TEDDY Taylor had been the colourful MP for Glasgow Cathcart for three years by the time he embarked on a potentially difficult task of trying to find Conservative voters in the Gorbals.

It was October 1967, and he went out early in the morning – in the pouring rain, too – with Fred Craig, Glasgow’s first official Conservative municipal candidate. Herald columnist Samuel Hunter, who accompanied them, described Taylor as “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed”.

Taylor himself declared: “This is the real grassroots of politics”. “They are here, all right”. Craig said of Tory voters in the area. “There are Tories up every close. We only have to find them”.

Their very first encounter went well. Mrs Christina McCulloch opened her door. “Come away in”, she said cheerily. “Oh, Mr Taylor”, she added. “I know folk in Cathcart who know you”.

Nearby, in Oxford Street, Hunter noted, there were 18 stairs between floors, and four floors up each close. “Taylor bounded up them on the soles of his shoes, like Harold [Wilson] boarding an aircraft when the television cameras are on him”.

“The ones who say ‘Oh, aye’, you get the impression are perhaps interested”, Taylor said. “Of course, there are different ways to say ‘Oh, aye”. Indeed there were: it could indicate scepticism, or acquiescence, or outright rejection.

After a couple of hours, Taylor and Craig thought they had detected 30 more Gorbals Tories. Taylor ran back up a stair to a door that had been slow to open. “I think that one’s for us”, he reported back. “He hasn’t yet come to a final decision but he’s giving serious consideration to the argument”.

Oh, aye, wrote Hunter.

Taylor represented Cathcart until 1979; when he lost his seat to Labour’s John Maxton that May, it made this paper’s front page. A consolatory spray of blue irises and white carnations arrived on his doorstep, courtesy of a well-wisher.

Though disappointed, Taylor, who had been Shadow Scottish Secretary until his defeat, reflected that he had bounced back from two very hard knocks in the last 10 years; he had collapsed in the Commons, and doctors had had to save his life; and he had quit as a Scottish Under-Secretary when Ted Heath’s government decided to join the EEC.

In 1980 Taylor became MP for Southend East. He represented the seat, later redrawn as Rochford and Southend East, until 2005. When he died in September 2017, aged 80, his obituaries reflected on his long political career – he had been a Herald journalist before becoming a councillor – and on his habit of rebellion. He was “the nearly man of Scottish politics”; noted the Herald, while the Guardian touched on his passionate and lifelong opposition to the EU.

Read more: Herald Diary