About Jesse Dickson "Dick" Mabon
Dr. Jesse Dickson "Dick" Mabon PC FRSA
(1 November 1925 – 10 April 2008) was a Scottish politician, physician and company director. He was the founder of The Manifesto Group of Labour MPs, an alliance of moderate MPs against the perceived leftward drift of the Labour Party in the 1970s. He was a Labour Co-operative MP until October 1981, when he joined the Social Democratic Party. He left Parliament in 1983, and rejoined the Labour Party in 1991.
Mabon was born in Glasgow, the son of Jesse Dickson Mabon, a butcher, and his wife, Isabel Simpson (née Montgomery). He was educated at Possilpark primary school, Cumbrae primary school and North Kelvinside Academy. He worked as a Bevin Boy in the coal mining industry in Lanarkshire during the Second World War, before Army service (1944–48).
He studied medicine at Glasgow University after he was demobilised. He was chairman of the Labour Club (1948–50), then chairman of the National Association of Labour Students in 1949-1950, and finally president of Glasgow University Union in 1951–52, and of the Scottish Union of Students, 1954–55.
In 1955, he won The Observer Mace, speaking with A. A. Kennedy and representing Glasgow University. In 1995, the competition was renamed the John Smith Memorial Mace and is now run by the English-Speaking Union.
He was political columnist for the Scottish Daily Record from 1955 to 1964, and studied under Dr Kissinger at Harvard University in 1963. He was also a visiting physician at Manor House Hospital, London, 1958–64.
Mabon was the unsuccessful Labour candidate for Bute and North Ayrshire in 1951, and Labour Co-operative candidate for Renfrewshire West in 1955. He was elected as Labour Co-operative member of parliament for Greenock at a by-election in December 1955, replacing Tony Benn as Labour's youngest MP. He held that seat (from 1974 Greenock and Port Glasgow) until 1983. He became a frontbench spokesman on health in 1962.
He was a junior minister as joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (1964–67) and as promoted to Minister of State for Scotland, 1967–70. After Labour lost the 1970 general election, he became Deputy Opposition Spokesman on Scotland, but resigned in April 1972 over Labour's attitude to the Common Market. Although he supported Roy Jenkins in the election for a new leader of the Labour party in 1976, Jim Callaghan appointed him as Minister of State in the Department of Energy (1976–79), where he took charge of North Sea oil. He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1977.
He was also a Member of the Council of Europe and of the Assembly of the Western European Union, 1970–72 and 1974–76, and of the North Atlantic Assembly, 1980–82. He was Chairman of the European Movement, 1975–76 (and deputy Chairman, 1979–83), and Founder Chairman of the Manifesto Group in the Parliamentary Labour Party (1974–76), set up to counter the left-wing Tribune group.
He became a member of the Social Democratic Party in October 1981. The party was founded by the Gang of Four in March 1981, but Mabon later called himself a founder member of the party. He unsuccessfully contested Renfrew West and Inverclyde for the SDP in 1983 after the local Liberals refused to stand their candidate down for him in his previous seat, and fought Renfrew West again for the SDP/Alliance in 1987, and also the Lothians seat in the 1984 election for the European Parliament.
He was chairman of SOS Children's Villages UK until 1993 and tried to get an SOS Children's Village built in Scotland first near Glasgow and then at Stirling; he was foiled by local councils who did not want the stigma of charitable help.
He rejoined the Labour Party in 1991, and subsequently became a member of the executive committee of Eastbourne Labour Party until 2004.
Mabon, whose first directorship had been at Radio Clyde in the 1970s, added a non-executive directorship with East Midlands Electricity to his place at Cairn; in 1992 he urged John Major's government to privatise British Coal in two halves with one going to an East Midland-led consortium including himself. He kept up his interest in medicine, in 1990 becoming president of the Faculty of the History of Medicine. Mabon was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and a Freeman of the City of London.
He married Elizabeth Zinn, an actress, in 1970. They had one son.
Mabon died, aged 82, at his home in Eastbourne He was survived by his wife and their son.
1.^ "'Mr Oil', the minister who helped launch North Sea oil industry, dies aged 82", Daily Record (Daily Record), 11 April 2008, http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/news-feed/2008/04/11/minister-dubbed-mr-oil-is-dead-86908-20378974
Obituary, The Daily Telegraph, 14 April 2008 Obituary, The Independent, 14 April 2008 Obituary, The Times, 15 April 2008 Obituary, The Guardian, 15 April 2008 Government offices Preceded by Lord Balogh Minister for Energy 1976–1979 Succeeded by Hamish Gray Preceded by George Willis Minister of State for Scotland 1967–1970 Succeeded by Baroness Tweedsmuir Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded by Hector McNeil Member of Parliament for Greenock 1955–Feb 1974 Succeeded by (constituency abolished) Preceded by (new constituency) Member of Parliament for Greenock and Port Glasgow Feb 1974–1983 Succeeded by Norman Godman