Leeds MPs

COHEN, Stanley (1927–2004) Labour. Tailor and railway clerk.

Of Irish extraction, he started work as a tailor at 14 years-of-age and was then conscripted into the Royal Navy during World War II. When he was demobbed he took up employment with British Railways. Politics, however, began to occupy him more and more and in1952, after joining the Labour Party, he became the youngest Leeds City councillor. He was defeated in the 1966 general election for the safe Tory seat of Barkston Ash but when Alice Bacon retired, in 1970 he won Leeds South East in the general election that year. He was further successful in the elections of 1974 and 1979. He twice held the position of Parliamentary Private Secretary; to Harold Walker in the Department of Employment in 1976, and to Gordon Oakes in the Department of Education and Science from 1977–1979. He was always seen as a conventional right-winger in the party but that never stopped him criticising both the Wilson and Callaghan administrations if he saw fit. Some of his views, however, were bitterly resented by radicals in his constituency. As a devout Roman Catholic he opposed abortion whilst he was a strong pro-European and an opponent  of unilateral nuclear disarmament. Consequently in 1982 he was deselected. For further reading see The Guardian, 27 February 2004.