George Thomson, Baron Thomson of Monifieth

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Thomson of Monifieth
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
8 July 1970 – 10 April 1972
Leader Harold Wilson
Preceded by Geoffrey Rippon
Succeeded by Fred Peart
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
6 October 1969 – 20 June 1970
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Frederick Lee
Succeeded by Anthony Barber
In office
6 April 1966 – 7 January 1967
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Douglas Houghton
Succeeded by Frederick Lee
Minister without Portfolio
In office
17 October 1968 – 6 October 1969
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Patrick Gordon Walker
Succeeded by Lord Drumalbyn
Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs
In office
29 August 1967 – 17 October 1968
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Herbert Bowden
Succeeded by Office Abolished
Member of Parliament
for Dundee East
In office
17 July 1952 – 1 March 1973
Preceded by Thomas Cook
Succeeded by George Machin
Personal details
Born (1921-01-16)16 January 1921
Penn, Buckinghamshire, England
Died 16 October 2008(2008-10-16) (aged 87)
Lambeth, London, England
Political party Liberal Democrat
Other political
Labour Party (-1981), Social Democratic Party (1981-1988)
Spouse(s) Lady Thomson
Children Caroline Thomson

George Morgan Thomson, Baron Thomson of Monifieth, KT, PC, DL, FRSE (16 January 1921 – 3 October 2008), was a journalist and British politician belonging to the Labour Party.

In the 1980s, he joined the Social Democratic Party. Following the SDP's merger with the Liberal Party, he became a Liberal Democrat and sat as a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords.

Early life

Thomson was educated at Grove Academy, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, and served in the Royal Air Force from 1941–46. He was the editor of The Forward, a Dundee newspaper from 1946–56.[citation needed]

Political career

At the 1950 and 1951 general elections, Thomson stood unsuccessfully in Glasgow Hillhead. In 1952, he was elected Member of Parliament in a by-election for Dundee East, where he served until his resignation in 1972. He served in the Wilson government as Minister of State, Foreign Office, from October 1964 to April 1966, then as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster from 1966–67, and again from 1969–70, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs from 1967–68, and Minister without Portfolio from 1968–69. During his time as Commonwealth Secretary he had responsibility for trying to reach a settlement of the Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) question and for implementing sanctions against the regime there. He was one of the first British Commissioners of the European Community (EC) from 1973–77, with responsibility for regional policy. As chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority from 1981–88 he oversaw the introduction of Channel 4 and TV-am.[1]

He was Chair of the Advertising Standards Authority from 1977–80; Chair of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) 1981–88; a European Commissioner, with responsibility for Regional Policy 1973–76; First Crown Estate Commissioner from 1977–80; and a Member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life from 1994 until 1997. He was Deputy Chair of the Woolwich Building Society from 1988–91. He had been a Lords' Member of the Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit since 1993. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Television Society, and a patron of Sustrans.[2]

In 1985 he was invited to deliver the MacMillan Memorial Lecture to the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland; he chose "Does Public Broadcasting Have a Future? The Challenge of the New Technologies". After moving with his wife, Grace, to Charing, Kent, Thomson held the position of Party President, for Ashford Liberal Democrats, from 1999–2006.[citation needed]


He died on Friday 3 October 2008 at London's St Thomas' Hospital, from a viral infection.[3][4] He was survived by his wife, Grace, Lady Thomson (1925-2014),[5] and their two daughters, Ailsa and Caroline,[6] the former Chief Operating Officer of the BBC.


Thomson was made a Privy Councillor in 1966, was created a Life Peer on 23 March 1977 as Baron Thomson of Monifieth, of Monifieth in the District of the City of Dundee,[7] and became a Knight of the Thistle in 1981.[8]


  1. "Lord Thomson of Monifieth". Retrieved 9 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Sustrans: join the movement". Retrieved 4 October 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Former Minister Lord Thomson dies
  4. Daily Record obituary for Lord Thomson
  5. Tam Dalyell "Lady Thomson: Wife of the MP George Thomson who helped smooth her husband’s path to success in Brussels", The Independent, 24 August 2014
  6. Tom Leonard "BBC steps into new bias row", Daily Telegraph, 22 July 2000
  7. The London Gazette: no. 47181. p. 4039. 24 March 1977.
  8. The London Gazette: no. 48810. p. 15283. 1 December 1981.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Cook
Member of Parliament for Dundee East
Succeeded by
George Machin
Political offices
Preceded by
Douglas Houghton
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Frederick Lee
Preceded by
Herbert Bowden
Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs
Succeeded by
Michael Stewart
as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Title last held by
The Lord Carrington
Minister without Portfolio
Title next held by
The Lord Drumalbyn
Preceded by
Frederick Lee
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Anthony Barber