13:16, June 06 38 0 theguardian.com

2018-06-06 13:16:26
Other lives  Michael Barnes obituary

Michael Barnes, who has died aged 85, was the Labour MP for Brentford and Chiswick in west London from 1966 to 1974 and subsequently had a long career in public service, culminating in serving as the legal services ombudsman for England and Wales (1991-97).

Mickey, as he was generally known, was born in Painswick, Gloucestershire, to Maj Cecil Barnes, a veteran of both world wars and a Tory constituency agent, and his wife, Katherine (nee Kennedy), who came from a Protestant, but ardently republican, family in Dublin.

Educated at Malvern school, he spent most of his national service in Hong Kong, where he served as a second lieutenant in the Wiltshire regiment, before proceeding to Oxford, where he studied Greek, Latin and ancient history. Spurred on by the Suez crisis, the influence of his girlfriend, Anne Mason, whom he married in 1962, and by reading Tony Crosland’s Future of Socialism, he joined the Labour party during his last year at university.

After several years working for advertising agencies, including Crawford’s and J Walter Thompson, he became an MP at the age of 32. Standing out from the crowd as tall, handsome, eloquent and with an attractive personality, he quickly made his mark by speaking out in support of refugees from the Biafran civil war and Bangladesh’s struggle for independence from Pakistan.

He also served as a frontbench spokesman on food policy. We became friends after I was elected as a fellow MP, for Romford, in 1970, and when a vote took place on joining the EEC in 1971, we found ourselves among the 69 Labour MPs who defied a three-line whip to support the membership terms negotiated by Edward Heath.

This turned out to be our parliamentary swansong. The redistribution that came into effect at the February 1974 election destroyed both our majorities. Michael fought the new Brentford and Isleworth seat, but lost to his Tory rival, Barney Hayhoe, by 726 votes. He never contested another election, joining the Social Democratic party at its foundation but returning to Labour two years later.

Apart from working part-time for the Gulbenkian Foundation, his later life was devoted to serving at a senior level for a series of quangos, in each of which he was greatly admired for his dedication, skill and diplomacy. Appointed CBE in 1998, he took great satisfaction from his work.

He is survived by Anne, their two children, Hugh and Kate, and six grandchildren.