BHA mourns its patron Paul Rose, former MP and campaigner

4 November, 2015

Committed humanist and campaigner Paul Rose (1935-2015)

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is sad to announce the death of its Patron, Paul Rose, a former MP and a lifelong campaigner against fascism. He died yesterday in his home.

Born in 1935, Paul was educated at Bury Grammar School and Manchester University, where he began his career in the labour movement as Chair of the Manchester Federation of Young Socialists. He later became the editor of the left-wing news column Labour’s Northern Voice and served as Chair of the Manchester Left Club.

After being called to the bar in 1958, Paul found his attention increasingly turned to national politics. In 1964, he was elected as Labour’s Member of Parliament for Manchester Blackley, and was the youngest serving MP in the House of Commons. Paul was an exceptionally active MP, chairing his party’s Home Office Group and taking an active role in its internal campaigns for greater integration with Europe. His service was rewarded with a frontbench position as a spokesperson for industrial relations. He was also a committed member of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, and in that capacity campaigned for a secular state ensuring equality and human rights for all.

Even after resigning as an MP in 1979, before joining the Social Democratic Party in the mid-1980s, the driving passions of Paul’s political career continued to define his life. Troubled by the rise of far-right populism and racist attitudes in Britain, Paul committed himself to campaigns against the far-right National Front. He was also deeply committed to seeing Northern Irish citizens enjoy the same civil rights and freedoms as their fellow citizens in mainland Britain, and led the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster. He was an internationalist at heart, also serving on the Council of Europe and campaigning for the rights of Greek people during Greece’s military occupation.

More than anything, Paul was a profound humanist with a keen awareness of the harmful power of certain superstitious beliefs, so much so that he founded and became the first Chair of Family Action Information and Rescue, an anti-cult organisation. It was this same commitment to bettering lives and bringing about a more rational, humane future which led him to become a member of the BHA, which later appointed him as a Patron in recognition of his distinguished career in law and politics.

Outside of his career as an MP and campaigner, Paul also served as a Deputy Circuit Judge and wrote extensively on history, law, and politics.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Paul was a great example of a politician and a campaigner inspired by the humanist perspective to make the world a better place. He saw the rule of the law an essential guarantor of our freedoms and dedicated his life to opposing fascists and promoting human rights not just for the community in Manchester he served so loyally, but people everywhere. Paul deserves to be remembered for his enormous heart and tremendous political courage.’

Paul’s family and friends will remember his life in a humanist funeral ceremony in the coming days.


For further comment or information, please contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Campaigns Pavan Dhaliwal at or on 0773 843 5059.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.