Labour MP and former NUM official

Born: May 16, 1948;

Died: December 4, 2017

JIMMY Hood, who has died aged 69, was a long-serving Scottish Labour MP and a former NUM official during the 1980s miners' strike, who, although not a natural rebel against his party, was always a thorn in the side of authority whenever it threatened his constituents’ interests.

A large man with a booming voice, Hood was difficult to ignore, and his main asset was an ability to cut through what he saw as the unnecessary complexities of an issue and get to the core of the matter. For 14 years, after being elected to the role somewhat against the odds, he proved to be an effective chairman of the European scrutiny select committee.

Throughout his career, Hood was an untiring champion of the cause of the little guy, and never appeared phased by the prospect of taking on ministers, however exalted, on issues that mattered to him. Indeed, if he was selected to put a question to the Prime Minister in the days of Margaret Thatcher or John Major, he seemed positively to relish the prospect. A cheeky grin would often accompany the punchline.

He was brought up in Lesmahagow, the son of a miner, and it was as an official in the National Union of Mineworkers that he was to make his name.

He worked in the nearby Coalburn colliery until it closed in 1968, when he went south to work. Having joined the NUM in 1964, he became an official in 1973 and, during the miners’ strike in 1984-85, he was chairman of the miners’ committee in Nottinghamshire, a centre of resistance throughout the dispute.

In November, 1985, he was selected to fight the Clydesdale seat for Labour after Dame Judith Hart announced she was standing down, and he won with a more-than-comfortable majority of more than 10,000 over the Tories. He would maintain impressive five-figure majorities until 2015 when he lost his seat in the extraordinary SNP gains which defeated all but one of Scotland's Labour MPs.

At Westminster, Hood was never destined for greatness, but he went about things in his own way, and was often described as being his own man. He shared an office with like-minded Labour MP Jimmy Wray, and set about the business of proving himself as an assiduous constituency MP while still finding time to enjoy other aspects of Westminster life.

He was on the left of the Labour Party, and certainly did not fit into the Tony Blair/Peter Mandelson New Labour mould. He enjoyed sitting with the troublemakers on the Labour benches such as Dennis Skinner and sponsored John Prescott's 1988 campaign against Roy Hattersley for the deputy leadership.

He took up a number of local issues, notably problems at the Carstairs State Hospital and, more broadly, campaigned vociferously for seat belts on school buses. On myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) Hood fought long and hard to have it recognised by the medical profession as a post-viral disease and was the founding chairman of the parliamentary group on ME.

There were other causes that he took up and fought, but not always with a successful outcome. On the ill-fated poll tax, he staged a one-man protest by refusing to pay it, giving in only when he received a summary warrant for non-payment, together with a 10 per cent surcharge. He also fought a lengthy campaign for George Beattie who, the MP believed, had been wrongly convicted of a murder in 1973.

In 1992 Hood, to the surprise of some observers, was elected chairman of the important Commons Select Committee on European Legislation, beating fellow Labour MP Nigel Spearing in a cross-party vote.

Hood, who had been a member of the committee since 1987, was particularly proud of this post in a committee which he saw as having a key role in the continuing development of the EU. Ministers who appeared before the committee knew that they would not be able to get away without thoroughly preparing beforehand.

Jimmy Hood comfortably retained his seat in both 1992 and 1997, increasing his majority in the latter general election to 13,809, with a 4.4 per cent swing from the SNP to Labour and might have expected to see how his career in the same seat. However, after boundary changes, he served as MP for Lanark and Hamilton East from 2005 to 2015, before losing his seat in 2015 to the SNP's Angela Crawley

Jimmy Hood's recreations included gardening, reading and writing. He married his wife, Marion, in 1967; she survives him along with one son and daughter.