James Lamond

James Lamond

Labour MP, Aberdeen councillor and lord provost

Born: 29 November, 1928, in Burrelton, Perthshire. Died: 20 November, 2007, in Aberdeen, aged 78.

HE WAS hardly a typical left-wing rebel. James Lamond cut a refined, distinguished appearance both at Westminster and in Aberdeen. Quietly spoken and well-dressed, he was often labelled as one of the Old Labour stalwarts. His name was often mentioned in the 1970s alongside Tony Benn and Eric Heffer, but Lamond's genuine and hard-held convictions marked him out as a hard-working MP who campaigned for world peace and a constructive understanding between nations. When accused of being a Soviet sympathiser, he rounded on his accusers in the Commons with a gracious dignity.

James Alexander Lamond was the son of a railway guard, and after attending Coupar Angus School, he worked in the shipyards at Aberdeen. He qualified as an engineer and became active in the trades union movement; especially through the Aberdeen Trades Council.

In 1959, Lamond stood for the Aberdeen Council and became a valued member. He also served as the city's treasurer and a hard-working lord provost and lord lieutenant of Aberdeen in 1970.

Lamond failed to gain selection as the Labour candidate for Aberdeen North and the Engineering Union backed his candidacy for Oldham, which he won in 1970 by 1,000 votes. He was a popular MP and worked hard for the constituency. When he retired 22 years later, his majority had grown to more than 8,000. His selection meant breaking his ties with Aberdeen.

It was, perhaps, too easy to include Lamond on the hard left of the party. His membership of the World Peace Council (WPC), a communist-sympathising organisation, gave rise to some suspicion.

In 1974, his name was included in a list of Labour MPs of interest to the security services. This led to heated comments in the Commons in 1980 when a Tory minister, in a debate on human rights, suggested the WPC (of which Lamond was then vice-president) "was a disguised instrument of Soviet policy". Lamond explained his connections with the WPC and challenged any member to give evidence of any funds coming from the Soviet Union. If they did, he added, "I shall resign my position immediately". Indeed, Lamond's membership reflected his life-long commitment to peace and disarmament.

In 1983, he returned to Aberdeen and was a member of Grampian Regional Council and Aberdeen City Council. He also worked for numerous charities, particularly the Royal Aberdeen Workshops for the Blind and Disabled.

Len Ironside, a fellow Labour councillor, told of his admiration for Lamond. He said: "Jim was a great strength to the Labour movement and to the city of Aberdeen.

"He was wonderfully articulate and could marshal an argument with powerful ease. He was totally honourable, genuine and always fought on behalf of the underdog.

"Jim was chairman of the strategic planning committee for Aberdeen Council when Dyce airport was expanded. All his powers of patience and conciliation were needed to bring together the various parties, who all had their own agenda. Jim, to his lasting credit, was never a member of any faction; he was his own man. He never lost his love for Aberdeen."

Lamond married June Wellburn in 1954. She and their three daughters survive him.