Lord Gallacher of Enfield, stalwart of Co-operative movement

Born: 7 May, 1920, in Dunbartonshire

Died: 4 January, 2004, in Kent, aged 83

JOHN Gallacher worked for and championed the cause of the Co-operative Wholesale Society all his life, devoting his career to furthering its prestige and its aims.

He argued that the Co-op had to modernise itself and prepare to compete in an increasingly competitive industry, and in 2000, Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, set up a committee, under the TUC general secretary John Monks, to report on those criteria and the long-standing financial relationship between the Labour Party and the Co-op.

On his elevation to the House of Lords in 1982, Gallacher became a much respected spokesman on agricultural matters.

John Gallacher was born in Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, and was educated at St Patrick’s High School in Dumbarton. On leaving school, he served in the Royal Air Force before joining the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society in Dumbarton as a trainee.

He received further education and his first employment from the Co-op. After Dumbarton, he headed south in 1949 to the then new Co-operative College in Loughborough. His first appointment was as an educational secretary at the Royal Arsenal Co-op in London, and he later moved to a senior post with the Enfield Highway Co-op, also in London.

Between 1973 and 1984, he was a most successful parliamentary secretary of the movement, and it was as a result of that posting that he was created a life peer in 1982. The peerage was given to several Labour members at that time on the understanding that they would be working peers. Gallacher was certainly that. He was a most learned and active member of the economic and social committee of the European Commission and spoke with much authority from the opposition front bench on agriculture and European matters.

He was always balanced, fair and well-versed, and had the ability to pose a question succinctly. From 1985-92, he served with distinction as a Labour whip in the Lords.

Lengthy illness (heart disease and Parkinson’s) made him withdraw to his beloved garden in Kent but his able mind kept him in touch with political matters.

Gallacher had met his wife, Freda, while both were serving in the RAF during the war. She and their son survive him.