Murray, Lionel (Len), Baron Murray of Epping Forest, OBE

Trade unionist, born on 2 August 1922 at Hadley, Shropshire, the son of a farm labourer. Both parents died when he was 8. He was educated at Wellington Grammar School and Queen Mary College, London. After army service, which included the D-Day landing on a Normandy beach, he studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at New College, Oxford, where he was elected an Honorary Fellow in 1975. He joined the staff of the Trades Union Congress, serving in its economics department under George Woodcock and as its head in 1954. He succeeded Vic Feather as General Secretary 1973 - 1984, a decade which saw the 'winter of discontent' and the power of the trades unions shattered. He was a supporter of the Social Contract and of the National Economic Development Council, but his encouragement of wage restraint was defeated by the 'winter of discontent', 1978-79.

He was appointed OBE in 1966 and a member of the Privy Council in 1976. Retiring three years early in 1984, he was made a Life Peer in 1985 in recognition of his distinguished public service. He was essentially a private man who did not covet the limelight. He was a Methodist local preacher and in retirement served as Vice-Chairman and Treasurer of NCH. He died on 20 May 2004.

He and his wife Heather (1923 - 2018) were married in 1945 when he was working as an economist with the TUC. She had trained as a nurse and, on arriving in London, attended the Whitechapel Mission. This association with its social ministry there continued to command the active interest of them both for the whole of their lives, even when they'd moved to a suburban home in Loughton. She accompanied her husband on a wide variety of events and conferences generated by the Trades Union movement and the Labour Party and worked hard to create better opportunities for women in both environments. She entertained a wide variety of social and political leaders of the time. She helped run a day centre, became a pastoral leader, was deeply involved in the work of NCH, founded a debating/study group, helped in a Barnardo's shop, became a school governor and served as President of the local history society. While her husband had a high profile in the industrial and political life of the nation, she applied all the principles he fought for by enhancing the lives of so many people in their everyday lives.


'As a speaker he was at his best in a small gathering, preferably with some old friend to play foil to his witticisms. He was always sure of what he was about, sometimes to the extent that the very ox-like style in which he chose to put across a piece of irony sent it clear over the heads of those unfamiliar with the mind behind it. Away from the stage, he was a warm and understanding friend.'

Times, 22 May 2004

  • Methodist Recorder, 1 Nov 1973; 17 June 2004
  • Times, 22 May 2004
  • Telegraph, 22 May 2004