James White 1922-2009

James White, Labour MP for Glasgow Pollok from 1970-87 was born in Glasgow in 1922.

Educated at Knightswood secondary school in Glasgow, he joined the Royal Engineers unit of the 8th Army and served under Montgomery. This brought him into close contact with his Gurkha comrades, and as an MP he became a champion of their cause and a valued friend of Nepal.

James White stood for Labour at the Glasgow Pollok constituency in 1970. The seat had been won for the Tories by Esmond Wright in a famous 1967 by-election. However James White won it back with a majority of 603 and improved on it over the next 17 years.

At the end of 1974 James White gained national importance when he came second in the ballot to introduce a private members’ bill. He selected a review of David Steel’s 1967 Abortion Act. It brought him very much to the forefront of Westminster politics.

White had solid, working-class credentials and was renowned as a diligent constituency MP. It was the scourge of unemployment, he once told the Commons, that had brought him into the Labour party.

Throughout his time in the Commons, he was managing director of his own vehicle recovery firm. He also prided himself in being one of the few MPs to hold an HGV licence, having spent most of his earlier working life as a long-distance lorry driver.

His Glasgow Pollok constituency was targeted by Militant Tendency activity following Labour’s defeat in the 1979 election. James White saw off the challenge in 1983 but became increasingly weary of the mayhem that the Militant presence created within his local party. When he retired at the 1987 election, Militant fully expected their candidate to win the selection conference to replace him, but failed to do so.

His wife Mary died in 2002. He is survived by two daughters and a son.

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