Viscount Tonypandy

George Thomas, Viscount Tonypandy (1909-1997) was a British Labour politician. He was Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central in Wales from 1945 to 1983. A deeply religious man and a former teacher, he was one of the first on the scene of the Aberfan disaster, which occurred while he was a Minister at the Welsh Office. As Secretary of State for Wales from 1968 to 1970, he presided over the investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarvon Castle in 1969.

During Thomas's term of office as Speaker of the House of Commons from 1976 to 1983, the first broadcasting of Parliamentary proceedings brought him unprecedented public attention, but he proved more impartial than party colleagues had expected. In 1983 he retired and was created Viscount Tonypandy, one of the last creations of a hereditary peerage. Thomas was always opposed to Welsh nationalism: one of his final political acts was his public opposition to the Blair government's devolution proposals of 1997.

After Tonypandy's death, a former Welsh Labour MP, Leo Abse, created a controversy by revealing that Thomas had been homosexual and had been the victim of blackmail for this reason. Abse, the MP who introduced the private member's bill which decriminalised homosexuality in Britain, discussed this incident in his book Tony Blair: The Man Behind the Smile. He said that Thomas had paid money to blackmailers to keep his "gay lifestyle" secret. Abse said that he had once lent Thomas 800 pounds to pay off blackmailers.

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