In quest of a fairer society”.  And many others!  More recently he spoke out in favour of Jeremy Corbyn as someone who would bring to his Leadership the sort of Socialist values that Stan believed in.

He is survived by a loving family – his wife Sandra, five children and four grandchildren.

This tribute was written by Andy Love Labour and Co-operative MP for  Edmonton from 1997 to 2015

Action Points
  • Tribute to Stan Newens
    Obituary written by Andy Love