Peter Shore

British politician (1924-2001)

Peter David Shore, Baron Shore of Stepney, PC (20 May 1924 – 24 September 2001) was a British Labour politician and former Cabinet Minister, noted in part for his opposition to the United Kingdom's entry into the European Economic Community. His idiosyncratic left-wing nationalism led to comparison with the French politician Jean-Pierre Chevènement.


  • Once the mass of the people had the vote, Socialists were convinced that Conservatism and all that it stood for would be swept away. Their victory seemed certain, for Conservatism which was based on privilege and wealth was inevitably a minority creed, whereas Socialism, with its appeal to social justice and economic self-interest, should recruit the big battalions of the poor and underprivileged, whom the vote would make the masters of political democracy. ... Yet it is clear that events have falsified these predictions. ... The question which must now be asked is why the fruits of universal suffrage have taken so long to ripen. How is it that so large a proportion of the electorate, many of whom are neither wealthy or privileged, have been recruited for a cause which is not their own?
    • The Real Nature of Conservatism, Labour Party Educational Series, No. 3, September 1952, quoted in R. T. McKenzie and Allan Silver, 'Conservatism, Industrialism and the Working-Class Tory in England', in Richard Rose (ed.), Studies in British Politics: A Reader in Political Sociology (London: Macmillan, 1966), p. 25
  • Britain's relationship with the English-speaking Commonwealth was closer than that with the Continent. That is how the British people feel.
    • Remarks given in the Cabinet meeting to discuss Britain's membership of the EEC, as recorded in Tony Benn's diary (18 March 1975), Tony Benn, Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 (London: Hutchinson, 1989), p. 348
  • What the advocates of membership are saying, insistently and insidiously, is that we are finished as a country; that the long and famous story of the British nation and people has ended; that we are now so weak and powerless that we must accept terms and conditions, penalties and limitations, almost as though we had suffered defeat in war; that though we have the right on June 5, we have no option but to remain in the Common Market age.
  • We don't have to have these passports, do we? Surely we can keep our British ones if we want. ... My children and grandchildren forced to abandon the old British passport!
    • Remarks to the Cabinet on the new maroon-coloured EEC passports, as recorded in Tony Benn's diary (11 June 1976), Tony Benn, Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 (London: Hutchinson, 1989), p. 579
  • Of course, to those avowed Trotskyists and infiltrators, the turning over of stones, the exposure to the light of day, will be as unwelcome as sunlight to Dracula—and predictably, we shall hear plaintive cries of witchhunts and McCarthyism.
    • Speech in Swansea (4 December 1981), quoted in The Times (5 December 1981), p. 1

Quotes about Shore

  • Peter was one of my very oldest political friends and a man of outstanding commitment and ability. He was someone who enriched public life.
  • He made a huge contribution towards modernising the economy of the country and tackling urban deprivation. Peter was a man of immense integrity with strong convictions and latterly played an important role in raising standards in public life. He was a great parliamentarian, a great patriot and a true servant of his constituents.
    • Tony Blair, quoted in The Times (25 September 2001), p. 14
  • He was a very loyal cabinet colleague with strong principles and convictions. I deeply regret his passing.
  • Scots are not so worried about sovereignty, having lived under Westminster bossism for so long. Shore once chided Cook and Smith as "Nordics", and therefore unable to understand the English.
    • Robin Cook, remarks to Hugo Young regarding the European Union (12 December 1994), quoted in Hugo Young, The Hugo Young Papers: Thirty Years of British Politics – Off the Record, ed. Ion Trewin (2008), p. 442
  • I talked to Peter Shore. He was stressing the need to help the unemployed in the constructions industry. When I mentioned the Channel Tunnel as a way of doing this with private finance and with European money, Shore went slightly mad. He rose to his feet, waving his arms, saying this would be the worst thing that could ever happen to Britain. How old was I? Did I not remember 1940? We would be invaded by Germans coming through the tunnel. We must not give up our island status, etc., etc. It was very worrying. He is quite mad on this European issue – in fact more unbalanced and dogmatic than Tony Benn is on any issue. He must be kept away from top power.
    • Bernard Donoughue, diary entry (12 July 1977), quoted in Bernard Donoughue, Downing Street Diary, Volume Two: With James Callaghan in No. 10 (2008), p. 216
  • Peter Shore to dinner... I found him very anti-Benn, whom he thinks rather mad, skirting round the mountain of Healey, very pro-Foot. His views on world politics is that of an old-fashioned Atlanticist of the 1950s, very pro the Americans, on nearly all their attitudes, wise and unwise, which they have taken up over both Iran and Afghanistan. He is bitterly anti-Europe, particularly the French, where one has a bit of sympathy with him, but he goes much too far and regards them as not so much a nation as a conspiracy against the public weal. But the whole impression was one of somebody who is agreeable, intelligent, but miles off being a great man, and not very inspiriting either.
    • Roy Jenkins, diary entry (12 February 1980), quoted in Roy Jenkins, European Diary, 1977–1981 (1989), p. 569
  • At the [1983] election, Labour got stuck, thanks to P. Shore, as the party which favoured borrowing – another thing the British don't like.
    • Gerald Kaufman, remarks to Hugo Young (25 January 1984), quoted in Hugo Young, The Hugo Young Papers: Thirty Years of British Politics – Off the Record, ed. Ion Trewin (2008), p. 199
  • Silkin thinks Shore owes him a favour – for he stood down for Shore after they tied in the Shadow Cabinet elections in 1971 or 1972. They are, in a way, friends those two. Shore the more intelligent politician – but a man who always comes late into an issue. Very important political trait. In fact a real nationalist, with attitudes very similar to Enoch Powell, including on race (says very little about South Africa, you will notice). On foreign affairs, only interested in Europe, it seems.
    • David Owen, remarks to Hugo Young (20 March 1980), quoted in Hugo Young, The Hugo Young Papers: Thirty Years of British Politics – Off the Record, ed. Ion Trewin (2008), pp. 144-145
  • Courteous, courageous, perceptive and far-seeing, Peter Shore has served the Labour Party as an official and in Parliament, and the British public, for more than 40 years. Who can deny that his cool, logical conclusion that the UK's accession to the European Union has destroyed the basis of the British constitution and thereby our freedoms and contribution to representative democracy worldwide?
  • Within the party he is seen as a man with solid left-wing beliefs but for whom the successful application of policies is an essential part of their formulation. He is a principled and practical man, an unexcitable, almost ponderous person whose political impetus depends upon finding the most direct way of achieving socialist aims... It is just such rhetoric, delivered in sub-Churchillian tones, his hair flopping over his still youthful face, that his supporters consider to be an asset. For Mr Shore is a socialist who is not afraid to boast that he is British... His strengths are his youth—he is 56—his intelligence, his grasp of economics and his practical idealism which can appear inspirational when in full flight.
    • Nicholas Wapshott, 'Peter Shore: The shrewd socialist of inspiring practical idealism', The Times (29 September 1980), p. 9
  • I'll tell you who I think has developed remarkably: Peter Shore. He's really become very impressive.
  • The Other ClubPichon-Lalande 1970 excellent. Sat next to Peter Shore. He is a nice man. He says it's the first time in twenty-five years that he has been out of touch with the top leaders of the Labour Party. He said he had a lot of Bengalis in his constituency. Hugh Gaitskell had been blind to the perils of unlimited immigration.
    • Woodrow Wyatt, diary entry (14 July 1988), quoted in Woodrow Wyatt, The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt, Volume One, ed. Sarah Curtis (1998), p. 601
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