Educated at Buckhaven Higher Grade School, he worked as a draper's apprentice, messenger boy and miner. Westwood was an Industrial Organiser for Fife miners from 1916–18 and a political organiser for Scottish Miners from 1918 to 1929.
Westwood was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Peebles and Southern Midlothian from November 1922 until his defeat in October 1931. He was an unsuccessful candidate for East Fife in a by-election in February 1933 and was elected for Stirling and Falkirk in 1935, for which he sat until his death.
He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to William Adamson as Secretary of State for Scotland from June 1929, and served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland from March to August 1931 and again from May 1940 until May 1945. He was Secretary of State for Scotland from July 1945 until October 1947. He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1943.
He died in a car accident in 1948. His is buried in Dysart Cemetery, by Kirkcaldy in Fife, together with his wife.
- Torrance, David, The Scottish Secretaries (Birlinn 2006)
- Iain Dale, ed. (2003). The Times House of Commons 1929, 1931, 1935. Politico's (reprint). ISBN 1-84275-033-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- The Times House of Commons 1945. 1945.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Joseph Westwood
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Donald Maclean
|Member of Parliament for Peebles and Southern Midlothian
Archibald Maule Ramsay
|Member of Parliament for Stirling and Falkirk
Earl of Rosebery
|Secretary of State for Scotland
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