Patrick Gordon Walker: A Political & Family Portrait by Alan Gordon Walker
6 October 2022
Patrick Gordon Walker was born in 1907
with a conservative background: his
father was a Judge in India. He went to
prep school (St Ronan’s), public school
(Wellington) and Christ Church, Oxford
as an undergraduate and then as a don.
In Oxford he cut his political teeth,
suff ering some of the pitfalls that dogged
his later time in offi ce. He spent a year in
Germany in the thirties, becoming fl uent
in the language and saw the beginnings
of totalitarian rule.
In the war he joined the BBC German
service broadcasting to Germany.
In 1945 he went with a radio car and
recorded the fi rst radio broadcasts from
Belsen, published as The Lid Lifts.
An extract from this book, long out of
print, appears as an addendum.
He became an MP in 1945, and was
Commonwealth Relations Secretary
from 1950-51, followed by thirteen
years in opposition. He lost his seat at
Smethwick in the 1964 general election,
but still became Foreign Secretary
until he was defeated in a by-election
at Leyton in January 1965 and had to
retire from his perfect job.
Patrick Gordon Walker was a signifi cant
political fi gure in the Labour party which
he joined as a don at Oxford. He was
denied the highest political offi ce, except
for brief spells in the Cabinet. He wrote six
important books, including The Lid Lifts,
The Commonwealth and The Cabinet.
He was a dedicated family man and
devoted to his fi ve children and his
wife Audrey and his children only have
the happiest memories of a witt y and
‘My father never wrote an autobiography,
and we were never quite sure why this was.
It seems right that his life should be recorded in
a political and family biography by one of his
children and the task has fallen to me. The book
traces my father’s life story, his political career
and his role as a family man. It has political
and family photographs and is hopefully a
fi tt ing tribute to him.’
ALAN GORDON WALKER