Norman Buchan

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Norman Findlay Buchan (27 October 1922 – 23 October 1990) was a Labour Party politician, who was on the left-wing of the party, and represented the West Renfrewshire seat from 1964 until 1983 and the Paisley South seat from 1983 until his death in 1990.

Early life[edit]

A schoolteacher based in Rutherglen, he was interested in folk music, compiling a book entitled 101 Scottish Songs,[1] often referred to as The Wee Red Book.[2][3]

Political career[edit]

At the 1964 Rutherglen by-election, he only lost the Labour selection meeting fairly narrowly to Gregor Mackenzie, and he went on to take West Renfrewshire from the Conservatives at the general election later that year. Whilst a Member of Parliament, he served as Joint Under Secretary of State for Scotland from 1966 to 1970, and as Minister of State for Agriculture from 1974 to 1979. He later became Shadow Minister for the Arts in opposition.

Buchan opposed an early day motion to block the televised version of Tony Harrison's poem "V" on Channel 4, saying that members who opposed the broadcast had either not read or understood the poem.

Buchan was also influential in changing the voting system[clarification needed] for the referendum on Scottish Home Rule in the late-1970s.

He abstained during Labour's 1981 deputy leadership election, commenting: "My brain turned against Benn, but my stomach turned against Healey." [4]

He died in 1990 (coincidentally, the neighbouring MP for Paisley North, Allen Adams also died that year, resulting in by-elections being held in the same month for the two seats). He was succeeded as MP for Paisley South by Gordon McMaster of the Labour Party.


He was married for 44 years (1946–1990) to Janey Buchan (née Kent), Labour Member of the European Parliament for Glasgow from 1979 to 1994. She died in Brighton on 14 January 2012.[5] His only son, Alasdair Buchan, has been a journalist since 1968.


  1. ^ Buchan, Norman. 101 Scottish Songs (Glasgow; London: Collins, 1962).
  2. ^ "101 Scottish Songs".
  3. ^ "Norman Buchan: 101 Scottish Songs".
  4. ^ "Buchan, folk-singing socialist". The Times. 24 October 1990.
  5. ^ "Janey Buchan obituary". The Guardian. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2018.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Scott Maclay
Member of Parliament for West Renfrewshire
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Paisley South
Succeeded by
Gordon McMaster