Saturday, 30 November 2013

Another might-have-been

Sir Cyril Townsend died on the 20th November. He was Conservative MP for Bexleyheath from 1974 to 1997. I hadn't realised quite how liberal he was until I read John Barnes' obituary in the Independent today. He would clearly have been at home in Heath's Conservative party (and if he had been born earlier would have made a good minister under Macmillan) but for most of his parliamentary career was at odds with the Thatcher administration. Barnes writes:
In 1990 he gave his support to Michael Heseltine’s candidature for the leadership. Although far happier with John Major’s leadership than Thatcher’s, he was dismayed at the growth of euroscepticism and stood down from Parliament in 1997. Eventually his continued support of the European cause led him to join the Liberal Democrats in 2006.
If Thatcher had remained as party leader instead of Major would Townsend have moved to the Liberal Democrats earlier, and what effect would that have had on the 1992 general election?

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