Obituaries: David Gilroy Bevan

The first word that comes to mind when one thinks of David Gilroy Bevan is boisterous. That is in no way to suggest that he was a roisterer: he was, in fact, a teetotaller. But he was a man who campaigned in the General Election of 1979 in a red bus, followed by a fire engine which, he said, was to carry away bodies unburied by local authorities during Lord Callaghan's winter of discontent in 1978, and who went on to win the supposedly safe Labour seat of Birmingham, Yardley with a majority of over 2,000 in a general election year in which most opinion polls predicted a Conservative defeat.

Gilroy Bevan began his political career at a tender age: he was only 14 when he went canvassing his neighbours in the Conservative interest. Over the years, he acquired a quite exceptional knowledge of how local authorities worked (he served on Birmingham City Council and later the West Midlands County Council from 1959 to 1981); and it was this knowledge that he put to good use in winning Yardley. His achievement can be compared to that of Charles Morrison, who - totally against the then odds - won Devizes for the Tories in 1963 and Teddy (now Sir Teddy) Taylor who served as MP for the same party in the working-class constituency of Glasgow from 1964 to 1979, when the seat was so radically altered by the Boundaries Commission that even a heroically active candidate could not hold it.

One of the great things about Gilroy Bevan was how much he enjoyed the mundane, and often simply boring, business of local government. The combination of flamboyance and assiduity in his character appealed mightily to his constituents: in 1983 he even won applause from them by declaring that the only thing he had against Yardley was the fact that it lacked a yacht basin.

It was, alas for him, the exuberance of his nature which denied him governmental office. Whips - and ministers or shadow ministers - are invariably consulted on appointments. William Whitelaw considered Gilroy Bevan not reliable enough even to enjoy the pleasures and pains of being a Parliamentary Private Secretary - the lowest form of governmental life; he was just too difficult.

Whenever his party - quite understandably - wanted to fudge an issue, Gilroy Bevan opposed them. He supported capital punishment in 1981, opposed sanctions on the old South Africa throughout its existence, and managed to hold Yardley until his defeat in 1992.

But he had a life outside politics. Born 68 years ago, the son of an evangelical minister and his equally religiously uncompromising wife, David Gilroy Bevan (like Antony Crosland in the Labour Party) went on to defy the austere instincts of his parents. He made a fortune as an estate agent in Birmingham, and purchased a yacht and a house in Spain.

But all the while, he was known for his combination of indulgence, eccentricity and decency. The yacht was an indulgence; his support of a charity devoted to giving teddy bears to deprived children (including two bears given from his own substantial collection); and his essential - if somewhat derided - support of the "Keep Sunday Special" campaign all testified to the essential honour of the man's character.

David Gilroy Bevan sat, for a while, on the Select House of Commons Committee on Transport. But I will lay odds that he never took money for asking a question. To adapt a phrase, "By their words shall ye know them".

Andrew David Gilroy Bevan, estate agent and politician: born 10 April 1928; MP (Conservative) for Birmingham, Yardley 1979-92; married 1967 Cynthia Ann Villiers Boulstridge (one son, three daughters); died 12 October 1996.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines