Open main menu

Brian Charles John Sedgemore (17 March 1937 – 29 April 2015[1]) was a Labour Party politician in the United Kingdom; he was a Member of Parliament from 1974 until 1979, and from 1983 until 2005. A left-winger, he defected to the Liberal Democrats shortly before he stood down at the 2005 general election.[2]

Brian Sedgemore
Member of Parliament
for Hackney South and Shoreditch
In office
10 June 1983 – 11 April 2005
Preceded byRonald Brown
Succeeded byMeg Hillier
Member of Parliament
for Luton West
In office
28 February 1974 – 4 May 1979
Preceded byConstituency Established
Succeeded byJohn Russell Carlisle
Personal details
Brian Charles John Sedgemore

(1937-03-17)17 March 1937
Exmouth, Devon
Died29 April 2015(2015-04-29) (aged 78)
North London, England
Political partyLiberal Democrats
Other political
Labour Party (until 2005)
Spouse(s)Audrey Reece (1964-2002) div.
Alma materCorpus Christi College, Oxford

Early lifeEdit

Brian Sedgemore was born in Exmouth, Devon,[1] and with his two siblings was raised by his mother; his father, a stoker in the Royal Navy, died during active service in World War II.

He attended Newtown Primary School in Newtown, Exeter, and Hele's School, Exeter, a grammar school. He did RAF national service from 1956 to 1958. He read PPE at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and graduated in 1962. While working as a Whitehall civil servant, he trained at night as a barrister specialising in Criminal Law at Middle Temple, London, being called to the bar in 1966. During the 1970s he and fellow barrister David Fingleton contributed pseudonymous articles on politics and the police and criminal justice system to the Private Eye column Justinian Forthemoney. He wrote a number of books including The Secret Constitution and a novel, Power Failure.

Parliamentary careerEdit

Sedgemore was first elected to the House of Commons at the February 1974 general election for Luton West, but lost this seat in 1979. In 1976 he voted for Tony Benn, the Energy Secretary, in the Labour leadership election and during 1978–79 served as Benn's Parliamentary Private Secretary, or PPS. Early in 1979 he was forced to resign over a leak of Treasury papers on the European Exchange Rate Mechanism to the Treasury Select Committee. Having lost his seat, he worked as a journalist for Granada Television.

Sedgemore returned to Parliament at the 1983 general election, as the MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, and stood down at the 2005 general election. Sedgemore succeeded Ronald Brown, who had defected from Labour to the Social Democratic Party (SDP), as the member for Shoreditch.


Initially, he was a member of the (now Socialist) Campaign Group, but he left the faction when he reversed his hostility to the (then) European Commission in the late 1980s. He was later one of only five Labour MPs to vote for the Third Reading of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, defying his party Whip, which was to abstain.[3]

Female Labour MPsEdit

On 6 February 1998 in a controversial speech at the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) he disparaged the 1997 intake of female Labour MPs as "Stepford Wives…who've had the chip inserted into their brain to keep them on message and who collectively put down women and children in the vote on lone parent benefits"[4] — in the previous month benefits had been reduced for this group of (mainly) women. In the 2001–5 parliament he was the fifth most frequent rebel on the Labour benches in divisions on government motions and the tenth most frequent rebel on motions put forward by his own party.


On 25 April 2005, during the run-up to the 2005 general election, he announced he would be defecting to the Liberal Democrats, citing the invasion of Iraq of which he had been a long-term critic, university tuition fees and anti-terrorism laws as reasons for his defection and Blair's "scorn for liberal Britain". He made various comments about Tony Blair being a liar, Blair responded on a BBC live television broadcast saying "He was not present at any meeting I had with George Bush and I don't remember having any conversation on the issue with Brian Sedgemore". Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy called Sedgemore's defection "a pivotal moment" in the election campaign.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

He was an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.

He married Audrey Reece, a fellow barrister, in 1964; they had a son. They divorced in 1985 and remarried in 2002.

Sedgemore died in 2015 after a fall in hospital while recovering from kidney surgery.[6]


  1. ^ a b Brian Sedgemore obituary, The Guardian, 6 May 2015
  2. ^ Neil Lancefield (5 May 2015). "Former Labour MP Brian Sedgemore who quit for the Lib Dems dies after a hospital fall". mirror.
  3. ^ "Tory MPs in record revolt: Lamont leaves door open for ERM re-entry". London: The Independent. 21 May 1993.
  4. ^ "BBC News - Politics - Women Labour MPs dubbed 'Stepford Wives'". 6 February 1998.
  5. ^ Andrew Grice and Colin Brown (26 April 2005). "Blair warned: More to follow Sedgemore out of the party". The Independent. London.
  6. ^ "Former Luton MP Brian Sedgemore dies after fall in hospital". Luton Today.

External linksEdit