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 be