ROEBUCK, Roy (b.1929).



Harrow East
31 March 1966 - 18 June 1970


Roy Roebuck was born in Manchester in September 1929, and first became interested in politics as a teenager during the 1945 election campaign. He joined his local Labour party and became a member of its Executive Committee aged 17. He served in the RAF for his national service before pursuing a career firstly as a journalist before he was called to the Bar in 1974. In 1957 he married Dr Mary Oglivy Adams, together they have a son.

Roebuck contested Altrincham and Sale in 1964 and 1965, before becoming MP for Harrow East between 1966 and 1970. He unsuccessfully contested Leek in 1974, and continued his career as a barrister.

Click here to listen to the full interview with Roy Roebuck in the British Library.

Transcript of clip

They gave me enormous and tremendous support. Wonderful people – in fact they hadn’t had a voice, I think, for a long time. Because I’d been in newspapers and knew how to get stuff into newspapers, I filled the local newspaper every week, virtually: that produced great joy among them. They were lovely and enormously supportive – as were in fact the party in Altrincham and Sale, they were enormously supportive, really great people. F. Trevor Evans, who was the chairman, he was a good fella, he was a bus inspector or something. These were tremendous people: really good-hearted, the sort of Englishmen who were at Trafalgar and so on. They were really great characters, wonderful folk.

Summary of interview

Track 1 [00:00:14] Test track.
Track 2 [0:50:35] [Session one: 25 May 2012] Roy Delville Roebuck [RR], born Manchester, 1929. Description of first interest in politics aged 14 in run-up to 1945 general election, developed through reading at public libraries. Praise for public libraries. Remarks on elementary education and not taking 11+. Describes being taught to read aged three and first visits to school library. Comments on Manchester Central Library and daily trips there. Remarks on reading complete nineteenth-century ‘Hansard’ there by age of 18. Comments on subscribing to ‘Hansard’ at aged 15. Alludes to weekly earnings as unpleasant memory. [07:23] Comments on membership of local Labour League of Youth and reading parliamentary news in ‘The Guardian’. Comments on today’s politicians’ lack of debating skills. Mentions no one compares to Barbara Castle [BC] or Margaret Thatcher. Mentions visiting Harrow School. Description of learning debating skills at Labour Party meetings. Description of Labour Party meetings and discussion of suggestions sent from Transport House, Labour party headquarters [15:15]. Description of Alan McAnulty’s involvement. Mentions brothers Alf Morris and Charles Morris. Mentions getting political ideas from books produced by Gollancz [Left Book Club] and the Plebs League. Comments on first ambition to enter the House of Commons. Description of joining air force aged 18, and first posting to RAF Padgate.[21:26] Comments on becoming wireless operator, making friends with Reg Richmond. Comments on knowing more about politics than his contemporaries. Description of ‘The Roses’ club formed with others from Yorkshire and Lancashire. Description of six-month training course at RAF Barton Hall, Preston and then posting to RAF South Cerney. Description of consulting atlas in library to find his next posting, ‘Feaf’, only to learn it meant Far East Air Force. Description of being kitted out at RAF Hednesford then heading to Ceylon on MS Dunera. [32:03] Description of decision to join RAF and being lucky to get in. Story about Jim Callaghan [JC] fighting to get into the navy and not the army. Comments on how JC being a lieutenant won him his seat. Description of how RR came to leave ship in Colombo rather than continue to Malaya. Comments on experiences in Ceylon. Remarks on Sinhalese staff who observed both Roman Catholic and Buddhist holy days. Comments on living so far from home. Description of enjoying local attractions such as the Temple of Truth, collecting coconuts on the beach or having tiffin at local hotel. Remarks on enjoying colonial life and witnessing the benefits it brought to Ceylon. Comparison between British influence and Belgian and German colonial rule. [46:48] Reflection on war years as marvellous experience. Mentions himself, Reg Richmond, Ginger Seddon and McBride as still being in touch. Description of being offered officer training at Cranwell but deciding to go into politics and journalism.
Track 3 [52:47] Describes hunting for newspaper job and joining ‘Stockport Advertiser’. Comments on weekly wage and editor Roland Wilson’s opinions. Remarks on working as local news reporter and subsequent sub-editor jobs at ‘The Northern Daily Telegraph’ and ‘Yorkshire Evening News’. Story about how he got a sub-editing job at ‘News Chronicle’ in Manchester. [10:10] Remarks on wages at each paper. Description of going to The Press Club and the view of Manchester Town Hall. Description of invitation to join ‘Daily Express’ in Manchester run by Lord Beaverbrook. Comments on Beaverbrook’s political connections with Churchill. Description of his move to ‘The Daily Mirror’ when it came to Manchester. [14:15] Mentions George Thomson [GT], MP for Dundee East, editor of Scottish socialist newspaper ‘Forward’. Mentions RR’s membership of Lancashire, Cheshire and High Peak of Derbyshire Labour Party Executive Committee at age 17. Comments on GT’s wish to move ‘Forward’ south to combat the Bevanite paper ‘Tribune’.  Remarks on Bevanites and Hugh Gaitskell [HG].  Description of move to ‘Evening Chronicle’ to allow time for politics and producing ‘Forward’. Mentions his marriage to a doctor and membership of Labour party at that time. Mentions meeting Betty Boothroyd [BB] at a meeting in Yorkshire when they were both in the Labour League of Youth. Remarks on relationship with BB. [20:20] Remarks about Morris brothers who helped in production of ‘Forward’. Description of writing for ‘Forward’ and the issues covered: Ghana’s independence, Bevanites, the Common Market. Comments on Bevanites’ ideology and RR’s support of HG’s values. Remarks on Nye Bevan and HG. [27:32] Description of