Sir Joseph Edwards
Member of Parliament
Sir Joseph Edwards
Born 22nd October 1933
Full name Sir Joseph Edwards M.P. M.A. K.B.E.
Constituency Deptford
Political Party Labour
Religion Church of England
Spouse None
Office(s) Held Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Sir Joseph Edwards (born 22 October 1933) is a British socialist politician. He is Labour Member of Parliament for Deptford, and has been Shadow Leader of the House of Commons since 1973.

Early lifeEdit

Edwards was born in Deptford, London, the son of a plumber and a second-generation Irish immigrant. He attended Stillness Primary School (remaining in London and at the school during the Second World War) and then St. Olave's Grammar School in Southwark, after passing the Eleven Plus examination. Adopting an interest in education and politics from a young age, Edwards was accepted into Oxford to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at New College. During this time he was rejected for National Service, owing to his notable and persistent physical weakness and lack of fitness. Achieving a master's degree, he returned to Deptford, and took up a post teaching economics at the local grammar school.

Edwards had joined the Labour Party at the age of 16, and became very much active within the party and the movement first at Oxford, where he was an officer for the National Union of Students and a common debater at the Oxford Union, and then as a teacher, where he joined the National Union of Teachers and quickly gained note in the local party. After unsuccessfully contesting a safe ward in Lewisham in a 1958 local by-election he was selected for a safe ward near his home in north Deptford, becoming a councillor in 1960 and winning the ward of Marlowe following the merger of Deptford and Lewisham councillors in 1964, narrowly winning re-election in 1968.

While teaching, Edwards would go on to write two textbooks; "Studies of Applied Modern Economics for Students" was published in 1962, while "An Examination of Keynesian Economics" was published in 1965. A third book, "A History of the Labour Movement in Britain", was released in early 1969 to moderate critical success.


Shortly after the release of his third book, Cabinet minister John Silkin announced he was to retire as a MP at the next election, prompting a fierce selection battle for the candidacy in his safe seat, Lewisham Deptford. Edwards, by this time deputy leader of the Labour Party on Lewisham Council, narrowly won victory over several opponents and was elected in the 1970 general election with a comfortable majority.

An outspoken opponent of the European Economic Community and firmly on the left of the party as well as a persuasive orator, Edwards was appointed as a junior whip in 1972, and then as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons in a surprising reshuffle in 1973, a position he held through the remainder of the Parliament.


Edwards received a knighthood from the New Year's Honours List, 1969, for his services to education; by this point he had been a teacher for over a decade and the writer of two aforementioned textbooks, as well as a contributor to several others. He is notably the only sitting Labour Member of Parliament with such a title.

Preceded by:
John Silkin
Member of Parliament for Deptford
1970 - present
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
1973 - present
Succeeded by:
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.