Monday, October 06, 2008

George Thomson (1921-2008)

Lord Thomson of Monifieth, George Morgan Thomson, born in Monifieth, on the outskirts of Dundee, on 16 January 1921, who died in London on Friday, 3 October, was unrelated to the famous Thomson family of publishers. He was the son of James Thomson, a clerk who worked in the jute industry, and his wife Caroline. Educated at Grove Academy, Dundee, he began working for the famous Dundee-based D. C. Thomson publishing company at the age of 16, earning 15/- a week as a sub-editor on The Rover and the newly launched The Dandy Comic, whilst also reporting for the company's daily newspapers.

In 1940, Albert Barnes, the founding editor of The Dandy, joined the Royal Navy and the position of editor went to George Thomson for nine months before he too was called up. The wartime editorial chair then went to John Low, editor of The Rover and brother of R. D. Low, managing editor of all of Thomson's juvenile publications.

After serving with the R.A.F., George Thomson decided to leave Thomsons, instead becoming assistant editor of the long-established, although shakily financed, socialist weekly, Forward, based in Glasgow. He became editor in 1948 and oversaw the magazine's move to London, where it folded in 1953.

Thomson became MP for Dundee East in 1952 and thereafter followed a political career. He was a Labour MP in 1955, becoming junior foreign secretary in Harold Wilson's 1964 Labour government. After the party's defeat in 1970, he became shadow defence spokesman but resigned in 1972 over disagreement's about Labour's policies towards Europe. Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath appointed him to the European Commission.

He was made a life peer in 1977 and was later chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (1981-88). In 1989 he joined the Liberal Democrats and was the party's spokesman on foreign affairs and broadcasting.

Obituaries: The Times (6 October); Daily Telegraph (6 October); The Independent (6 October); The Guardian (6 October).

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