Iain Macleod

Iain Macleod

Infobox Chancellor
name=The Rt. Hon. Iain Macleod
order=Chancellor of the Exchequer
term_start =20 June 1970
term_end =20 July 1970
primeminister =Edward Heath
predecessor =Roy Jenkins
successor =Anthony Barber
birth_date = birth date|1913|11|11|df=y
birth_place = Skipton, Yorkshire
death_date =death date and age|1970|7|20|1913|11|11|df=y
death_place =
party=Conservative Party

Iain Norman Macleod (11 November 1913 – 20 July 1970) was a British Conservative Party politician and government minister.

Early life

Iain Macleod was born at Skipton, Yorkshire on 11 November 1913. His parents were from the Western Isles of Scotland and he grew up with strong personal and cultural ties to Scotland. He was briefly educated at Ermysted's Grammar School in Skipton and then at Fettes College in Edinburgh and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, receiving a Lower Second in History.

He was one of the great British bridge players, won the "Gold Cup" in 1937 and authored a book, "Bridge is an Easy Game" which contains a description of the Acol bidding system. A bridge connection earned him a job offer with a printing company, but by the late 1930s he was living the life of a playboy off his bridge earnings; he only gave up playing seriously (and relying on his bridge earnings) in the early 1950s when his developing political career became his priority.

He was commissioned into the Duke of Wellington's Regiment and fought briefly in France in 1940, suffering a serious war wound to the thigh which, particularly when combined with a later spinal condition (ankylosing spondylitis), was to leave him with pain and a limp for the rest of his life. Following his recovery from injury (and attendance at staff college), he landed in France on D-Day as Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General (DAQMG) of the 50th Northumbrian Division and continued to serve in France until November 1944. He ended the war as a Major.

He unsuccessfully contested a Scottish Western Isles constituency at the 1945 general election (there was no Conservative Party in the seat, so his father appointed himself Association Chairman). In 1946, he joined the Conservative Parliamentary Secretariat, subsequently merged into the Conservative Research Department. Here he became friends with Enoch Powell (the two would fall out over Powell's 1968 Rivers of Blood speech; Macleod did not speak to Powell ever again after the speech).

Political career

After the General Election of February 1950 he represented the parliamentary constituency of Enfield, West. Though not initially appointed to ministerial office, a brilliant Commons performance in March 1952 against Aneurin Bevan in a debate on health caught Churchill's attention, and six weeks later, on 7 May, Macleod was appointed Minister of Health. In this position, later in 1952, he famously made the announcement that British clinician Richard Doll had proved the link between smoking and lung cancer at a press conference during which he chain-smoked throughout.

In the Eden and Macmillan governments he served first as Minister of Labour and National Service (1957-9) and then as Secretary of State for the Colonies (1959-61). Here he presided over considerable decolonisation, seeing Nigeria, British Somaliland, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Kuwait and British Cameroon become independent, and in Kenya ending the state of emergency and freeing Kenyatta. He made a tour of Sub-Saharan Africa in 1960. His work in promoting decolonisation, though it enjoyed Macmillan's personal support, was resisted by the Conservative Right; his role in negotiations over the future of Rhodesia attracted the damaging and much-remembered description of Macleod by the party grandee, the Marquess of Sailsbury, as "too clever by half".

Not helping his acceptance by the more right-wing elements of his own party at the time, Macleod was against the death penalty and supported legalisation of abortion and homosexuality. Indicative of his centrist leanings, Macleod established good personal relations with several of his Labour opposite numbers, including both Aneurin Bevan Fact|date=January 2008 and James Callaghan, even though he clashed with Callaghan numerous times at the dispatch box while serving as Shadow Chancellor in the 1960s (by contrast, he did not get on with Callaghan's successor, Roy Jenkins, after the November 1967 government reshuffle, considering him vain and arrogant).

In 1961 he became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, leader of the House of Commons, and chairman of the Conservative Party organization. When Harold Macmillan resigned as Prime Minister in 1963, Macleod, despite his ability, was not considered a serious prospect for the leadership. Having lent his support to Rab Butler, and strongly opposed the successful candidacy of the Earl of Home (later Sir Alec Douglas-Home), Macleod (along with Enoch Powell) refused to serve under the latter as Prime Minister (though he did return to the shadow cabinet under Home after the 1964 election). Macleod did not contest the first ever party leadership election in 1965, but backed Edward Heath.

The coinage of the word "stagflation" is attributed to him. Speaking in the House of Commons on November 17, 1965, he said: "We now have the worst of both worlds — not just inflation on the one side or stagnation on the other, but both of them together. We have a sort of 'stagflation' situation. And history, in modern terms, is indeed being made." [House of Commons’ Official Report (also known as "Hansard"), 17 November 1965, page 1,165.] Dubious|date=March 2008

While out of office in the mid-1960s he served as editor of "The Spectator", where he caused further controversy by publishing in early 1964 a candid account of the 1963 party leadership contest.

On 20 June 1970, two days after the Conservative Party's election victory, Macleod was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer by Prime Minister Edward Heath. However, on 7 July 1970 he was rushed to hospital with appendicitis. He was discharged 11 days later but at 10.30pm on 20 July 1970, while in 11 Downing Street, Iain Macleod suffered a severe heart attack and died at 11.35pm. There seems little doubt that the long years of illness and pain had shortened his life. Cecil King (in "The Cecil King Diary 1970-1974") states that according to mutual friends, he was killed by terminal cancer which by the time of his death was affecting his spine. However, Macleod's own doctor, a Dr Forster, said there was no evidence that he was suffering from cancer at the time of his death.

Iain Macleod left behind him an outline budget which some observers found surprisingly hard-line in its proposals for control of public spending. He also bequeathed his successors a detailed plan for tax reform, much of which was put into action. This included the infamous abolition of free school milk, which became the first significant Ministerial act of the new Education Secretary and future prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.


Many Conservative politicians of generations following Macleod recalled him as a highly effective speaker. He said of the Labour Party under Gaitskell that, when offered their choice of weapons, they invariably chose boomerangs. He was reputed to be the only speaker that Harold Wilson was afraid of - he compared Wilson to a kipper, which has two faces. John Major specifically cited his example on taking office. ManyWho|date=March 2008 believe he would have made a good leader for the party had he lived.


He married Evelyn Hester Mason (née Blois) on 25 January 1941. They had a son and a daughter. Mrs. Macleod was struck down in the summer of 1952 by meningitis and polio, but subsequently managed to walk again with the aid of sticks and worked hard to support her husband's career. After her husband's death she accepted a peerage in 1971 and took her seat in the House of Lords as Baroness Macleod of Borve. Macleod's daughter Diana Heimann was a UK Independence Party candidate at Banbury in the 2005 general election.

Offices held


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