Not a scholar, perhaps, but definitely a gentleman

Posted by Tory Historian Sunday, July 22, 2007

The BBC has its uses. Not many, admittedly, but it is useful to find out that July 22 is the anniversary of Sir Alec Douglas-Home's resignation from the Conservative Party leadership.

It seems many MPs were surprised by his decision, taken during a week-end in Scotland, and blamed the relentless campaign conducted against him by the media. Hmmm. Sounds vaguely familiar.

Sir Alec was lambasted for being a toff, for having mild manners, for seeming out of date, for being an idiot. The first two were certainly true. What the media could not explain was why a toff with mild manners who is completely out of date and is also an idiot nearly managed to swing the election in the Conservatives' favour, after a number of unpleasant scandals, and as the next Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, liked to say, "thirteen years of Tory misrule and incompetence".

Sir Alec's successor was to be chosen by an electoral procedure, for the first time in the Party's history, a procedure put into place by him. The two main candidates were Reginald Maudling and Edward Heath. When asked, Sir Alec refused to offer support to either and explained that he would be happy to serve the Party in any capacity under any ruler. I don't recall his successor making such promises.


  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. "The two main candidates were Reginald Maudling and Edward Heath": would it have been better if lazy, clever, somewhat crooked Reggie had won?

  3. Probably not. In what way do you think would Maudling have done better? He was imbued with the same ideas.

  4. Anonymous Says:
  5. It's unknowable, but might a better man than Heath - if Maudling was one, of course - have declined to sign up to the Common Market after they pulled the stunt of changing the terms of the fishing deal? Would Maudling even have carried negotiations that far? Or entered them?

  6. Doubtful about Maudling. Yes, he would have signed up but possibly not had the perseverance to carry on the negotiations. The fishing deal terms were not changed. Regulations 2141/70, the basis of the Common Fisheries Policy was passed before the negotiations were started. That was essential in order to make it part of the acquis communautaire

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