British Labour politician; a cabinet minister in the Labour governments of the 1960s and 1970s. She led the Labour group in the European Parliament 1979–89 and became a life peer in 1990.
Castle was minister of overseas development 1964–65, transport 1965–68, employment 1968–70 (when her White Paper In Place of Strife, on trade-union reform, was abandoned because it suggested state intervention in industrial relations), and social services 1974–76, when she was dropped from the cabinet by Prime Minister James Callaghan. She criticized him in her Diaries (1980).
Castle was born in Bradford and educated at Bradford Girls' Grammar School and St Hugh's College, Oxford. She entered Parliament as Labour MP for Blackburn in 1945, and was chair of the Labour Party 1958–59.
Her proposals for the reform of industrial relations, In Place of Strife, encountered considerable opposition from the trade-union movement and within the Labour Party because they sought to create a legal framework for industrial relations, including a number of penal sanctions. The proposals were dropped in the face of this opposition, although she remained secretary of state until Labour's defeat in 1970.
She campaigned vigorously against Britain's entry into the European Economic Community between 1970 and the referendum of 1975. In March 1974 she became secretary of state for social services, but she was dropped from the government following its reconstruction on the appointment of James Callaghan as prime minister in 1976.
Her autobiography, Fighting All the Way, was published in 1993.
(1910–) United Kingdom During her long life in public service as the “First Lady of Socialism,” the indomitable Labour politician Barbara...
An ardent and vociferous defender of socialism, Barbara Castle spent 34 years in the House of Commons, during which she...
n 1 (Leonard) James, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff. 1912–2005, British Labour statesman; prime minister (1976–79)