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Iain Macleod

(1913—1970) politician


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(b. Yorkshire, 11 Nov. 1913; d. London, 20 July 1970) British; Chancellor of the Exchequer 1970 The son of a Scottish doctor, Macleod was educated at Fettes College, Edinburgh, and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He saw service during the Second World War in France and Norway, suffering a serious leg injury. He also suffered from a rare form of rheumatoid arthritis that limited his movements and often left him in considerable pain. He served in the Conservative Research Department from 1948 to 1950, before being elected as MP for Enfield West in February 1950. A brilliant debater, he caught Churchill's eye in March 1952 with a devastating attack on Aneurin Bevan in the House. Six weeks later he was appointed Minister for Health, a post he held for three years (1952 –5) before being promoted to Minister of Labour. In 1959 Macmillan appointed him Colonial Secretary and two years later made him chairman of the Conservative Party. A supporter of R. A. Butler, he refused to serve in the administration of Sir Alec Douglas-Home and took the post of editor of the Spectator, writing a damning critique of the ‘magic circle’ that produced Home as party leader. He was brought into the shadow Cabinet following the 1964 election defeat and in 1965 the new leader, Edward Heath, made him shadow Chancellor. Though not an economist, he worked hard to master his brief. Following the election of a Conservative government in June 1970 he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. A month later, after being unwell for some time, he collapsed and died of a heart attack in 11 Downing Street.

Regarded as having a brilliant mind—he was an outstanding bridge player—he was widely respected. He was also intellectually arrogant and took little trouble to disguise the fact. Describing himself as a ‘liberal Conservative’, he was a founder member of the One-Nation group of Conservative MPs. His liberal instincts, especially during his tenure of the Colonial Office, made him unpopular with the right wing of the Conservative Party, the Marquess of Salisbury once describing him as ‘too clever by half’. He was regarded as a pivotal figure in the new Heath government in 1970, his sudden death robbing the government of one of its most powerful and capable figures.

From A Dictionary of Political Biography in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Politics.


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