Reginald Sorensen, Baron Sorensen

Reginald William Sorensen, Baron Sorensen (19 June 1891 8 October 1971) was a Unitarian minister and Labour Party politician in the United Kingdom. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) for over thirty years between 1929 and 1964.

At the 1923 general election, he was an unsuccessful candidate in Southampton, coming fourth in the two-seat constituency. He stood again in the 1934 Lowestoft by-election, losing by 1,920 votes to the Conservative candidate, Pierse Loftus.

Sorensen was elected as MP for Leyton West at the 1929 general election, defeating the sitting Conservative MP James Cassels by a majority of 2,153. When Labour split at the 1931 general election, Sir Wilfrid Sugden retook the seat for the Conservatives with a majority of nearly 10,000.

At the Labour Party Congress in Hastings in 1933, Sorensen emerged as a major critic of the harsh means by which the British rulers were striving to maintain their empire in India. 'The operation of Imperialism in India is in essence no different from the operations of Hitlerism,' he told the conference. 'We are appalled by what is happening to the Jews in Germany, but what has been happening in India is just as bad.' [1]

Sorensen narrowly regained the seat at the 1935 election, and represented the constituency until it was abolished in 1950. At the 1950 general election, he was returned to Parliament for the new Leyton constituency.

Sorensen was a committed pacifist. However, following the outbreak of World War Two, while expressing disappointment at the failure of the peace movement to prevent war, he urged his fellow pacifists "not to obstruct the war effort".[2]

A noted secularist, he became an Appointed Lecturer at the South Place Ethical Society in the 1960s.[3]

At the 1964 general election, he was re-elected for a seventh term in the House of Commons. Shortly afterwards, on 15 December 1964, he was created a life peer, as Baron Sorensen, of Leyton in the County of Essex.[4] He then served until 1968 as a Lord-in-Waiting in the House of Lords.

He had been offered the peerage to make a vacancy for the Foreign Secretary, Patrick Gordon Walker,[5] who had been defeated in his Smethwick constituency. However, the by-election in January 1965 was won by the Conservative Ronald Buxton.


  1. Quoted in the Yorkshire Post, October 7, 1933, p. 7
  2. Martin Ceadel, Pacifism in Britain, 1914-1945 : The Defining Of A Faith. Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1980. ISBN 0198218826 (pp. 298-99).
  3. MacKillop, I. D. (1986) The British Ethical Societies, Cambridge University Press, [online] Available from: (Accessed 13 May 2014).
  4. The London Gazette: no. 43519. p. 10823. 18 December 1964.
  5. British History Online: Parliamentary Representation in Leyton


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Cassels
Member of Parliament for Leyton West
Succeeded by
Sir Wilfrid Sugden
Preceded by
Sir Wilfrid Sugden
Member of Parliament for Leyton West
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Leyton
Succeeded by
Ronald Buxton
Political offices
Preceded by
New government
Succeeded by
The Baroness Serota
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