Lord Orme of Salford -2005

Stan Orme died in May 2005 at the age of 82 after a long illness.

Stan was born in Sale, Cheshire and was educated at the local elementary and technical schools leaving at 14 to enter the world of work. He trained as an engineer at Trafford Park. He became a member of the Amalgamated Engineering Union moving through the ranks from shop steward to member of the Manchester District Committee.

Having left school so early he wanted to improve himself and took classes through both the National Council of Labour Colleges and the Workers’ Education Association.

Like so many men of his generation he saw action in the Second World War serving the country as a navigator in Bomber Command and attaining the rank of warrant officer.

In 1958 he was elected to Sale Borough Council and only a year later, contested the parliamentary seat of Stockport South which he did not win.

He entered parliament in 1964 as the Member for Salford West and from 1983 Salford East, he represented Salford as an MP for 33 years.

A bit of a left wing rebel he voted against Harold Wilson’s 1964 Government on a number of occasions. He was active in his support of CND, took an early interest in Irish unification and worked tirelessly for trade union rights. He was outspoken in his opposition to the American intervention in Vietnam and was against Britain’s entry to the EEC.

In 1974 Harold Wilson gave him his first opportunity in Government appointing him as Merlin Rees’ deputy in the Northern Ireland Office. This appointment was not welcomed by the Unionists who complained bitterly that Stan was a member of Tribune.

After Harold Wilson’s unexpected resignation Jim Callaghan moved Stan to the Department of Health and Social Security, a few months later he had a seat at Cabinet as Minister for Social Security. The extremely difficult economic conditions facing the country placed enormous constraints on the Government’s spending plans. Stan’s portfolio was no different,he had to work within tight spending plans and also had to announce crackdowns on Social Security fraudsters, neither of which sat very comfortably with him.

He became known as a hardworking and sensible Minister, good with people, he used his ability to persuade to great effect both in government and out.

Returning to opposition in 1979 he held several shadow posts including health, industry and energy. He was a popular member of the PLP and always polled well in the annual Shadow Cabinet elections.

In 1987 he became Chairman of the PLP with strong support from colleagues that continued throughout his tenure.

When he stood down as a Member of Parliament he became a life peer.

Throughout his political career he was supported by his wife Irene who he married in 1951.