Joseph Grimond

(1913—1993) politician

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(b. St Andrews, 29 July 1913; d. Kirkwall, Orkney, 24 Oct. 1993)

British; leader of the Liberal Party 1956–67; life peer 1983 Grimond was born in St Andrews in Scotland and educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. After qualifying as a barrister, and service in the war, he was elected Liberal MP for the remote islands of Orkney and Shetland in Scotland in 1950. At the time he was one of only nine Liberal MPs and the party seemed to be on its deathbed. He was elected party leader in 1957. His philosophy was that the Liberals should ‘get on or get out’. As leader he gave the party a radical edge. It advocated British membership of the European Economic Community, constitutional reform, and co-partnership in industry, and rejected British possession of nuclear weapons. Grimond thought that the only future for the Liberals was to merge with moderates in the Labour and Conservative parties to form a new radical centre party. Although the Liberal party doubled its vote in the 1964 general election the first-past-the-post electoral system meant that it elected only six MPs. There was some informal co-operation with the Labour government elected in 1964 under Harold Wilson, but a large Labour victory in 1966 ended Grimond's ambitions. He was disappointed that support for the party fell back and resigned as leader in 1967. Only with the party's alliance with the Social Democrats in the early 1980s did his hopes appear to be fulfilled.

Subjects: British History.

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