Monday 26 March 2012

RIP Lord Newton (Con) 1937 -2012

In the last 18 months, it has been rare indeed for me to come across a politician of any party who was prepared to speak his or her mind. Truly speak their mind and speak for justice impervious to the Whip.

Lord Antony Harold "Tony" Newton, Baron Newton of Braintree, PC, OBE, DL did just that. 

One of the few Conservative peers to champion the vulnerable throughout the passage of the Welfare Reform Bill, he spoke out on plans to charge destitute mothers or fathers to use the Child Support Agency. Because of his determination, many thousands of parents, at their lowest ebb, facing the darkest of times, will now face a fee of £20 rather than £100 to get justice and security for their children.

He spoke out for disabled children, tried to save the social fund and opposed cutting legal aid for welfare cases. Very few others challenged their own government in this way. 

He leant on one arm when speaking - a technique I note David Cameron adopts at the despatch box. His wise words drew many a debate back into focus and whilst he by no means opposed the entire bill, that balance added integrity when he did. 

His rather sharp rebukes were offered with gentlemanly humour and decades of experience. As a previous Minister for Disabled people, he knew very well why Disability Living Allowance had been introduced and how it was designed to provide for the extra costs of disability -  regardless of means or employment status. 

He had a rather grumpy air, a dismissal of pomp and hypocrisy - from any party - that breathed life into the stuffy chamber. 

There were few in the House like "Tony" Newton. I am Spartacus, and I thank you. 

May your memory somehow influence today's inheritors of your legacy. They needed you more than they knew. 

RIP Lord Newton, (29 August 1937 – 25 March 2012


  1. Thank you and rest in peace. I am Spartacus

  2. I noticed his name appear a lot during our fight with the dreaded welfare reform bill and how he spoke up for those less fortunate. My sincere condolences to his family at this sad time. Thank you Lord Newton. I am Spartacus.

  3. He was certainly there till the end. He was dismissive at first about us (he was the one who whinged about getting 'tons of emails') but I did wonder if he was long for this world as he persistently sported oxygen lines across his cheeks before he'd get up to speak (I think he probably took the oxygen off before talking).

    Well done, Lord Newton, and thank you. I am Spartacus

  4. Feels strange that I only came to know you through the welfare reform Bill.. Though disappointed at times I came to respect your opinions & Sue says very well how you stood up & fought.. Your experience & arguments most certainly contributed to the defeats that the coalition sadly overturned with 'Finacial Privilege', tho as Sue says some safety measures were gained...
    I find myself sad that you have moved on & inspired & humbled that you fought to the end.. Rest in Peace Lord Newton.. I send all best wishes to your family & loved ones.. 'Nita

    1. P.s. I am spartacus.. 'Nita

  5. I knew Tony well from the early eighties but i think anything positive about him may be misplaced they were very dark days for me having to fight the DWP by myself in those days and his good friend at that time peter lilley was a very dangerous person when he took over where the sick and disabled were concerned

    I'll pass on this one I've lived through these people and still very much bear the scars so it would be very foolish of me to praise anyone

    for the record and i have all of the records from that period 1989/1992 Tony was a key figure in child benefit only not the sick and disabled

    And peter lilley the same in office 1992/1997 their again only positive about child benefit and to hell with the sick and disabled

    To the best of my knowledge and this MY speciality topic there has been no one mp or lord in the past 50 years with anything good to say in public or private about the sick or disabled in which they have demonstrated their concern that has never happened and never will do so we must be very clear on this
    I do get emails from lords etc in saying nice things to me but the reality is that doesn't happen at the local DWP level only death if you let it a very big difference to what is actually going on and to what a mp or lord thinks is going on

  6. May your soul rest and peace. Thank you for the memories.
    buy rs gold