‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Anniversary of Archie Sinclair becoming Liberal Leader

Today is the anniversary of Archie Sinclair becoming leader of the Liberal Party in 1935.

Sinclair fought alongside Winston Churchill in the First World War and in 1922 became MP for Caithness and Sutherland – the most northerly seat in mainland Scotland.
(His grandson, John Thurso, is today the Liberal Democrat MP for the same constituency.)

Archie Sinclair served briefly as Secretary of State for Scotland before the Liberals left the National Government in 1932.

At the 1935 general election Herbert Samuel lost his seat and Sinclair succeeded him as Liberal Party leader. Sinclair supported Churchill’s warnings about appeasement in the late 1930s.

When Churchill formed his wartime coalition in 1940, Sinclair was appointed Secretary of State for Air. He served in this post to the end of the war.

Although Sinclair led the party for 10 years, he only fought one general election as leader, in 1945. He lost his own seat, coming third, but only 61 votes behind the winner. He was succeeded as party leader by Clement Davies.

Holding down a major post in a coalition government, managing the party and defending his own constituency in the far north of Scotland was just one challenge too many for Sinclair. Nick Clegg must be relieved that his own constituency is in Sheffield.

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