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Edward Watson Short (Baron Glenamara)


Edward Watson Short, Baron Glenamara, CH, PC was born on 17th December 1912, and is a former Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Newcastle upon Tyne Central in the United Kingdom. He was a minister during the Labour Governments of Harold Wilson.

Short was elected a councillor on Newcastle City Council where he led the Labour Group. He was first elected to Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne Central at the 1951 general election. He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1964, and is also a Companion of Honour.

He became a notorious figure among fans of offshore radio because he was Postmaster-General (then the minister with responsibility for broadcasting) in 1967 when the Marine etc. Broadcasting and Offences Act, which clamped down on the "pirate" stations, was passed. He subsequently served as Education Secretary 1968–70, and became Labour's deputy leader in April 1972 when Roy Jenkins resigned over differences on European policy. Short was seen at the time as a "safe pair of hands." His main rival for the job was the left-winger Michael Foot who was viewed by many on the centre and right of the party as a divisive figure. He also beat off Anthony Crosland in the same vote.

Short's new seniority was reflected in his appointment as Lord President of the Council – though not Deputy Prime Minister – 1974–76, but he did not have the stature to mount a leadership bid himself on Wilson's retirement. He was not offered a Cabinet post on James Callaghan's election as Premier. His resignation letter said that the time had come to step aside for a younger man; this was sarcastic, as he was replaced by Michael Foot, who is seven months younger than himself. He refused to resign as Labour's deputy leader until he was made a life peer as Baron Glenamara, of Glenridding in the County of Cumbria on 28 January 1977 and left the Commons. One year before, he was appointed Chairman of Cable and Wireless Ltd, which was at the time a nationalised industry. He served until 1980.

As a life peer he is still a member of the House of Lords, although he stopped attending regularly a few years ago. His name lives on in the House of Commons with the term "Short Money". This refers to funds paid by the Government to help run the Parliamentary office of the Leader of the Opposition. The then Mr Short pioneered this idea during his time in the House.

He was made a Freeman of the City of Newcastle in 2001 "in recognition of his eminent and outstanding public service as former Member of Newcastle City Council, former MP for Newcastle Central Constituency, former Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Deputy Prime Minister and currently Chancellor of the University of Northumbria at Newcastle." He retired from this Chancellorship in 2005.