Brian Walden’s first love was chess, but was discouraged (read: physically beaten) out of pursuing it as a career by his working class, Irish Catholic mother. So he turned to his second love, politics, while studying at Oxford. He was a vocal supporter of then Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell and even wrote some of the OG centrist’s 1960 party conference speech, most notably the “fight, fight, and fight again” line.
Gaitskell’s death in 1963 was perhaps the most important moment in Walden’s life: he never really felt comfortable with any of the following Labour leaders, even after being elected to parliament the following year. He continued to drift rightwards, even by the ruptured standards of the time, and eventually stood down as an MP in 1977 over disagreements with the Transport Workers Union. He was also becoming a fan of the hot new leader of the Conservative Party, a certain Margaret Thatcher.
Post-parliament, Walden became the lead interviewer on LWT’s Weekend World and was soon regarded as the leading political questioner of his day. He was Thatcher’s favourite journalist for numerous years, at least until 1989 when he described her as “off her trolley”. Thatcher never spoke to him again and most see that interview as the beginning of the end for the Iron Lady. Well, that and the dementia.