House of Commons of the United Kingdom
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster; the full name of the house is the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House; the Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 members known as Members of Parliament. Members are elected to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved; the House of Commons of England started to evolve in 14th centuries. It became the House of Commons of Great Britain after the political union with Scotland in 1707, assumed the title of "House of Commons of Great Britain and Ireland" after the political union with Ireland at the start of the 19th century; the "United Kingdom" referred to was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1800, became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922.
Accordingly, the House of Commons assumed its current title. Under the Parliament Act 1911, the Lords' power to reject legislation was reduced to a delaying power; the Government is responsible to the House of Commons and the Prime Minister stays in office only as long as she or he retains the confidence of a majority of the Commons. Although it does not formally elect the prime minister, the position of the parties in the House of Commons is of overriding importance. By convention, the prime minister is answerable to, must maintain the support of, the House of Commons. Thus, whenever the office of prime minister falls vacant, the Sovereign appoints the person who has the support of the House, or, most to command the support of the House—normally the leader of the largest party in the Commons, while the leader of the second-largest party becomes the Leader of the Opposition. Since 1963, by convention, the prime minister is always a member of the House of Commons, rather than the House of Lords.
The Commons may indicate its lack of support for the Government by rejecting a motion of confidence or by passing a motion of no confidence. Confidence and no confidence motions are phrased explicitly, for instance: "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government." Many other motions were until recent decades considered confidence issues though not explicitly phrased as such: in particular, important bills that were part of the Government's agenda. The annual Budget is still considered a matter of confidence; when a Government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, the prime minister is obliged either to resign, making way for another MP who can command confidence, or to request the monarch to dissolve Parliament, thereby precipitating a general election. Parliament sits for a maximum term of five years. Subject to that limit, the prime minister could choose the timing of the dissolution of parliament, with the permission of the Monarch. However, since the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, terms are now a fixed five years, an early general election is brought about by a two-thirds majority in favour of a motion for a dissolution, or by a vote of no confidence, not followed within fourteen days by a vote of confidence.
By this second mechanism, the UK's government can change its political composition without an intervening general election. Only four of the eight last Prime Ministers have attained office as the immediate result of a general election; the latter four were Jim Callaghan, John Major, Gordon Brown and the current Prime Minister Theresa May. In such circumstances there may not have been an internal party leadership election, as the new leader may be chosen by acclaim, having no electoral rival. A prime minister will resign after party defeat at an election if unable to lead a coalition, or obtain a confidence and supply arrangement, she or he may resign after a motion of no confidence or for health reasons. In such cases, the premiership goes to, it has become the practice to write the constitution of major UK political parties to provide a set way in which to appoint a new leader. Until 1965, the Conservative Party had no fixed mechanism for this, it fell to the Queen to appoint Harold Macmillan as the new prime minister, after taking the consensus of cabinet ministers.
By convention, ministers are members of the House of House of Lords. A handful have been appointed who were outside Parliament, but in most cases they entered Parliament in a by-election or by receiving a peerage. Exceptions include Peter Mandelson, appointed Secretary of State for Business and Regulatory Reform in October 2008 before his peerage. Since 1902, all prime ministers have been members of the Commons; the new session of Parliament was delayed to await the outcome of his by-election, which happened
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom. The governing party since 2010, it is the largest in the House of Commons, with 313 Members of Parliament, has 249 members of the House of Lords, 18 members of the European Parliament, 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 12 members of the Welsh Assembly, eight members of the London Assembly and 8,916 local councillors; the Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the Tory Party—the Conservatives' colloquial name is "Tories"—and was one of two dominant political parties in the nineteenth century, along with the Liberal Party. Under Benjamin Disraeli it played a preeminent role in politics at the height of the British Empire. In 1912, the Liberal Unionist Party merged with the party to form the Conservative and Unionist Party. In the 1920s, the Labour Party surpassed the Liberals as the Conservatives' main rivals. Conservative Prime Ministers — notably Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher — led governments for 57 years of the twentieth century.
Positioned on the centre-right of British politics, the Conservative Party is ideologically conservative. Different factions have dominated the party at different times, including One Nation Conservatives and liberal conservatives, while its views and policies have changed throughout its history; the party has adopted liberal economic policies—favouring free market economics, limiting state regulation, pursuing privatisation—although in the past has supported protectionism. The party is British unionist, opposing both Irish reunification and Welsh and Scottish independence, supported the maintenance of the British Empire; the party includes those with differing views on the European Union, with Eurosceptic and pro-European wings. In foreign policy, it is for a strong national defence; the Conservatives are a member of the International Democrat Union and the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe and sit with the European Conservatives and Reformists parliamentary group. The Scottish, Northern Irish and Gibraltan branches of the party are semi-autonomous.
Its support base consists of middle-class voters in rural areas of England, its domination of British politics throughout the twentieth century has led to it being referred to as one of the most successful political parties in the Western world. The Conservative Party was founded in the 1830s. However, some writers trace its origins to the reign of Charles II in the 1670s Exclusion Crisis. Other historians point to a faction, rooted in the 18th century Whig Party, that coalesced around William Pitt the Younger in the 1780s, they were known as "Independent Whigs", "Friends of Mr Pitt", or "Pittites" and never used terms such as "Tory" or "Conservative". Pitt died in 1806. From about 1812 on the name "Tory" was used for a new party that, according to historian Robert Blake, "are the ancestors of Conservatism". Blake adds that Pitt's successors after 1812 "were not in any sense standard-bearer's of true Toryism"; the term "Conservative" was suggested as a title for the party by a magazine article by J. Wilson Croker in the Quarterly Review in 1830.
The name caught on and was adopted under the aegis of Sir Robert Peel around 1834. Peel is acknowledged as the founder of the Conservative Party, which he created with the announcement of the Tamworth Manifesto; the term "Conservative Party" rather than Tory was the dominant usage by 1845. The widening of the electoral franchise in the nineteenth century forced the Conservative Party to popularise its approach under Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby and Benjamin Disraeli, who carried through their own expansion of the franchise with the Reform Act of 1867. In 1886, the party formed an alliance with Spencer Compton Cavendish, Lord Hartington and Joseph Chamberlain's new Liberal Unionist Party and, under the statesmen Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Lord Salisbury and Arthur Balfour, held power for all but three of the following twenty years before suffering a heavy defeat in 1906 when it split over the issue of free trade. Young Winston Churchill denounced Chamberlain's attack on free trade, helped organize the opposition inside the Unionist/Conservative Party.
Balfour, as party leader, followed Chamberlain's policy introduced protectionist legislation. The high tariff element called itself "Tariff Reformers" and in a major speech in Manchester on May 13, 1904, Churchill warned their takeover of the Unionist/Conservative party would permanently brand it as: A party of great vested interests, banded together in a formidable confederation. Two weeks Churchill crossed the floor and formally joined the Liberal Party. )He rejoined the Conservatives in 1925.) In December, Balfour lost control of his party, as the defections multiplied. He was replaced by Liberal Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman who called an election in January 1906, which produced a massive Liberal victory with a gain of 214 seats. Liberal Prime Minister H. H. Asquith enacted a great deal of reform legislation, but the Unionists worked hard at grassroots organizing. Two general elections were held in one in January and one in December; the two main parties were now dead equal in seats.
The Unionists had more popular votes but the Liberals kept control with a coalition with the Irish Parliamentary Party. In 1912, the Liberal Unionis
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom, described as an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists. The party's platform emphasises greater state intervention, social justice and strengthening workers' rights; the Labour Party was founded in 1900, having grown out of the trade union movement and socialist parties of the nineteenth century. It overtook the Liberal Party to become the main opposition to the Conservative Party in the early 1920s, forming two minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in the 1920s and early 1930s. Labour served in the wartime coalition of 1940-1945, after which Clement Attlee's Labour government established the National Health Service and expanded the welfare state from 1945 to 1951. Under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, Labour again governed from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1979. In the 1990s Tony Blair took Labour closer to the centre as part of his "New Labour" project, which governed the UK under Blair and Gordon Brown from 1997 to 2010.
After Corbyn took over in 2015, the party has moved leftward. Labour is the Official Opposition in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, having won the second-largest number of seats in the 2017 general election; the Labour Party is the largest party in the Welsh Assembly, forming the main party in the current Welsh government. The party is the third largest in the Scottish Parliament. Labour is a member of the Party of European Socialists and Progressive Alliance, holds observer status in the Socialist International, sits with the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament; the party includes semi-autonomous Scottish and Welsh branches and supports the Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland. As of 2017, Labour had the largest membership of any party in Western Europe; the Labour Party originated in the late 19th century, meeting the demand for a new political party to represent the interests and needs of the urban working class, a demographic which had increased in number, many of whom only gained suffrage with the passage of the Representation of the People Act 1884.
Some members of the trades union movement became interested in moving into the political field, after further extensions of the voting franchise in 1867 and 1885, the Liberal Party endorsed some trade-union sponsored candidates. The first Lib–Lab candidate to stand was George Odger in the Southwark by-election of 1870. In addition, several small socialist groups had formed around this time, with the intention of linking the movement to political policies. Among these were the Independent Labour Party, the intellectual and middle-class Fabian Society, the Marxist Social Democratic Federation and the Scottish Labour Party. At the 1895 general election, the Independent Labour Party put up 28 candidates but won only 44,325 votes. Keir Hardie, the leader of the party, believed that to obtain success in parliamentary elections, it would be necessary to join with other left-wing groups. Hardie's roots as a lay preacher contributed to an ethos in the party which led to the comment by 1950s General Secretary Morgan Phillips that "Socialism in Britain owed more to Methodism than Marx".
In 1899, a Doncaster member of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, Thomas R. Steels, proposed in his union branch that the Trade Union Congress call a special conference to bring together all left-wing organisations and form them into a single body that would sponsor Parliamentary candidates; the motion was passed at all stages by the TUC, the proposed conference was held at the Memorial Hall on Farringdon Street on 26 and 27 February 1900. The meeting was attended by a broad spectrum of working-class and left-wing organisations—trades unions represented about one third of the membership of the TUC delegates. After a debate, the 129 delegates passed Hardie's motion to establish "a distinct Labour group in Parliament, who shall have their own whips, agree upon their policy, which must embrace a readiness to cooperate with any party which for the time being may be engaged in promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour." This created an association called the Labour Representation Committee, meant to co-ordinate attempts to support MPs sponsored by trade unions and represent the working-class population.
It had no single leader, in the absence of one, the Independent Labour Party nominee Ramsay MacDonald was elected as Secretary. He had the difficult task of keeping the various strands of opinions in the LRC united; the October 1900 "Khaki election" came too soon for the new party to campaign effectively. Only 15 candidatures were sponsored. Support for the LRC was boosted by the 1901 Taff Vale Case, a dispute between strikers and a railway company that ended with the union being ordered to pay £23,000 damages for a strike; the judgement made strikes illegal since employers could recoup the cost of lost business from the unions. The apparent acquiescence of the Conservative Government of Arthur Balfour to industrial and business interests intensified support for the LRC against a government that appeared to have little concern for the industrial proletariat and its problems. In the 1906 election, the LRC won 29 seats—helped by a secret 1903 pact between Ramsay MacDonald and Liberal Chief Whip Herbert Gladstone that aimed to avoid splitting the opposition vote between Labour and Liberal candidates in the interest of removing the Conservatives from office.
In their first meeting after the election the group's Members of Parliament decided to adop
Sir Gerald Bernard Kaufman was a British Labour politician who served as a Member of Parliament from 1970 until his death in 2017, first for Manchester Ardwick and for Manchester Gorton. He was a member of the Shadow Cabinet in the 1980s. Knighted in 2004, he became Father of the House in 2015 and was the oldest sitting MP of the UK Parliament at the time of his death, he was known for his forthright views, but rarely voted against the Labour Party whip, thus his two rebellions carried greater weight. Kaufman was a critic of the state of Israel and came under criticism himself during the 2009 parliamentary expenses scandal. Kaufman was born in the youngest of seven children of Louis and Jane Kaufman, his parents were both Polish Jews. He was educated at Leeds Grammar School, graduated with a degree in philosophy and economics from the University of Oxford. During his time there, he was Secretary of the University Labour Club, where he prevented Rupert Murdoch from standing for office because he broke the Society's rule against canvassing.
He was assistant general secretary of the Fabian Society, a leader writer on the Daily Mirror and a journalist on the New Statesman. He was Parliamentary Press Liaison Officer for the Labour Party and became a member of Prime Minister Harold Wilson's informal "kitchen cabinet". In the 1955 general election Kaufman had unsuccessfully contested the Conservative seat of Bromley, in the 1959 general election, Gillingham, he became a writer, contributing to BBC Television's satirical television comedy programme That Was The Week That Was in 1962 and 1963, where he was most remembered for the "silent men of Westminster" sketch. He appeared as a guest on its successor, Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life. Kaufman was elected MP for Manchester Ardwick at the 1970 general election, he remained MP for Gorton until his death, notwithstanding considerable demographic changes that resulted in Muslim voters becoming an influential segment of the electorate. He was a junior minister throughout Labour's time in power from 1974 to 1979, first in the Department for the Environment under Anthony Crosland in the Department of Industry under Eric Varley.
He was made a member of the Privy Council in 1978. After his re-election to the Commons in 2015, just before his 85th birthday, he became the Father of the House following the retirement of Sir Peter Tapsell. In opposition, Kaufman was the Shadow Environment Secretary, Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Foreign Secretary, he dubbed the Labour Party's left-wing 1983 election manifesto "the longest suicide note in history". In 1992 he went to the back benches and became Chair of what was the National Heritage Select Committee, he chaired the Select Committee for Culture and Sport the Select Committee on National Heritage, was a member of the Parliamentary Committee of the Parliamentary Labour Party, of the Labour Party National Executive Committee, of the Royal Commission on House of Lords Reform. In 1997, Kaufman criticised the Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House Mary Allen over alleged financial misconduct, which contributed to her tendering her resignation. Kaufman only voted against the Labour whip twice: the first time on the provision in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to introduce an extra requirement in the process for private prosecutors seeking to obtain an arrest warrant for "universal jurisdiction" offences such as war crimes and crimes against humanity.
He voted with the government on the 2003 invasion of Iraq saying in Parliament "Even though all our hearts are heavy, I have no doubt that it is right to vote with the Government tonight". Kaufman was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2004 Birthday Honours for services to Parliament. On 25 May 2010, during the Queen's Speech debate, Kaufman accused the Liberal Democrat candidate for his constituency during the 2010 general election, Qassim Afzal, of running "an anti-Semitic, anti-Semitic, election campaign" in Manchester Gorton. Kaufman was implicated in the 2009 expenses scandal, where a number of British MPs made excessive expense claims, misusing their permitted allowances and expense accounts. Kaufman was found to have submitted expense claims that included £8,865 for a 40-inch LCD television, £1,851 for an antique rug imported from New York, £225 for a rollerball pen, he blamed his self-diagnosed obsessive compulsive disorder for his claims, said that his condition led him to purchase a pair of Waterford Crystal grapefruit bowls on his parliamentary expenses.
Between 2005 and 2007, Kaufman claimed £28,834 for home improvements. He was subsequently summoned to the Parliamentary Fees Office to explain these claims, in the end was reimbursed £15,329, he was challenged over regular claims for "odd jobs", which he submitted without receipts at a rate of £245 per month £5 below the limit for unreceipted expenses, to which he replied by asking why these expenses were being queried. Kaufman wrote many articles; some are political: How to be a Minister is an irreverent look at the difficulties faced by ministers trying to control the civil service. Some are cultural: Meet Me, he contributed a chapter about John Hodge, the Labour MP for Manchester Gor
Sir Edward Richard George Heath known as Ted Heath, was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1974 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1965 to 1975. He was a strong supporter of the European Communities, after winning the decisive vote in the House of Commons by 336 to 244, he led the negotiations that culminated in Britain's entry into the EC on 1 January 1973, it was, says biographer John Campbell, "Heath's finest hour". Although he planned to be an innovator as Prime Minister, his government foundered on economic difficulties, including high inflation and major strikes, he became an embittered critic of Margaret Thatcher. Heath's lower middle-class origins were quite unusual for a Tory leader, he was a leader in student politics at the University of Oxford and served as an officer in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War. He worked in the Civil Service, but resigned in order to stand for Parliament, was elected for Bexley in the 1950 general election.
He was the Chief Whip from 1955 to 1959. Having entered the Cabinet as Minister of Labour in 1959, he was promoted to Lord Privy Seal and became President of the Board of Trade. Heath was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 1965. Heath became Prime Minister after winning the 1970 general election. In 1971 he oversaw the decimalisation of British coinage, in 1972 he reformed Britain's system of local government, reducing the number of local authorities and creating a number of new metropolitan counties. Most he took Britain into the European Economic Community in 1973. Heath's premiership coincided with the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, with the suspension of the Stormont Parliament and the imposition of direct British rule. Unofficial talks with Provisional Irish Republican Army delegates were unsuccessful, as was the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973, which led the MPs of the Ulster Unionist Party to withdraw from the Conservative whip. Heath tried to curb the trade unions with the Industrial Relations Act 1971, hoped to deregulate the economy and make a transfer from direct to indirect taxation.
Rising unemployment in 1972 led him to reflate the economy. Two miners' strikes, at the start of 1974, damaged the government. Heath called an election for February 1974 to obtain a mandate to face down the miners' wage demands, but this instead resulted in a hung parliament in which the Labour Party, despite gaining fewer votes, had four more seats than the Conservatives. Heath resigned as Prime Minister after trying in vain to form a coalition with the Liberal Party. Despite losing a second general election in October that year, he vowed to continue as party leader. In February 1975, Margaret Thatcher defeated him to win the leadership. Returning to the backbenches, Heath was vocally critical of Thatcherism, he remained a backbench MP until retiring at the 2001 election, serving as the Father of the House for his last nine years in Parliament. Outside politics, Heath was a talented musician, he died in 2005, aged 89. He is one of only four British prime ministers never to have married. Edward Heath was born at 54 Albion Road, Kent on 9 July 1916, the son of William George Heath, a carpenter who built air frames for Vickers during the First World War, was subsequently employed as a builder and Edith Anne Heath, a maid.
His father was a successful small businessman after taking over a building and decorating firm. Heath's paternal grandfather had run a small dairy business, when that failed worked as a porter at Broadstairs Station on the Southern Railway. Heath was known as "Teddy" as a young man, he was educated at Chatham House Grammar School in Ramsgate, in 1935 with the aid of a county scholarship he went up to study at Balliol College, Oxford. In years, Heath's peculiar accent, with its "strangulated" vowel sounds, combined with his non-Standard pronunciation of "l" as "w" and "out" as "eout", was satirised by Monty Python in the audio sketch "Teach Yourself Heath" (released on a 7" flexi-disc single included with initial copies of their 1972 LP Monty Python's Previous Record. Heath's biographer John Campbell speculates that his speech, unlike that of his father and younger brother, who both spoke with Kent accents, must have undergone "drastic alteration on encountering Oxford", although retaining elements of Kent speech.
A talented musician, Heath won the college's organ scholarship in his first term which enabled him to stay at the university for a fourth year. While at university Heath became active in Conservative politics. On the key political issue of the day, foreign policy, he opposed the Conservative-dominated government of the day more openly, his first Paper Speech at the Oxford Union, in Michaelmas term 1936, was in opposition to the appeasement of Germany by returning her colonies, confiscated during the First World War. In June 1937 he was elected President of the Oxford University Conservative Association as a pro-Spanish Republic candidate, in opposition to the pro-Franco John Stokes. In 1937–38 he was
John Jeremy Thorpe was a British politician who served as Liberal Member of Parliament for North Devon from 1959 to 1979, as leader of the Liberal Party between 1967 and 1976. In May 1979 he was tried at the Old Bailey on charges of conspiracy and incitement to murder, arising from an earlier relationship with Norman Scott, a former model. Thorpe was acquitted on all charges, but the case, the furore surrounding it, ended his political career. Thorpe was the son and grandson of Conservative MPs, but decided to align with the small and ailing Liberal Party. After reading law at Oxford University he became one of the Liberals' brightest stars in the 1950s, he entered Parliament at the age of 30 made his mark, was elected party leader in 1967. After an uncertain start during which the party lost ground, Thorpe capitalised on the growing unpopularity of the Conservative and Labour parties to lead the Liberals through a period of notable electoral success; this culminated in the general election of February 1974.
Under the first-past-the-post electoral system this gave them only 14 seats, but in a hung parliament, no party having an overall majority, Thorpe was in a strong position. He was offered a cabinet post by the Conservative prime minister, Edward Heath, if he would bring the Liberals into a coalition, his price for such a deal, reform of the electoral system, was rejected by Heath, who resigned in favour of a minority Labour government. The February 1974 election was the high-water mark of Thorpe's career. Thereafter his and his party's fortunes declined from late 1975 when rumours of his involvement in a plot to murder Norman Scott began to multiply. Thorpe resigned the leadership in May 1976; when the matter came to court three years Thorpe chose not to give evidence to avoid being cross-examined by counsel for the prosecution. This left. From the mid-1980s he was disabled by Parkinson's disease. During his long retirement he recovered the affections of his party, by the time of his death was honoured by a generation of leaders, who drew attention to his record as an internationalist, a supporter of human rights, an opponent of apartheid.
Thorpe was born in South Kensington, London, on 29 April 1929. His father was John Henry Thorpe, a lawyer and politician, the Conservative MP for Manchester Rusholme between 1919 and 1923, his mother, Ursula Norton-Griffiths, was the daughter of another Conservative MP, Sir John Norton-Griffiths known as "Empire Jack" because of his passionate imperialism. The Thorpe family claimed kinship with distant forebears carrying the name, including Sir Robert Thorpe, Lord Chancellor in 1372, Thomas Thorpe, Speaker of the House of Commons in 1453–54. However, there is no direct evidence of any link between these figures and Jeremy Thorpe's own family; the more recent Thorpe ancestors were Irish, stemming from the elder of two brothers, according to family tradition soldiers under Cromwell during the combat in Ireland. Both were rewarded with land, the younger branch—of County Carlow—prospering in Dublin as High Sheriffs and Lord Mayors, but the elder losing its land and becoming tenant farmers and tradesmen.
Jeremy Thorpe's great-grandfather, William Thorpe, was a Dublin policeman who, having been a labourer and having joined the police as a constable, rose to the rank of superintendent. One of his many sons, John Thorpe, became an Anglican priest and served as Archdeacon of Macclesfield from 1922 to 1932; the archdeacon's marriage in 1884 to a daughter of the prosperous Anglo-Irish Aylmer family brought considerable wealth to the Thorpes, as did his elder daughter Olive's marriage into the influential Christie-Miller family of Cheshire. Both John Henry and Jeremy Thorpe would benefit from this connection, as the Christie-Millers paid the costs of their education. Jeremy was his parents' third child, following two sisters, his upbringing was privileged and protected, under the care of nannies and nursemaids until, in 1935, he began attending Wagner's day school in Queen's Gate. He became a proficient violinist, performed at school concerts. Although John Henry Thorpe was no longer in parliament, he had maintained many of his political contacts and friendships, leading politicians were entertained at the Thorpe home.
Among the strongest of these friendships was that with the Lloyd George family—Ursula Thorpe was a close friend of the former Liberal prime minister's daughter, who became Jeremy's godmother. The former prime minister David Lloyd George, an occasional visitor, became Jeremy's political hero and role model, helped form his ambitions for a political career in the Liberal Party. In January 1938 Jeremy went to Cothill House, a school in Oxfordshire that prepared boys for entry to Eton. By summer 1939 war looked and the Thorpe family moved from London to the Surrey village of Limpsfield where Jeremy attended a local school. War began in September 1939. In September that year Jeremy began at The Rectory School in Connecticut, he remained there for three happy years. In 1943 it was thought safe for the children to return to England, John Henry used his political connections to secure for Jeremy a passage in the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Phoebe. Thorpe started at Eton in September 1943, he proved an indifferent scholar, he lacked sporting ap
Jennie Lee, Baroness Lee of Asheridge
Janet Lee, Baroness Lee of Asheridge, PC LLD HonFRA, known as Jennie Lee, was a Scottish politician. She was a Labour Member of Parliament from a by-election in 1929 until 1931 and from 1945 to 1970; as Minister for the Arts in Harold Wilson's government of 1964–1970, she played a leading role in the foundation of the Open University working directly with Harold Wilson to establish the principle of open access: Enrolment as a student of the University should be open to everyone … irrespective of educational qualifications, no formal entrance requirement should be imposed. She was married to the Welsh Labour politician Aneurin Bevan from 1934 until his death in 1960. Born in Lochgelly, in Fife, to Euphemia Grieg and James Lee, a miner who held the post of fire and safety officer, she had Tommy. She inherited her father's socialist inclinations, like him joined the Scottish Independent Labour Party, her grandfather Michael Lee, born in 1850 to Irish Catholic parents, was a friend of Keir Hardie, a disputes secretary of the miners' union and founder of the Fifeshire ILP federation.
She joined the Labour Party, served as an MP from 1929 to 1931 and from 1945 to 1970. Lee was dux of the school in her final year; the Carnegie Trust, Fife County Council and the Fife Education Authority agreed to pay her university fees and she attended the University of Edinburgh as a student teacher. She won a bursary to study law. At university she joined the Labour Club, the Edinburgh University Women's Union and the editorial board of the student newspaper. One of her first campaigns was to elect Bertrand Russell as Rector of the University. After graduating with a MA, a LLB and a teaching certificate, she worked as a teacher in Cowdenbeath. Lee was adopted as the ILP candidate for the North Lanarkshire constituency, which she won at a 1929 by-election, becoming the youngest member of the House of Commons. At the time of the by-election, women under the age of 30 were not yet able to vote, she was re-elected at the subsequent 1929 general election. In Westminster she came into conflict with the Labour Party's leadership in the commons.
She insisted on being sponsored by Robert Smillie and her old friend James Maxton to be introduced to the Commons, rather than by the leadership's preferred choice of sponsors. Lee's first speech was an attack on the budget proposals of Winston Churchill that met with his approval, with him offering his congratulations after their exchange in the Commons. Lee forged a parliamentary reputation as a left-winger, allying herself to Maxton and the other ILP members, she was opposed to Ramsay MacDonald's decision to form a coalition National Government, in the 1931 general election lost her seat in parliament to Unionist candidate William Anstruther-Gray. In her private life at the time she had formed a close relationship with fellow Labour MP Edward Frank Wise, a married man who considered divorcing his wife for Lee, but who did not do so in the end. Wise died in 1933 and the following year Lee married the left-wing Welsh Labour MP Aneurin Bevan, with whom she remained until his death in 1960, her biography suggests that she to some extent suppressed her own career after marriage and that'Jennie's suppression of her own career was the more remarkable because as a woman in politics she had always laid claim to a'male' life, public and unencumbered by family responsibilities'.
She had no history in the women's movement and did not align herself with the separate women's branches within the Labour Party, believing that equality for women would follow from the introduction of true socialism. Nonetheless she practised feminism'of a sort' and was known to walk out of dinner parties if it was expected that women were to withdraw to another room when the port was circulated. Despite being out of the Commons Lee remained active politically, trying to secure British support for the Spanish Popular Front government under threat from Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War, she remained active inside the ILP and took their side in their split from the Labour Party, a decision that did not meet with her husband's approval. She attempted re-election in North Lanarkshire at the 1935 general election, coming second behind Anstruther-Gray but ahead of the Labour Party's candidate, she was unsuccessful in seeking re-election as an "Independent Labour" candidate in a 1943 by-election at Bristol Central, being defeated by the Conservative Lady Apsley and opposed by the ILP.
She worked as a journalist for the Daily Mirror. She returned to the Labour Party from the ILP, at the 1945 general election she was once again elected to the Commons, this time to represent the Cannock constituency in Staffordshire, she remained a convinced left-winger, this brought her sometimes into opposition with her husband, with whom she agreed politically. Lee was critical of Bevan for his support of the UK acquiring a nuclear deterrent, something she did not support, she was appointed as the first Minister for the Arts in Harold Wilson's government of 1964, played a key role in the formation of the Open University, an act described by Wilson as the greatest of his time in government. The Open University was based on the idea of a'University of the Air', it was intended as a correspondence university reaching out to those, denied the opportunity to study. Lee produced a White Paper in 1966 outlining university plans, which would deliver courses by correspondence and broadcasting as