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Tribute to Lord Hoyle – by Sir Lindsay Hoyle

Lord Doug Hoyle: 17 February 1926 – 6 April 2024 | Image courtesy of UK Parliament

4 min read

A chair of the PLP and later a minister in the Lords, my father was a kind, old-school gentleman who taught me the importance of public service. Mad about cricket and rugby league, he was my wingman, and I was his

There are few people who get to my age with their father still around – but I have been one of the lucky ones. His death has left me bereft, and with a huge hole in my life. After all, it feels like we have always been together. 

In 1957, when I was just a babe in arms, he took me to my first Labour Party conference. Soon after that, in Scarborough, I was throwing bacon from my highchair at Hugh Gaitskell, then leader of the Labour Party. 

By the age of six,  dad put me on the campaign trail, delivering leaflets to help in his first attempt to stand for Parliament in Clitheroe in 1964. We kept on going, determined  dad was going to get a seat, particularly in Nelson and Colne, which he won in the third time of trying back in 1974. 

Even defeat at the general election of 1979 did not put off my strong-minded father. Who can forget the hard fought and bitter Warrington by-election in 1981 where he overcame strong opposition from Roy Jenkins and the newly formed Social Democratic Party to secure a Labour victory! 

To say he fired up my interest in politics is an understatement. But what I learnt more from my father was the importance of service – and if you want to make a difference and create change, you must be a part of it. 

Born in February 1926,  dad was educated at Adlington School and Horwich Technical College. He then trained as a draftsman at Horwich Loco Works, moving to AEI, then as a design sales engineer for Charles Westons – but politics and sport was always his passion.

What I will miss the most about my father is his love and support

Forever mad about cricket, he even named me after the Australian batsman Lindsay Hassett, from the “Invincibles” – the 1948 touring team that went undefeated in all 34 matches it played in England that summer.

During his political career, my father was chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party from 1992-97 where he served as a member of the shadow cabinet. He was president of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union in 1990-91 and served on the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee.

He was also an outspoken member and president of the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs (ASTMS) trade union, from where he tried to get the Conservative government to act as an innovator with the private sector to provide workers with highly skilled jobs. 

In 1997, Tony Blair asked him to take a seat in the House of Lords. After initially being reluctant, he made the move from green benches to the red benches in the Lords, where he served as a government minister from 1997-1999. 

Another big distraction to us both during that time, was our joint love of rugby league – so I was beyond proud when dad became chairman of Warrington Wolves from 1999-2009, following which he was appointed president of the club.

Equally, as supporters of Bolton Wanderers, we often endured the highs and lows of sporting drama. 

As he slowed down in later years, my wife Catherine spent a lot of time looking after him, making sure he was comfortable and happy. They formed a tight bond, and I am truly grateful for the tenderness of her care. 

Quite apart from everything I have mentioned, what I will miss the most about my father is his love and support, particularly to me as an MP and now as Speaker.

Like me, he was very fond of animals, and always had dogs in his life. He was a kind, old school gentleman, with a sharp mind, great sense of humour and cutting wit. Everyone who met him was touched by his warmth and generosity which helped foster firm friendships. 

Hoyle family
December 2019 l-r: Sir Lindsay's daughter Emma, her husband Will, Sir Lindsay, his wife Catherine, and Lord Hoyle; front row: Mr Speaker's grandchildren Sophia and Austin | Image by: Jessica Taylor/ UK Parliament

Above all he was a family man, and he will be greatly missed by myself, Catherine, Emma, Will, the great grandchildren and the whole family. 

He was easy to talk to and always willing to listen. He was my wingman, and I was his. Not only have I lost my father – but today I realise, I have also lost my best friend.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle is Commons Speaker

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