Born 10 July 1894, the son of Rev. J.R. Hughes, 94 Henry Street, Tonypandy, Glamorganshire, minister (C.M.) and Annie (née Williams) his wife. He was educated at the council school at Abercynon, Glamorganshire, Mountain Ash secondary school and Leeds college of education. As a schoolmaster and journalist at Pontypridd and the Rhondda, he became an enthusiastic member of the Labour Party and came into close contact with Keir Hardie, M.P. In the general election of 1923 he stood unsuccessfully as the Labour candidate for the Bosworth division of Leicestershire. Between 1931 and 1946 he edited Forward, the newspaper of the Socialist movement in Scotland. Hughes gained a wide experience of the activities of local government, experience which proved of great benefit to him following his election as M.P. (Lab.) for south Ayrshire at a by-election in February 1946. He continued to represent this division in Parliament until his death. He edited a Scottish edition of Tribune after World War II. Throughout the rest of his career he stood on the left wing of the Labour Party, he remained on the back benches of the House of Commons, and he was considered a fiery rebel. He was deprived of the Labour Party whip from November 1954 until April 1955 after voting against the readiness of the Conservative government to accept German rearmament rather than abstaining in keeping with Labour Party instructions. He again lost the Labour whip between March 1961 and May 1963 after he had chosen to vote against the armed service estimates. He was an unwavering pacifist, and spent a year in Caernarfon gaol during World War I. Hughes was a regular visitor to Moscow, a close friend of the poet Samuel Marshak, and a constant opponent of the activities of N.A.T.O.
Emrys Hughes published a large number of biographies and other works, among them Keir Hardie (1950; new ed. 1957), a volume which gave him particular pleasure, Winston Churchill in war and peace (1950) and Winston Churchill: the British bulldog (1955), studies which revealed their author's loathing of their subject. He was also the author of Pilgrim's progress in Russia (1957), Macmillan: portrait of a politician (1962), Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1964), Parliament and mumbo jumbo (1966), The prince, the crown and the cash (1969), and Sidney Silverman: rebel in Parliament (1970), a volume which appeared posthumously. Hughes was always prepared to make use of his literary talents for the good of the Labour Party, and he published a number of Socialist and anti-war booklets.
He married (1) in 1924 Nan, daughter of Keir Hardie. She shared his political philosophy and ideals, and her death in 1947 was a heavy blow to him from which he never fully recovered. He married (2) in 1949 Martha, daughter of P.M. Cleland, a Glasgow schoolmaster. He made his home at Lochnorris, Cumnock in Ayrshire, and he died 18 October 1969 while still a member of the House of Commons. His remains were cremated at Masonhill crematorium. His papers were deposited at the National Library of Scotland.
Published date: 2001
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