Alec Douglas-Home
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Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel (; 2 July 1903 – 9 October 1995), styled as Lord Dunglass between 1918 and 1951 and being The 14th Earl of Home from 1951 till 1963, was a British
Conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
politician who served as
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
from October 1963 to October 1964. He is notable for being the last Prime Minister to hold office while being a member of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
, before renouncing his peerage and taking up a seat in the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
for the remainder of his premiership. His reputation, however, rests more on his two spells as the UK's foreign secretary than on his brief premiership. Within six years of first entering the House of Commons in 1931, Douglas-Home (then called by the
courtesy title A courtesy title is a title that does not have legal significance but rather is used through custom or courtesy, particularly, in the context of nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), ...
Lord Dunglass) became parliamentary aide to
Neville Chamberlain Arthur Neville Chamberlain (; 18 March 18699 November 1940) was a British politician of the Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. He is best known for his for ...
, witnessing at first hand Chamberlain's efforts as Prime Minister to preserve peace through
appeasement Appeasement in an international context is a diplomacy, diplomatic policy of making political, material, or territorial concessions to an aggressive power (international relations), power in order to avoid conflict. The term is most often appli ...
in the two years before the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1940 Dunglass was diagnosed with spinal
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by ''Mycobacterium tuberculosis'' (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections show no symptoms, in ...
and was immobilised for two years. By the later stages of the war he had recovered enough to resume his political career, but lost his seat in the general election of 1945. He regained it in 1950, but the following year he left the Commons when, on the death of his father, he inherited the earldom of Home and thereby became a member of the House of Lords. Under the premierships of
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 Winston Churchill in the Second World War, dur ...
,
Anthony Eden Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, (12 June 1897 – 14 January 1977) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1955 until his resignation in 195 ...
and
Harold Macmillan Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, (10 February 1894 – 29 December 1986) was a British Conservative statesman and politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1957 to 1963. Caricatured as " Supermac", ...
he was appointed to a series of increasingly senior posts, including
Leader of the House of Lords The leader of the House of Lords is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the senior decision-making body of His Majesty's Government. A committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, ...
and
Foreign Secretary The secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs, known as the foreign secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), minister of the Crown of the Government of the United Kingdom and head of the Foreign, Commonwe ...
. In the latter post, which he held from 1960 to 1963, he supported United States resolve in the
Cuban Missile Crisis The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis (of 1962) ( es, Crisis de Octubre) in Cuba, the Caribbean Crisis () in Russia, or the Missile Scare, was a 35-day (16 October – 20 November 1962) confrontation between the United S ...
and was the United Kingdom's signatory of the
Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty The Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) is the abbreviated name of the 1963 Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water, which prohibited all test detonations of nuclear weapon A nuclear weapon is an ...
in August 1963. In October 1963 Macmillan was taken ill and resigned as Prime Minister. Home was chosen to succeed him. By the 1960s it was generally considered unacceptable for a Prime Minister to sit in the House of Lords, and Home renounced his earldom and successfully stood for election to the House of Commons. The manner of his appointment was controversial, and two of Macmillan's cabinet ministers refused to take office under him. He was criticised by the Labour Party as an aristocrat, out of touch with the problems of ordinary families, and he came over stiffly in television interviews, by contrast with the Labour leader,
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from October 1964 to June 1970, and again from March 1974 to April 1976. He ...
. The Conservative Party, in office since 1951, had lost standing as a result of the
Profumo affair The Profumo affair was a major scandal in twentieth-century Politics of the United Kingdom, British politics. John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan's Conservative Party (UK), Conservative government, had an extramar ...
, a sexual scandal involving a defence minister in 1963, and at the time of Home's appointment as Prime Minister seemed headed for heavy electoral defeat. Home's premiership was the second briefest of the twentieth century, lasting two days short of a year. Among the legislation passed under his government was the abolition of
resale price maintenance Resale price maintenance (RPM) or, occasionally, retail price maintenance is the practice whereby a manufacturer Manufacturing is the creation or Production (economics), production of goods with the help of equipment, Work (human activity) ...
, bringing costs down for the consumer against the interests of producers of food and other commodities. After narrow defeat in the general election of 1964 Douglas-Home resigned the leadership of his party, having instituted a new and less secretive method of electing the party leader. From 1970 to 1974 he served in the cabinet of
Edward Heath Sir Edward Richard George Heath (9 July 191617 July 2005), often known as Ted Heath, was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1974 and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conserv ...
as Secretary of State at the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is a Departments of the Government of the United Kingdom, department of the Government of the United Kingdom. Equivalent to other countries' Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ministries of fore ...
, an expanded version of the post of Foreign Secretary, which he had held earlier. After the defeat of the Heath government in 1974 he returned to the House of Lords as a
life peer In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It ...
, and retired from front-line politics.


Early Life and education

Douglas-Home was born on 2 July 1903 at 28 South Street in
Mayfair Mayfair is an affluent area in the West End of London towards the eastern edge of Hyde Park, in the City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London. I ...
, London, the first of seven children of Lord Dunglass (the eldest son of the 12th Earl of Home) and his wife, the Lady Lilian Lambton (daughter of the 4th Earl of Durham). The boy's first name was customarily abbreviated to "Alec". Among the couple's younger children was the playwright William Douglas-Home. In 1918 the 12th Earl of Home died, Dunglass succeeded him in the earldom, and the
courtesy title A courtesy title is a title that does not have legal significance but rather is used through custom or courtesy, particularly, in the context of nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), ...
passed to his son, Alec Douglas-Home, who was styled Lord Dunglass until 1951. The young Lord Dunglass was educated at
Ludgrove School Ludgrove School is an English independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, area of the Unite ...
, followed by
Eton College Eton College () is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school in Eton, Berkshire, England. It was founded in 1440 by Henry VI of England, Henry VI under the name ''Kynge's College of Our Ladye of Eton besyde Windesore'',Nevill, p. 3 ff. i ...
. At Eton his contemporaries included
Cyril Connolly Cyril Vernon Connolly CBE (10 September 1903 – 26 November 1974) was an English literary critic and writer. He was the editor of the influential literary magazine ''Horizon (magazine), Horizon'' (1940–49) and wrote ''Enemies of Promise'' ( ...
, who later described him as: After Eton, Dunglass went to
Christ Church, Oxford Christ Church ( la, Ædes Christi, the temple or house, ''wikt:aedes, ædēs'', of Christ, and thus sometimes known as "The House") is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Founded ...
, where he graduated with a third-class honours
BA degree Bachelor of arts (BA or AB; from the Latin ', ', or ') is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate education, undergraduate program in the arts, or, in some cases, other disciplines. A Bachelor of Arts degree course is generally complet ...
in
Modern History The term modern period or modern era (sometimes also called modern history or modern times) is the period of history that succeeds the Middle Ages (which ended approximately 1500 AD). This terminology is a historical periodization that is applie ...
in 1925. Dunglass was a talented sportsman. In addition to representing Eton at
fives Fives is an English sport believed to derive from the same origins as many Outline of sports#Racket sports, racquet sports. In fives, a ball is propelled against the walls of a 3- or 4-sided special court, using a gloved or bare hand as thoug ...
, he was a capable cricketer at school, club and county level, and was unique among British prime ministers in having played
first-class cricket First-class cricket, along with List A cricket and Twenty20 cricket, is one of the highest-standard forms of cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, fi ...
. Coached by George Hirst, he became in ''Wisden'''s phrase "a useful member of the Eton XI" that included Percy Lawrie and
Gubby Allen Sir George Oswald Browning "Gubby" Allen CBE (31 July 190229 November 1989) was a cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the centre of which ...
. Wisden observed, "In the rain-affected Eton-Harrow match of 1922 he scored 66, despite being hindered by a saturated outfield, and then took 4 for 37 with his medium-paced out-swingers". At first-class level he represented the
Oxford University Cricket Club Oxford University Cricket Club (OUCC), which represents the University of Oxford, has always held first-class cricket, first-class status since 1827 when it made its debut in the inaugural The University Match (cricket), University Match between ...
,
Middlesex County Cricket Club Middlesex County Cricket Club is one of eighteen first-class cricket, first-class county cricket, county clubs within the domestic cricket structure of England and Wales. It represents the Historic counties of England, historic county of Midd ...
and
Marylebone Cricket Club Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is a cricket club founded in 1787 and based since 1814 at Lord's, Lord's Cricket Ground, which it owns, in St John's Wood, NW postcode area, London. The club was formerly the governing body of cricket retaining cons ...
(MCC). Between 1924 and 1927 he played ten first-class matches, scoring 147 runs at an average of 16.33 with a best score of 37 not out. As a bowler he took 12 wickets at an average of 30.25 with a best of 3 for 43. Three of his first-class games were internationals against
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of , making it the List of South American countries by area, second-largest ...
on the MCC "representative" tour of
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in 1926–27."Sir Alec Douglas-Home"
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, accessed 13 April 2012
Dunglass began serving in the Territorial Army in 1924 as a
lieutenant A lieutenant ( , ; abbreviated Lt., Lt, LT, Lieut and similar) is a commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an Military, armed force or Uniformed services, uniformed service. Broadly ...
in the Lanarkshire Yeomanry, and was promoted to
captain Captain is a title, an appellative for the commanding officer of a military unit; the supreme leader of a navy ship, merchant ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel; or the commander of a port, fire or police department, election precinct, e ...
in 1928.


Professional career


Member of Parliament (1931–1937)

The courtesy title Lord Dunglass did not carry with it membership of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
, and Dunglass was eligible to seek election to the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
. Unlike many aristocratic families, the Douglas-Homes had little history of political service. Uniquely in the family the 11th earl, Dunglass's great-grandfather, had held government office, as Under-Secretary at the
Foreign Office Foreign may refer to: Government * Foreign policy A State (polity), state's foreign policy or external policy (as opposed to internal or domestic policy) is its objectives and activities in relation to its interactions with other states, unio ...
in
Wellington Wellington ( mi, Te Whanganui-a-Tara or ) is the capital city of New Zealand. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range. Wellington is the second-largest city in New Zealand by metr ...
's 1828–1830 government.Dutton, p. 2 Dunglass's father stood, reluctantly and unsuccessfully, for Parliament before succeeding to the earldom. Dunglass had shown little interest in politics while at Eton or Oxford. He had not joined the
Oxford Union The Oxford Union Society, commonly referred to simply as the Oxford Union, is a Debate, debating society in the city of Oxford England, whose membership is drawn primarily from the University of Oxford. Founded in 1823, it is one of Britain's ...
as budding politicians usually did. However, as heir to the family estates he was doubtful about the prospect of life as a country gentleman: "I was always rather discontented with this role and felt it wasn't going to be enough." His biographer David Dutton believes that Dunglass became interested in politics because of the widespread unemployment and poverty in the Scottish lowlands where his family lived. Later in his career, when he had become Prime Minister, Dunglass (by then Sir Alec Douglas-Home) wrote in a memorandum: "I went into politics because I felt that it was a form of public service and that as nearly a generation of politicians had been cut down in the first war those who had anything to give in the way of leadership ought to do so".Hennessy, p. 285 His political thinking was influenced by that of
Noel Skelton Archibald Noel Skelton (1 July 1880 – 22 November 1935) was a Scottish Unionist politician, journalist and intellectual. Early life The son of Sir John Skelton KCB LLD, Skelton was born on 1 July 1880 at Hermitage of Braid in Edinburgh ...
, a member of the Unionist party (as the
Conservatives Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
were called in Scotland between 1912 and 1965). Skelton advocated "a property-owning democracy", based on share-options for workers and
industrial democracy Industrial democracy is an arrangement which involves workers making decisions, sharing responsibility and authority in the workplace. While in participative management organizational designs workers are listened to and take part in the decisio ...
. Dunglass was not persuaded by the socialist ideal of public ownership. He shared Skelton's view that "what everybody owns nobody owns". With Skelton's support Dunglass secured the Unionist candidacy at
Coatbridge Coatbridge ( sco, Cotbrig or Coatbrig, gd, Drochaid a' Chòta) is a town in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, about east of Glasgow city centre, set in the central Lowlands. Along with neighbouring town Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Airdrie, Coatbrid ...
for the 1929 general election. It was not a seat that the Unionists expected to win, and he lost to his Labour opponent with 9,210 votes to Labour's 16,879. It was, however, valuable experience for Dunglass, who was of a gentle and uncombative disposition and not a natural orator; he began to learn how to deal with hostile audiences and get his message across. When a coalition " National Government" was formed in 1931 to deal with a financial crisis Dunglass was adopted as the pro-coalition Unionist candidate for
Lanark Lanark (; gd, Lannraig ; sco, Lanrik) is a town in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, located 20 kilometres to the south-east of Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Hamilton. The town lies on the River Clyde, at its confluence with Mouse Water. In 2016, th ...
. The electorate of the area was mixed, and the constituency was not seen as a safe seat for any party; at the 1929 election Labour had captured it from the Unionists. With the backing of the pro-coalition Liberal party, which supported him rather than fielding its own candidate, Dunglass easily beat the Labour candidate.Dutton, p. 7 Membership of the new House of Commons was overwhelmingly made up of pro-coalition MPs, and there was therefore a large number of eligible members for the government posts to be filled. In Dutton's phrase, "it would have been easy for Dunglass to have languished indefinitely in
backbench In Westminster system, Westminster and other parliamentary systems, a backbencher is a member of parliament (MP) or a legislator who occupies no Minister (government), governmental office and is not a Frontbencher, frontbench spokesperson i ...
obscurity." However, Skelton, appointed as Under-secretary at the
Scottish Office The Scottish Office was a department of the Government of the United Kingdom from 1885 until 1999, exercising a wide range of government functions in relation to Scotland under the control of the Secretary of State for Scotland. Following the es ...
, offered Dunglass the unpaid post of unofficial parliamentary aide. This was doubly advantageous to Dunglass. Any MP appointed as official
Parliamentary Private Secretary A Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) is a Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) in the United Kingdom who acts as an unpaid assistant to a Minister of the Crown, minister or Shadow Minister, shadow minister. They ar ...
(PPS) to a government minister was privy to the inner workings of government but was expected to maintain a discreet silence in the House of Commons. Dunglass achieved the first without having to observe the second. He made his maiden speech in February 1932 on the subject of economic policy, advocating a cautiously
protectionist Protectionism, sometimes referred to as trade protectionism, is the economic policy The economy of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case ...
approach to cheap imports. He countered Labour's objection that this would raise the cost of living, arguing that a tariff "stimulates employment and gives work ndincreases the purchasing power of the people by substituting wages for unemployment benefit." During four years as Skelton's aide Dunglass was part of a team working on a wide range of issues, from medical services in rural Scotland to land settlements, fisheries, education, and industry. Dunglass was appointed official PPS to Anthony Muirhead, junior minister at the Ministry of Labour, in 1935, and less than a year later became PPS to the
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of HM Treasury, His Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Great Offices of State, the Ch ...
,
Neville Chamberlain Arthur Neville Chamberlain (; 18 March 18699 November 1940) was a British politician of the Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. He is best known for his for ...
.


Chamberlain and war

By the time of Dunglass's appointment Chamberlain was generally seen as the heir to the premiership, and in 1937 the incumbent,
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party politician who dominated the government of the Interwar Britain, United Kingdom between the world wars, serv ...
, retired, and Chamberlain succeeded him. He retained Dunglass as his PPS, a role described by the biographer D. R. Thorpe as "the right-hand man ... the eyes and ears of Neville Chamberlain", and by Dutton as "liaison officer with the Parliamentary party, transmitting and receiving information and eepinghis master informed of the mood on the government's back benches." This was particularly important for Chamberlain, who was often seen as distant and aloof;
Douglas Hurd Douglas Richard Hurd, Baron Hurd of Westwell, (born 8 March 1930) is a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party politician who served in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major from 1979 to 1995. A career diplomat and ...
wrote that he "lacked the personal charm which makes competent administration palatable to wayward colleagues – a gift which his parliamentary private secretary possessed in abundance."Hurd, Dougla
"Home, Alexander Frederick Douglas-, fourteenth earl of Home and Baron Home of the Hirsel (1903–1995)"
''
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography The ''Dictionary of National Biography'' (''DNB'') is a standard work of reference on notable figures from History of the British Isles, British history, published since 1885. The updated ''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography'' (''ODNB'') ...
'', Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 14 April 2012
Dunglass admired Chamberlain, despite his daunting personality: "I liked him, and I think he liked me. But if one went in at the end of the day for a chat or a gossip, he would be inclined to ask 'What do you want?' He was a very difficult man to get to know." As Chamberlain's aide Dunglass witnessed at first-hand the Prime Minister's attempts to prevent a second world war through
appeasement Appeasement in an international context is a diplomacy, diplomatic policy of making political, material, or territorial concessions to an aggressive power (international relations), power in order to avoid conflict. The term is most often appli ...
of
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was dictator of Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populo ...
's Germany. When Chamberlain had his final meeting with Hitler at Munich in September 1938, Dunglass accompanied him. Having gained a short-lived extension of peace by acceding to Hitler's territorial demands at the expense of Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain was welcomed back to London by cheering crowds. Ignoring Dunglass's urging he made an uncharacteristically grandiloquent speech, claiming to have brought back "Peace with Honour" and promising "peace for our time". These words were to haunt him when Hitler's continued aggression made war unavoidable less than a year later. Chamberlain remained prime minister from the outbreak of war in September 1939 until May 1940, when, in Dunglass's words, "he could no longer command support of a majority in the Conservative party". After a vote in the Commons, in which the government's majority fell from more than 200 to 81, Chamberlain made way for
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 Winston Churchill in the Second World War, dur ...
. He accepted the non-departmental post of
Lord President of the Council The lord president of the Council is the presiding officer of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom The Privy Council (PC), officially His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the sovereign of th ...
in the new coalition government; Dunglass remained as his PPS, having earlier declined the offer of a ministerial post as Under-secretary at the Scottish Office. Although Chamberlain's reputation never recovered from Munich, and his supporters such as R. A. Butler suffered throughout their later careers from the "appeasement" tag, Dunglass largely escaped blame. Nevertheless, Dunglass firmly maintained all his life that the Munich agreement had been vital to the survival of Britain and the defeat of Nazi Germany by giving the UK an extra year to prepare for a war that it could not have contested in 1938. Within months of his leaving the premiership Chamberlain's health began to fail; he resigned from the cabinet, and died after a short illness in November 1940. Dunglass had volunteered for active military service, seeking to rejoin the Lanarkshire Yeomanry shortly after Chamberlain left Downing Street. The consequent medical examination revealed that Dunglass had a hole in his spine surrounded by
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by ''Mycobacterium tuberculosis'' (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections show no symptoms, in ...
in the bone. Without surgery he would have been unable to walk within a matter of months.Thorpe (1997), p. 109 An innovative and hazardous operation was performed in September 1940, lasting six hours, in which the diseased bone in the spine was scraped away and replaced with healthy bone from the patient's shin. For all of Dunglass's humour and patience, the following two years were a grave trial. He was encased in plaster and kept flat on his back for most of that period. Although buoyed up by the sensitive support of his wife and family, as he later confessed, "I often felt that I would be better dead". Towards the end of 1942 he was released from his plaster jacket and fitted with a spinal brace, and in early 1943 he was mobile for the first time since the operation. During his incapacity he read voraciously; among the works he studied were ''
Das Kapital ''Das Kapital'', also known as ''Capital: A Critique of Political Economy'' or sometimes simply ''Capital'' (german: Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Ökonomie, link=no, ; 1867–1883), is a foundational theoretical text in materialist phi ...
'', and works by
Engels Friedrich Engels ( ,"Engels"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
Lenin Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. ( 1870 – 21 January 1924), better known as Vladimir Lenin,. was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as the first and founding Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of t ...
, biographies of nineteenth and twentieth century politicians, and novels by authors from
Dostoyevsky Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (, ; rus, Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский, Fyódor Mikháylovich Dostoyévskiy, p=ˈfʲɵdər mʲɪˈxajləvʲɪdʑ dəstɐˈjefskʲɪj, a=ru-Dostoevsky.ogg, links=yes; 11 November 18219 ...
to Koestler. In July 1943 Dunglass attended the House of Commons for the first time since 1940, and began to make a reputation as a backbench member, particularly for his expertise in the field of foreign affairs. He foresaw a post-imperial future for Britain and emphasised the need for strong European ties after the war. In 1944, with the war now turning in the Allies' favour, Dunglass spoke eloquently about the importance of resisting the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
's ambition to dominate eastern Europe. His boldness in publicly urging Churchill not to give in to
Joseph Stalin Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili; – 5 March 1953) was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former ...
was widely remarked upon; many, including Churchill himself, observed that some of those once associated with appeasement were determined that it should not be repeated in the face of Russian aggression. Labour left the wartime coalition in May 1945 and Churchill formed a caretaker Conservative government, pending a general election in July. Dunglass was appointed to his first ministerial post:
Anthony Eden Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, (12 June 1897 – 14 January 1977) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1955 until his resignation in 195 ...
remained in charge of the Foreign Office, and Dunglass was appointed as one of his two Under-secretaries of State.


Postwar and House of Lords (1945–57)

In 1950,
Clement Attlee Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, (3 January 18838 October 1967) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951 and Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 t ...
, the Labour Prime Minister, called a general election. Dunglass was invited to stand once again as Unionist candidate for Lanark. Having been disgusted at personal attacks during the 1945 campaign by Tom Steele, his Labour opponent, Dunglass did not scruple to remind the voters of Lanark that Steele had warmly thanked the Communist Party and its members for helping him take the seat from the Unionists. By 1950, with the
Cold War The Cold War is a term commonly used to refer to a period of Geopolitics, geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc. The term ''Cold war (term), co ...
at its height, Steele's association with the communists was a crucial electoral liability. Dunglass regained the seat with one of the smallest majorities in any British constituency: 19,890 to Labour's 19,205. Labour narrowly won the general election, with a majority of five. In July 1951 the 13th earl died. Dunglass succeeded him, inheriting the title of Earl of Home together with the extensive family estates, including the Hirsel, the Douglas-Homes' principal residence. The new Lord Home took his seat in the Lords; a by-election was called to appoint a new MP for Lanark, but it was still pending when Attlee called another general election in October 1951. The Unionists held Lanark, and the national result gave the Conservatives under Churchill a small but working majority of seventeen. Home was appointed to the new post of Minister of State at the Scottish Office, a middle-ranking position, senior to Under-secretary but junior to James Stuart, the Secretary of State, who was a member of the cabinet. Stuart, previously an influential
chief whip The Chief Whip is a political leader whose task is to enforce the Whip (politics), whipping system, which aims to ensure that legislators who are members of a political party attend and vote on legislation as the party leadership prescribes. ...
, was a confidant of Churchill, and possibly the most powerful Scottish Secretary in any government. Thorpe writes that Home owed his appointment to Stuart's advocacy rather than to any great enthusiasm on the Prime Minister's part (Churchill referred to him as "Home sweet Home").Thorpe (1997), p. 141 In addition to his ministerial position Home was appointed to membership of the
Privy Council A privy council is a body that advice (constitutional), advises the head of state of a State (polity), state, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchy, monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a pr ...
(PC), an honour granted only selectively to ministers below cabinet rank. Throughout Churchill's second term as Prime Minister (1951–55) Home remained at the Scottish Office, although both Eden at the Foreign Office and
Lord Salisbury Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (; 3 February 183022 August 1903) was a British statesman and Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom three times for a ...
at the Commonwealth Relations Office invited him to join their ministerial teams. Among the Scottish matters with which he dealt were hydro-electric projects, hill farming, sea transport, road transport, forestry, and the welfare of crofters in the Highlands and the
Western Isles The Outer Hebrides () or Western Isles ( gd, Na h-Eileanan Siar or or ("islands of the strangers"); sco, Waster Isles), sometimes known as the Long Isle/Long Island ( gd, An t-Eilean Fada, links=no), is an Archipelago, island chain off t ...
. These matters went largely unreported in the British press, but the question of the royal cypher on Post Office pillar boxes became front-page news. Because
Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was List of English monarchs, Queen of England and List of Irish monarchs, Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death in 1603. Elizabeth was the last of the five House of Tudor monarchs and is ...
of England was never queen of Scotland, some nationalists maintained when Elizabeth II came to the British throne in 1952 that in Scotland she should be styled "Elizabeth I". Churchill said in the House of Commons that considering the "greatness and splendour of Scotland", and the contribution of the Scots to British and world history, "they ought to keep their silliest people in order". Home nevertheless arranged that in Scotland new pillar boxes were decorated with the royal crown instead of the full cypher. When Eden succeeded Churchill as Prime Minister in 1955 he promoted Home to the cabinet as Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. At the time of this appointment Home had not been to any of the countries within his ministerial remit, and he quickly arranged to visit Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, Pakistan and Ceylon.Dutton, p. 21 He had to deal with the sensitive subject of immigration from and between Commonwealth countries, where a delicate balance had to be struck between resistance in some quarters in Britain and Australia to non-white immigration on the one hand, and on the other the danger of sanctions in India and Pakistan against British commercial interests if discriminatory policies were pursued. In most respects, when Home took up the appointment it seemed to be a relatively uneventful period in the history of the Commonwealth. The upheaval of Indian independence in 1947 was well in the past, and the wave of decolonising of the 1960s was yet to come. However, it fell to Home to maintain Commonwealth unity during the
Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression ( ar, العدوان الثلاثي, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy) in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 Wa ...
in 1956, described by Dutton as "the most divisive in its history to date". Australia, New Zealand and South Africa backed the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt to regain control of the Suez Canal. Canada, Ceylon, India and Pakistan opposed it.Thorpe (1997), pp. 178–81 There appeared to be a real danger that Ceylon, India and, particularly, Pakistan might leave the Commonwealth. Home was firm in his support of the invasion, but used his contacts with
Jawaharlal Nehru Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (; ; ; 14 November 1889 – 27 May 1964) was an Indian Anti-colonial nationalism, anti-colonial nationalist, secular humanist, social democrat— * * * * and author who was a central figure in India du ...
, V. K. Krishna Menon, Nan Pandit and others to try to prevent the Commonwealth from breaking up. His relationship with Eden was supportive and relaxed; he felt able, as others did not, to warn Eden of unease about Suez both internationally and among some members of the cabinet. Eden dismissed the latter as the "weak sisters"; the most prominent was Butler, whose perceived hesitancy over Suez on top of his support for appeasement of Hitler damaged his standing within the Conservative party. When the invasion was abandoned under pressure from the US in November 1956, Home worked with the dissenting members of the Commonwealth to build the organisation into what Hurd calls "a modern multiracial Commonwealth".


Macmillan's government

Eden resigned in January 1957. In 1955 he had been the obvious successor to Churchill, but this time there was no clear heir apparent. Leaders of the Conservative party were not elected by ballot of MPs or party members, but emerged after informal soundings within the party, known as "the customary processes of consultation". The chief whip,
Edward Heath Sir Edward Richard George Heath (9 July 191617 July 2005), often known as Ted Heath, was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1974 and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conserv ...
, canvassed the views of backbench Conservative MPs, and two senior Conservative peers, the Lord President of the Council, Lord Salisbury, and the Lord Chancellor, Lord Kilmuir, saw members of the cabinet individually to ascertain their preferences. Only one cabinet colleague supported Butler; the rest, including Home, opted for Macmillan. Churchill, whom the Queen consulted, did the same.Thorpe (1997), p. 189 Macmillan was appointed Prime Minister on 10 January 1957. In the new administration Home remained at the Commonwealth Relations Office. Much of his time was spent on matters relating to Africa, where the futures of Bechuanaland and the
Central African Federation Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...
needed to be agreed. Among other matters in which he was involved were the dispute between India and Pakistan over
Kashmir Kashmir () is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the Kashmir Valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal Range. Today, the term encompass ...
, assisted emigration from Britain to Australia, and relations with Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus. The last unexpectedly led to an enhanced cabinet role for Home. Makarios, leader of the militant anti-British and pro-Greek movement, was detained in exile in the
Seychelles Seychelles (, ; ), officially the Republic of Seychelles (french: link=no, République des Seychelles; Seychellois Creole, Creole: ''La Repiblik Sesel''), is an archipelagic state consisting of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. Its capital ...
. Macmillan, with the agreement of Home and most of the cabinet, decided that this imprisonment was doing more harm than good to Britain's position in Cyprus, and ordered Makarios's release. Lord Salisbury strongly dissented from the decision and resigned from the cabinet in March 1957. Macmillan added Salisbury's responsibilities to Home's existing duties, making him Lord President of the Council and
Leader of the House of Lords The leader of the House of Lords is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the senior decision-making body of His Majesty's Government. A committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, ...
. The first of these posts was largely honorific, but the leadership of the Lords put Home in charge of getting the government's business through the upper house, and brought him nearer to the centre of power. In Hurd's phrase, "By the imperceptible process characteristic of British politics he found himself month by month, without any particular manoeuvre on his part, becoming an indispensable figure in the government." Home was generally warmly regarded by colleagues and opponents alike, and there were few politicians who did not respond well to him. One was Attlee, but as their political primes did not overlap this was of minor consequence. More important was
Iain Macleod Iain Norman Macleod (11 November 1913 – 20 July 1970) was a British Conservative Party politician and government minister. A playboy and professional bridge A bridge is a structure built to span a physical obstacle (such as a body of ...
's prickly relationship with Home. Macleod,
Secretary of State for the Colonies The secretary of state for the colonies or colonial secretary was the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, British Cabinet government minister, minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various British Empire, colonial dependencies. Histor ...
from 1959–61, was, like Butler, on the liberal wing of the Conservative party; he was convinced, as Home was not, that Britain's colonies in Africa should have majority rule and independence as quickly as possible. Their spheres of influence overlapped in the Central African Federation. Macleod wished to push ahead with majority rule and independence; Home believed in a more gradual approach to independence, accommodating both white minority and black majority opinions and interests. Macleod disagreed with those who warned that precipitate independence would lead the newly independent nations into "trouble, strife, poverty, dictatorship" and other evils. His reply was, "Would you want the Romans to have stayed on in Britain?"Frankel, P H. "Iain Macleod", ''
The Economist ''The Economist'' is a British weekly newspaper printed in Paper size#Demitab, demitab format and Electronic publishing, published digitally. It focuses on current affairs, international business, politics, technology, and culture. Based in Lo ...
'', 23 October 1976, p. 4
He threatened to resign unless he was allowed to release the leading
Nyasaland Nyasaland () was a British protectorate located in Africa that was established in 1907 when the former British Central Africa Protectorate changed its name. Between 1953 and 1963, Nyasaland was part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland ...
activist Hastings Banda from prison, a move that Home and others thought unwise and liable to provoke distrust of Britain among the white minority in the federation. Macleod had his way, but by that time Home was no longer at the Commonwealth Relations Office.


Foreign Secretary (1960–1963)

In 1960 the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Derick Heathcoat-Amory Derick Heathcoat-Amory, 1st Viscount Amory, , ( ; 26 December 1899 – 20 January 1981) was a British Conservative politician and member of the House of Lords This is a list of members of the House of Lords, the upper house of the Parliament ...
, insisted on retiring. Macmillan agreed with Heathcoat-Amory that the best successor at the
Treasury A treasury is either *A government department related to finance and taxation, a Finance minister, finance ministry. *A place or location where treasure, such as currency or precious items are kept. These can be State ownership, state or roya ...
would be the current Foreign Secretary,
Selwyn Lloyd John Selwyn Brooke Lloyd, Baron Selwyn-Lloyd, (28 July 1904 – 18 May 1978) was a British politician. Born and raised in Cheshire, he was an active Liberal Party (UK), Liberal as a young man in the 1920s. In the following decade, he practised ...
. In terms of ability and experience the obvious candidate to take over from Lloyd at the Foreign Office was Home, but by 1960 there was an expectation that the Foreign Secretary would be a member of the House of Commons. The post had not been held by a peer since
Lord Halifax Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax, (16 April 1881 – 23 December 1959), known as The Lord Irwin from 1925 until 1934 and The Viscount Halifax from 1934 until 1944, was a senior Conservative Party (UK), British Conservat ...
in 1938–40; Eden had wished to appoint Salisbury in 1955, but concluded that it would be unacceptable to the Commons. After discussions with Lloyd and senior civil servants, Macmillan took the unprecedented step of appointing two Foreign Office cabinet ministers: Home, as Foreign Secretary, in the Lords, and Edward Heath, as
Lord Privy Seal The Lord Privy Seal (or, more formally, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal) is the fifth of the Great Officers of State (United Kingdom), Great Officers of State in the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord President of the Council and abov ...
and deputy Foreign Secretary, in the Commons. With British application for admission to the
European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regional organization created by the Treaty of Rome of 1957,Today the largely rewritten treaty continues in force as the ''Treaty on the functioning of the European Union'', as renamed by the Lisbo ...
(EEC) pending, Heath was given particular responsibility for the EEC negotiations as well as for speaking in the Commons on foreign affairs in general. The opposition Labour party protested at Home's appointment; its leader,
Hugh Gaitskell Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell (9 April 1906 – 18 January 1963) was a British politician who served as Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition (United Kingdom), Leader of the Opposition from 1955 ...
, said that it was "constitutionally objectionable" for a peer to be in charge of the Foreign Office. Macmillan responded that an accident of birth should not be allowed to deny him the services of "the best man for the job – the man I want at my side".Pike, p. 462 Hurd comments, "Like all such artificial commotions it died down after a time (and indeed was not renewed with any strength nineteen years later when
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. S ...
appointed another peer, Lord Carrington, to the same post)". The Home–Heath partnership worked well. Despite their different backgrounds and ages – Home an
Edwardian The Edwardian era or Edwardian period of British history spanned the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910 and is sometimes extended to the start of the First World War. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 marked the end of the Victori ...
aristocrat and Heath a lower-middle class meritocrat raised in the inter-war years – the two men respected and liked one another. Home supported Macmillan's ambition to get Britain into the EEC, and was happy to leave the negotiations in Heath's hands. Home's attention was mainly concentrated on the Cold War, where his forcefully expressed anti-communist beliefs were tempered by a pragmatic approach to dealing with the Soviet Union. His first major problem in this sphere was in 1961 when on the orders of the Soviet leader,
Nikita Khrushchev Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (– 11 September 1971) was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964 and Premier of the Soviet Union, chairm ...
, the
Berlin Wall The Berlin Wall (german: Berliner Mauer, ) was a guarded concrete barrier that encircled West Berlin from 1961 to 1989, separating it from East Berlin and East Germany (GDR). Construction of the Berlin Wall was commenced by the govern ...
was erected to stop
East Germans East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; german: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, , DDR, ), was a country that existed from its creation on 7 October 1949 until German reunification, its dissolution on 3 October 1990. In t ...
escaping to
West Germany West Germany is the colloquial term used to indicate the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG; german: Bundesrepublik Deutschland , BRD) between its formation on 23 May 1949 and the German reunification through the accession of East Germany on 3 O ...
via
West Berlin West Berlin (german: Berlin (West) or , ) was a political enclave which comprised the western part of Berlin Berlin ( , ) is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3.7 million inhabitants make it the E ...
. Home wrote to his American counterpart,
Dean Rusk David Dean Rusk (February 9, 1909December 20, 1994) was the United States Secretary of State from 1961 to 1969 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, the second-longest serving Secretary of State after Cordell Hull from the Pre ...
, "The prevention of East Berliners getting into West Berlin has never been a ''casus belli'' for us. We are concerned with Western access to Berlin and that is what we must maintain." The governments of West Germany, Britain and the US quickly reached agreement on their joint negotiating position; it remained to persuade President de Gaulle of France to align himself with the allies. During their discussions Macmillan commented that de Gaulle showed "all the rigidity of a poker without its occasional warmth." An agreement was reached, and the allies tacitly recognised that the wall was going to remain in place. The Soviets for their part did not seek to cut off allied access to West Berlin through East German territory. The following year the
Cuban Missile Crisis The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis (of 1962) ( es, Crisis de Octubre) in Cuba, the Caribbean Crisis () in Russia, or the Missile Scare, was a 35-day (16 October – 20 November 1962) confrontation between the United S ...
threatened to turn the Cold War into a nuclear one. Soviet nuclear missiles were brought to Cuba, provocatively close to the US. The American president, John F Kennedy, insisted that they must be removed, and many thought that the world was on the brink of catastrophe with nuclear exchanges between the two super-powers. Despite a public image of unflappable calm, Macmillan was by nature nervous and highly strung. During the missile crisis, Home, whose calm was genuine and innate, strengthened the Prime Minister's resolve, and encouraged him to back up Kennedy's defiance of Soviet threats of nuclear attack. The Lord Chancellor ( Lord Dilhorne), the
Attorney General In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general or attorney-general (sometimes abbreviated AG or Atty.-Gen) is the main legal advisor to the government. The plural is attorneys general. In some jurisdictions, attorneys general also have exec ...
( Sir John Hobson) and the Solicitor General, ( Sir Peter Rawlinson) privately gave Home their opinion that the American blockade of Cuba was a breach of international law, but he continued to advocate a policy of strong support for Kennedy. When Khrushchev backed down and removed the Soviet missiles from Cuba, Home commented: The principal landmark of Home's term as Foreign Secretary was also in the sphere of east–west relations: the negotiation and signature of the
Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty The Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) is the abbreviated name of the 1963 Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water, which prohibited all test detonations of nuclear weapon A nuclear weapon is an ...
in 1963. He got on well with his American and Soviet counterparts, Rusk and
Andrei Gromyko Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko (russian: Андрей Андреевич Громыко; be, Андрэй Андрэевіч Грамыка;  – 2 July 1989) was a Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist ...
. The latter wrote that whenever he met Home there were "no sudden, still less brilliant, breakthroughs" but "each meeting left a civilised impression that made the next meeting easier." Gromyko concluded that Home added sharpness to British foreign policy. Gromyko, Home and Rusk signed the treaty in Moscow on 5 August 1963."Three Ministers Sign Test Ban Treaty in Moscow", ''The Times'', 6 August 1963, p. 8 After the fear provoked internationally by the Cuban Missile Crisis, the ban on nuclear testing in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water was widely welcomed as a step towards ending the cold war. For the British government the good news from Moscow was doubly welcome for drawing attention away from the
Profumo affair The Profumo affair was a major scandal in twentieth-century Politics of the United Kingdom, British politics. John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan's Conservative Party (UK), Conservative government, had an extramar ...
, a sexual scandal involving a senior minister, which had left Macmillan's administration looking vulnerable.


Successor to Macmillan

In October 1963, just before the Conservative party's annual conference, Macmillan was taken ill with a prostatic obstruction. The condition was at first thought more serious than it turned out to be, and he announced that he would resign as Prime Minister as soon as a successor was appointed. Three senior politicians were considered likely successors, Butler (
First Secretary of State The First Secretary of State is an office that is sometimes held by a minister of the Crown in the Government of the United Kingdom. The office indicates seniority, including over all other Secretary of State (United Kingdom), Secretaries of Stat ...
),
Reginald Maudling Reginald Maudling (7 March 1917 – 14 February 1979) was a British politician who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1962 to 1964 and as Home Secretary from 1970 to 1972. From 1955 until the late 1960s, he was spoken of as a prospecti ...
(Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Lord Hailsham (Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords). ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'' summed up their support: In the same article, Home was mentioned in passing as "a fourth hypothetical candidate" on whom the party could compromise if necessary. It was assumed in the ''Times'' article, and by other commentators, that if Hailsham (or Home) was a candidate he would have to renounce his peerage. This had been made possible for the first time by recent legislation. The last British Prime Minister to sit in the House of Lords was the third
Marquess of Salisbury Marquess of Salisbury is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain The Peerage of Great Britain comprises all extant peerages created in the Kingdom of Great Britain between the Acts of Union 1707 and the Acts of Union 1800. It replaced th ...
in 1902. By 1923, having to choose between Baldwin and
Lord Curzon George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, (11 January 1859 – 20 March 1925), styled Lord Curzon of Kedleston between 1898 and 1911 and then Earl Curzon of Kedleston between 1911 and 1921, was a British Conservative Party (UK) ...
,
George V George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936. Born during the reign of his grandmother Q ...
decided that "the requirements of the present times" obliged him to appoint a Prime Minister from the Commons. His private secretary recorded that the King "believed he would not be fulfilling his trust were he now to make his selection of Prime Minister from the House of Lords". Similarly, after the resignation of Neville Chamberlain in 1940 there were two likely successors, Churchill and Halifax, but the latter ruled himself out for the premiership on the grounds that his membership of the House of Lords disqualified him. In 1963, therefore, it was well established that the Prime Minister should be a member of the House of Commons. On 10 October Hailsham announced his intention to renounce his viscountcy. The "customary processes" once again took place. The usual privacy of the consultations was made impossible because they took place during the party conference, and the potential successors made their bids very publicly. Butler had the advantage of giving the party leader's keynote address to the conference in Macmillan's absence, but was widely thought to have wasted the opportunity by delivering an uninspiring speech. Hailsham put off many potential backers by his extrovert, and some thought vulgar, campaigning. Maudling, like Butler, made a speech that failed to impress the conference. Senior Conservative figures such as Lord Woolton and Selwyn Lloyd urged Home to make himself available for consideration. Having ruled himself out of the race when the news of Macmillan's illness broke, Home angered at least two of his cabinet colleagues by changing his mind. Macmillan quickly came to the view that Home would be the best choice as his successor, and gave him valuable behind-the-scenes backing. He let it be known that if he recovered he would be willing to serve as a member of a Home cabinet. He had earlier favoured Hailsham, but changed his mind when he learned from Lord Harlech, the British ambassador to the US, that the Kennedy administration was uneasy at the prospect of Hailsham as Prime Minister, and from his chief whip that Hailsham, seen as a right-winger, would alienate moderate voters.Thorpe (1997), pp. 303–05 Butler, by contrast, was seen as on the liberal wing of the Conservatives, and his election as leader might split the party. The Lord Chancellor, Lord Dilhorne, conducted a poll of cabinet members, and reported to Macmillan that taking account of first and second preferences there were ten votes for Home, four for Maudling, three for Butler and two for Hailsham. The appointment of a Prime Minister remained part of the
royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in Civil law (legal system), civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy, as belonging to the monarch, sovereign and whic ...
, on which the monarch had no constitutional duty to consult an outgoing Prime Minister. Nevertheless, Macmillan advised the Queen that he considered Home the right choice. Little of this was known beyond the senior ranks of the party and the royal secretariat. On 18 October ''The Times'' ran the headline, "The Queen May Send for Mr. Butler Today". ''
The Daily Telegraph ''The Daily Telegraph'', known online and elsewhere as ''The Telegraph'', is a national British daily broadsheet newspaper published in London by Telegraph Media Group and distributed across the United Kingdom and internationally. It was fou ...
'' and ''
The Financial Times The ''Financial Times'' (''FT'') is a British daily newspaper printed in broadsheet and published digitally that focuses on business and economic Current affairs (news format), current affairs. Based in London, England, the paper is owned by a J ...
'' also predicted that Butler was about to be appointed. The Queen sent for Home the same day. Aware of the divisions within the governing party, she did not appoint him Prime Minister, but invited him to see whether he was able to form a government. Home's cabinet colleagues
Enoch Powell John Enoch Powell, (16 June 1912 – 8 February 1998) was a British politician, classical scholar, author, linguist, soldier, philologist, and poet. He served as a Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Member of Parliament (1950–1974) and w ...
and Iain Macleod, who disapproved of his candidacy, made a last-minute effort to prevent him from taking office by trying to persuade Butler and the other candidates not to take posts in a Home cabinet. Butler, however, believed it to be his duty to serve in the cabinet; he refused to have any part in the conspiracy, and accepted the post of Foreign Secretary.Howard, p. 321 The other candidates followed Butler's lead and only Powell and Macleod held out and refused office under Home. Macleod commented, "One does not expect to have many people with one in the last ditch".Goldsworthy, Davi
"Macleod, Iain Norman (1913–1970)"
''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography'', Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, January 2011, accessed 21 April 2012
On 19 October Home was able to return to
Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace () is a London royal official residence, residence and the administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and roya ...
to kiss hands as Prime Minister.Pike, p. 463 The press was not only wrong-footed by the appointment, but generally highly critical. The pro-Labour ''
Daily Mirror The ''Daily Mirror'' is a British national daily Tabloid journalism, tabloid. Founded in 1903, it is owned by parent company Reach plc. From 1985 to 1987, and from 1997 to 2002, the title on its Masthead (British publishing), masthead was simpl ...
'' said on its front page: ''The Times'', generally pro-Conservative, had backed Butler, and called it "prodigal" of the party to pass over his many talents. The paper praised Home as "an outstandingly successful Foreign Secretary", but doubted his grasp of domestic affairs, his modernising instincts and his suitability "to carry the Conservative Party through a fierce and probably dirty campaign" at the general election due within a year. ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gu ...
'', liberal in its political outlook, remarked that Home "does not look like the man to impart force and purpose to his Cabinet and the country" and suggested that he seemed too frail politically to be even a stop-gap. ''
The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper Sunday editions, published on Sundays. It is a sister paper to ''The Guardian'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', whose parent company Guardian Media Group, Guardian Media Group Limited acquired it in 1993. ...
'', another liberal-minded paper, said, "The overwhelming – and damaging – impression left by the events of the last two weeks is that the Tories have been forced to settle for a second-best. ... The calmness and steadiness which made him a good Foreign Secretary, particularly at times of crisis like Berlin and Cuba, may also be a liability." In January 1964, and in the absence of any other information, Macleod now editor of ''
The Spectator ''The Spectator'' is a weekly British magazine on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first published in July 1828, making it the oldest surviving weekly magazine in the world. It is owned by Frederick Barclay, who also owns '' T ...
'', used the pretext of a review of a book by
Randolph Churchill Randolph Frederick Edward Spencer-Churchill (28 May 1911 – 6 June 1968) was an English journalist, writer, soldier, and politician. He served as Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliame ...
to publicise his own different and very detailed version of the leadership election. He described the "soundings" of five Tory grandees, four of whom, like Home and Macmillan had been to school at Eton, as a stitch up by an Etonian 'magic circle.' The article received wide publicity convincing Anthony Howard, who later declared himself "deeply affronted ...and never more affronted than when Alec Douglas-Home became leader of the Conservative Party."


Prime minister (1963–1964)

On 23 October 1963, four days after becoming Prime Minister, Home disclaimed his earldom and associated lesser peerages. Having been made a Knight of the Order of the Thistle (KT) in 1962, he was known after stepping down from the Lords as Sir Alec Douglas-Home. The safe Unionist seat of Kinross and West Perthshire was vacant, and Douglas-Home was adopted as his party's candidate. Parliament was due to meet on 24 October after the summer recess, but its return was postponed until 12 November pending the by-election.Pike, p. 464 For twenty days Douglas-Home was Prime Minister while a member of neither house of Parliament, a situation without modern precedent. He won the by-election with a majority of 9,328; the Liberal candidate was in second place and Labour in third. The Parliamentary leader of the opposition Labour party,
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from October 1964 to June 1970, and again from March 1974 to April 1976. He ...
, attacked the new prime minister as "an elegant anachronism". He asserted that nobody from Douglas-Home's background knew of the problems of ordinary families. In particular, Wilson demanded to know how "a scion of an effete establishment" could lead the technological revolution that Wilson held to be necessary: "This is the counter-revolution ... After half a century of democratic advance, of social revolution, the whole process has ground to a halt with a fourteenth earl!" Douglas-Home dismissed this as inverted snobbery, and observed, "I suppose Mr Wilson, when you come to think of it, is the fourteenth Mr Wilson." He called Wilson "this slick salesman of synthetic science" and the Labour party "the only relic of class consciousness in the country". The opposition retreated, with a statement in the press that "The Labour Party is not interested in the fact that the new prime minister inherited a fourteenth Earldom – he cannot help his antecedents any more than the rest of us." Douglas-Home inherited from Macmillan a government widely perceived as in decline; Hurd wrote that it was "becalmed in a sea of satire and scandal." Douglas-Home was the target of satirists on
BBC television BBC Television is a service of the BBC. The corporation has operated a Public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom, public broadcast television service in the United Kingdom, under the terms of a royal charter, since 1927. It produced t ...
and in ''
Private Eye ''Private Eye'' is a British fortnightly satire, satirical and current affairs (news format), current affairs news magazine, founded in 1961. It is published in London and has been edited by Ian Hislop since 1986. The publication is widely r ...
'' magazine. ''Private Eye'' persistently referred to him as "Baillie Vass", in allusion to a Scottish
bailie A bailie or baillie is a civic officer in the local government of Scotland. The position arose in the burghs, where bailies formerly held a post similar to that of an alderman or magistrate (see bailiff). Baillies appointed the High Constables of ...
. Unlike Wilson, Douglas-Home was not at ease on television, and came across as less spontaneous than his opponent. In international affairs, the most dramatic event during Douglas-Home's premiership was the
assassination of John F. Kennedy John F. Kennedy John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK and the nickname Jack, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from 1961 unt ...
, which happened about a month after the start of his tenure. Douglas-Home broadcast a tribute on television. He had liked and worked well with Kennedy, and did not develop such a satisfactory relationship with
Lyndon Johnson Lyndon Baines Johnson (; August 27, 1908January 22, 1973), often referred to by his initials LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. He had previously served as the 37th vice ...
. Their governments had a serious disagreement on the question of British trade with Cuba. Under Douglas-Home the colonies of
Northern Rhodesia Northern Rhodesia was a British protectorate in southern Africa, south central Africa, now the independent country of Zambia. It was formed in 1911 by Amalgamation (politics), amalgamating the two earlier protectorates of Barotziland-North-West ...
and Nyasaland gained independence, though this was as a result of negotiations led by Macleod under the Macmillan government. In Britain there was economic prosperity; exports "zoomed", according to ''The Times'', and the economy was growing at an annual rate of four per cent. Douglas-Home made no pretence to economic expertise; he commented that his problems were of two sorts: "The political ones are insoluble and the economic ones are incomprehensible." On another occasion he said, "When I have to read economic documents I have to have a box of matches and start moving them into position to simplify and illustrate the points to myself." He left Maudling in charge at the Treasury, and promoted Heath to a new business and economic portfolio. The latter took the lead in the one substantial piece of domestic legislation of Douglas-Home's premiership, the abolition of
resale price maintenance Resale price maintenance (RPM) or, occasionally, retail price maintenance is the practice whereby a manufacturer Manufacturing is the creation or Production (economics), production of goods with the help of equipment, Work (human activity) ...
. The Resale Prices Bill was introduced to deny manufacturers and suppliers the power to stipulate the prices at which their goods must be sold by the retailer. At the time, up to forty per cent of goods sold in Britain were subject to such price fixing, to the detriment of competition and to the disadvantage of the consumer. Douglas-Home, less instinctively liberal on economic matters than Heath, would probably not have sponsored such a proposal unprompted, but he gave Heath his backing, in the face of opposition from some cabinet colleagues, including Butler, Hailsham and Lloyd, and a substantial number of Conservative backbenchers. They believed the change would benefit supermarkets and other large retailers at the expense of proprietors of small shops. The government was forced to make concessions to avoid defeat. Retail price maintenance would continue to be legal for some goods; these included books, on which it remained in force until market forces led to its abandonment in 1995. Manufacturers and suppliers would also be permitted to refuse to supply any retailer who sold their goods at less than cost price, as a
loss leader A loss leader (also leader) is a pricing strategies, pricing strategy where a product is sold at a price below its market cost to stimulate other sales of more profitable goods or services. With this sales promotion/marketing strategy, a "leader" i ...
. The bill had a difficult Parliamentary passage during which the Labour party generally abstained, leaving the Conservatives to vote for or against their own government. The bill received the
royal assent Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature, either directly or through an official acting on the monarch's behalf. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in other ...
in July 1964, but did not become operative until 1965, by which time Douglas-Home, Heath and their colleagues were out of office. A plot to kidnap Douglas-Home in April 1964 was foiled by the Prime Minister himself. Two left-wing students from the
University of Aberdeen The University of Aberdeen ( sco, University o' 'Aiberdeen; abbreviated as ''Aberd.'' in post-nominals; gd, Oilthigh Obar Dheathain) is a public research university in Aberdeen, Scotland. It is an ancient university founded in 1495 when Wil ...
followed him to the house of
John John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) John (; ') is a common male given name in the English language of Hebrew language, Hebrew origin. The name is the English form of ''Iohannes'' and ''Ioannes'', which are the La ...
and Priscilla Buchan, where he was staying. He was alone at the time and answered the door, where the students told him that they planned to kidnap him. He responded, "I suppose you realise if you do, the Conservatives will win the election by 200 or 300." He gave his intending abductors some beer, and they abandoned their plot. The term of the Parliament elected in 1959 was due to expire in October 1964. Parliament was dissolved on 25 September and after three weeks of campaigning the
1964 United Kingdom general election The 1964 United Kingdom general election was held on 15 October 1964, five years after the previous election, and thirteen years after the Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party, first led by Winston Churchill, had regained power. It result ...
took place on 15 October. Douglas-Home's speeches dealt with the future of the nuclear deterrent, while fears of Britain's relative decline in the world, reflected in chronic balance of payment problems, helped the Labour Party's case. The Conservatives under Douglas-Home did much better than widely predicted, but Labour under Wilson won with a narrow majority. Labour won 317 seats, the Conservatives 304 and the Liberals 9.


In Opposition (1964–1970)

As Leader of the Opposition, Douglas-Home persuaded Macleod and Powell to rejoin the Conservative front bench. Within weeks of the general election Butler retired from politics, accepting the post of Master of
Trinity College, Cambridge Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Founded in 1546 by Henry VIII, King Henry VIII, Trinity is one of the largest Cambridge colleges, with the largest financial endowment of any college at either Cambridge ...
together with a life peerage. Douglas-Home did not immediately allocate
shadow A shadow is a dark area where light from a light source is blocked by an opaque object. It occupies all of the three-dimensional volume behind an object with light in front of it. The cross section of a shadow is a two- dimensional silhouet ...
portfolios to his colleagues, but in January 1965 he gave Maudling the foreign affairs brief and Heath became spokesman on Treasury and economic affairs. There was no immediate pressure for Douglas-Home to hand over the leadership to a member of the younger generation, but by early 1965 a new Conservative group called PEST (Pressure for Economic and Social Toryism) had discreetly begun to call for a change. Douglas-Home either did not know, or chose to ignore, the fact that Heath had made a donation to PEST. He decided that the time was coming for him to retire as leader, with Heath as his preferred successor. Determined that the party should abandon the "customary processes of consultation", which had caused such rancour when he was appointed in 1963, Douglas-Home set up an orderly process of secret balloting by Conservative MPs for the election of his immediate and future successors as party leader. In the interests of impartiality the ballot was organised by the 1922 Committee, the backbench Conservative MPs. Douglas-Home announced his resignation as Conservative leader on 22 July 1965. Three candidates stood in the 1965 Conservative Party leadership election: Heath, Maudling and Powell. Heath won with 150 votes (one of them cast by Douglas-Home) to 133 for Maudling and 15 for Powell. Douglas-Home accepted the foreign affairs portfolio in Heath's shadow cabinet. Many expected this to be a short-lived appointment, a prelude to Douglas-Home's retirement from politics. It came at a difficult time in British foreign relations: events in the
self-governing colony In the British Empire, a self-governing colony was a colony with an elected government in which elected rulers were able to make most decisions without referring to the colonial power with nominal control of the colony. This was in contrast to a ...
of
Rhodesia Rhodesia (, ), officially from 1970 the Republic of Rhodesia, was an unrecognised state in Southern Africa from 1965 to 1979, equivalent in territory to modern Zimbabwe. Rhodesia was the ''de facto'' Succession of states, successor state to th ...
(formerly Southern Rhodesia), which had been drifting towards crisis for some years, finally erupted into open rebellion against British sovereignty. The predominantly white minority government there opposed an immediate transfer to black majority rule before the colony had achieved sovereign statehood, and in November 1965 it unilaterally declared independence. Douglas-Home won the approval of left-wing Labour MPs such as Wedgwood Benn for his unwavering opposition to the rebel government, and for ignoring those on the right wing of the Conservative party who sympathised with the rebels on racial grounds. In 1966 Douglas-Home became president of the
Marylebone Cricket Club Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is a cricket club founded in 1787 and based since 1814 at Lord's, Lord's Cricket Ground, which it owns, in St John's Wood, NW postcode area, London. The club was formerly the governing body of cricket retaining cons ...
(MCC), which was then the governing body of English and world cricket. The presidency had generally been a largely ceremonial position, but Douglas-Home became embroiled in two controversies, one of them with international implications. This was the so-called "
D'Oliveira affair The D'Oliveira affair was a prolonged political and sporting controversy relating to the scheduled 1968–69 tour of South Africa by the England cricket team, who were officially representing the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The point of cont ...
", in which the inclusion of a non-white player in the England team to tour South Africa led to the cancellation of the tour by the
apartheid Apartheid (, especially South African English: , ; , "aparthood") was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the So ...
regime in
Pretoria Pretoria () is South Africa's administrative capital, serving as the seat of the Executive (government), executive branch of government, and as the host to all foreign embassies to South Africa. Pretoria straddles the Apies River and extends ...
. In his account of the affair, the political journalist
Peter Oborne Peter Alan Oborne (; born 11 July 1957) is a British journalist and broadcaster. He is the former chief political commentator of '' The Daily Telegraph'', from which he resigned in early 2015. He is author of ''The Rise of Political Lying'', ''T ...
criticises Douglas-Home for his vacillating attitude towards South African Prime Minister John Vorster with whom, says Oborne, "he was no more robust than Chamberlain had been with Hitler thirty years earlier". Douglas-Home's advice to the MCC committee not to press the South Africans for advance assurances on D'Oliveira's acceptability, and his optimistic assurances that all would be well, became a matter of much criticism from a group of MCC members led by the Rev David Sheppard. The second controversy was not one of race but of social class. Brian Close was dropped as England captain in favour of Colin Cowdrey. Close was dropped after using delaying tactics when captaining
Yorkshire Yorkshire ( ; abbreviated Yorks), formally known as the County of York, is a Historic counties of England, historic county in northern England and by far the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its large area in comparison with other Eng ...
in a county match, but the move was widely seen as biased towards cricketers from the old amateur tradition, which had officially ended in 1963. Wilson's small majority after the 1964 general election had made the transaction of government business difficult, and in 1966 he called another election in which Labour gained a strong working majority of 96. Some older members of Heath's team, including Lloyd, retired from the front bench, making room for members of the next generation. Heath moved Maudling to the foreign affairs portfolio, and Douglas-Home took over Lloyd's responsibilities as spokesman on Commonwealth relations. Heath was widely seen as ineffective against Wilson, and as the 1970 general election approached there was concern within the party that he would lose, and that Powell would seek to replace him as leader. Maudling and the chief whip, William Whitelaw, believed that if Heath had to resign Douglas-Home would be the safest candidate to keep Powell out. Douglas-Home shared their view that Labour would win the 1970 election, and that Heath might then have to resign, but he declined to commit himself. To the surprise of almost everyone except Heath, the Conservatives won the election, with a majority of 31 seats. Douglas-Home received an
Honorary Doctorate An honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university (or other degree-awarding institution) has waived all of the usual requirements. It is also known by the Latin phrases ''honoris causa'' ("for the sake of the honour") or ''ad hono ...
from
Heriot-Watt University Heriot-Watt University ( gd, Oilthigh Heriot-Watt) is a Public university, public research university based in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was established in 1821 as the School of Arts of Edinburgh, the world's first mechanics' institute, and subsequ ...
in 1966.


Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary (1970–1974)

Heath invited Douglas-Home to join the cabinet, taking charge of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. In earlier centuries it had not been exceptional for a former prime minister to serve in the cabinet of a successor, and even in the previous fifty years
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930), also known as Lord Balfour, was a British Conservative statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdo ...
, Stanley Baldwin,
Ramsay MacDonald James Ramsay MacDonald (; 12 October 18669 November 1937) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the first who belonged to the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party, leading Minority government, minority Labour ...
and Neville Chamberlain had done so. As of 2021, Douglas-Home is the last former premier to have served under a successor. Of Balfour's appointment to Asquith's cabinet in 1916,
Lord Rosebery Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, 1st Earl of Midlothian, (7 May 1847 – 21 May 1929) was a British Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from March 1894 to June 1895. ...
, who had been prime minister in 1894–95, said that having an ex-premier in the cabinet was "a fleeting and dangerous luxury". Thorpe writes that Heath's appointment of Douglas-Home "was not a luxury but an essential buttress to his administration". The Wilson administration had merged the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office in 1966 into the
Commonwealth Office The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs was a British Cabinet minister responsible for dealing with the United Kingdom's relations with members of the Commonwealth of Nations (its former colonies). The minister's department was the Common ...
, which, two years later, was merged with the Foreign Office, to form the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is a Departments of the Government of the United Kingdom, department of the Government of the United Kingdom. Equivalent to other countries' Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ministries of fore ...
(FCO). Heath appointed Douglas-Home to head the department, with, once again, a second cabinet minister, this time
Anthony Barber Anthony Perrinott Lysberg Barber, Baron Barber, (4 July 1920 – 16 December 2005) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1970 to 1974. After serving in both the Territori ...
, principally responsible, as Heath had been in the 1960s, for negotiations on Britain's joining the EEC. This time, both ministers were in the Commons; Barber's cabinet post was officially
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster The chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is a ministerial office in the Government of the United Kingdom. The position is the second highest ranking minister in the Cabinet Office, immediately after the Prime Minister, and senior to the Minist ...
. Within weeks of the election Barber was moved from the FCO to the Treasury to take over as Chancellor from Iain Macleod, who died suddenly on 20 July. Though they had never enjoyed an easy relationship, Douglas-Home recognised his colleague's stature, and felt his loss politically as well as personally. Some commentators have maintained that Macleod's death and replacement by the less substantial figure of Barber fatally undermined the economic success of the Heath government. Barber was replaced at the FCO by
Geoffrey Rippon Aubrey Geoffrey Frederick Rippon, Baron Rippon of Hexham, PC, QC (28 May 1924 – 28 January 1997) was a British Conservative Party politician. He is most known for drafting the European Communities Act 1972 which took the United Kingdom int ...
, who handled the day-to-day negotiations, under the direction of Heath. Douglas-Home, as before, concentrated on east–west and Commonwealth matters. He was in agreement with Heath's policy on the EEC, and did much to persuade doubters on the right wing of the Conservative party of the desirability of Britain's entry. Hurd writes: In east–west relations, Douglas-Home continued his policy of keeping the Soviet Union at bay. In September 1971, after receiving no satisfactory results from negotiations with Gromyko about the flagrant activities of the
KGB The KGB (russian: links=no, lit=Committee for State Security, Комитет государственной безопасности (КГБ), a=ru-KGB.ogg, p=kəmʲɪˈtʲet ɡəsʊˈdarstvʲɪn(ː)əj bʲɪzɐˈpasnəsʲtʲɪ, Komitet gosud ...
in Britain, he expelled 105 Soviet diplomats for spying. In addition to the furore arising from this, the Soviets felt that the British government's approach to negotiations on détente in Europe was over-cautious, even sceptical. Gromyko was nonetheless realistic enough to maintain a working relationship with the British government. Within days of the expulsions from London he and Douglas-Home met and discussed the Middle East and disarmament. In this sphere of foreign policy, Douglas-Home was widely judged a success. In negotiations on the future of Rhodesia Douglas-Home was less successful. He was instrumental in persuading the rebel leader,
Ian Smith Ian Douglas Smith (8 April 1919 – 20 November 2007) was a Rhodesian politician, farmer, and fighter pilot who served as Prime Minister of Rhodesia, Prime Minister of Rhodesia (known as Southern Rhodesia until October 1964 and now known ...
, to accept proposals for a transition to African majority rule. Douglas-Home set up an independent commission chaired by a senior British judge, Lord Pearce, to investigate how acceptable the proposals were to majority opinion in Rhodesia. After extensive fieldwork throughout Rhodesia, the commission reported, "We are satisfied on our evidence that the proposals are acceptable to the great majority of Europeans. We are equally satisfied ... that the majority of Africans rejected the proposals. In our opinion the people of Rhodesia as a whole do not regard the proposals as acceptable as a basis for independence." To Douglas-Home's disappointment there was no resolution, and Rhodesia remained a rebel regime long after he left office.


Retirement (1974–1995)

At the February 1974 general election the Heath government was narrowly defeated. Douglas-Home, then aged 70, stepped down at the second election of that year, called in October by the minority Labour government in the hope of winning a working majority. He returned to the House of Lords at the end of 1974 when he accepted a
life peer In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It ...
age, becoming known as ''Baron Home of the Hirsel, of
Coldstream Coldstream ( gd, An Sruthan Fuar , sco, Caustrim) is a town and civil parish in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland. A former burgh, Coldstream is the home of the Coldstream Guards, a regiment A regiment is a military unit. It ...
in the County of Berwick''. Between 1977 and 1989 Home was Governor of I Zingari, the nomadic cricket team. In retirement he published three books: ''The Way The Wind Blows'' (1976), described by Hurd as "a good-natured autobiography, with perhaps more anecdotes than insights", ''Border Reflections'' (1979), and his correspondence with his grandson Matthew Darby, ''Letters to a Grandson'' (1983). In the 1980s Home increasingly spent his time in Scotland, with his family. He was a keen fisherman and enjoyed shooting. Hurd writes that "there was no sudden moment when he abandoned politics", rather that "his interventions became fewer and fewer". His last speech in the House of Lords was in 1989, when he spoke against Hurd's proposals for prosecuting war criminals living in Britain: "After such a lapse of time justice might not be seen to be done. It would be dangerous to rely on memories of events that occurred so long ago. It was too late to reopen the issue." His withdrawal from public affairs became more marked after the death of his wife in 1990, after 54 years of marriage.


Personal life

In 1936 Douglas-Home married Elizabeth Alington; her father, Cyril Alington, had been Dunglass's headmaster at Eton, and was from 1933 Dean of Durham. The service was at
Durham Cathedral The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham, commonly known as Durham Cathedral and home of the Shrine of St Cuthbert, is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, Durham, County Durham (district), C ...
, conducted by Alington together with William Temple,
Archbishop of York The archbishop of York is a senior bishop in the Church of England, second only to the archbishop of Canterbury. The archbishop is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of York and the metropolitan bishop of the province of York, which covers the ...
and Hensley Henson,
Bishop of Durham The Bishop of Durham is the Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, esta ...
."Marriages – Lord Dunglass, M.P. and Miss E. H. Alington", ''The Times'', 5 October 1936, p. 15 In addition to the large number of aristocratic guests, the household and estate staffs of the Douglas-Home properties at Douglas Castle and the Hirsel were invited. There were four children of the marriage: Caroline, Meriel, Diana and
David David (; , "beloved one") (traditional spelling), , ''Dāwūd''; grc-koi, Δαυΐδ, Dauíd; la, Davidus, David; gez , ዳዊት, ''Dawit''; xcl, Դաւիթ, ''Dawitʿ''; cu, Давíдъ, ''Davidŭ''; possibly meaning "beloved one". w ...
."Lord Home of the Hirsel – Obituary"
''The Times'', 10 October 1995
The latter was Home's heir, who became the 15th Earl of Home in 1995. Douglas-Home died at the Hirsel in October 1995 when he was 92, four months after the death of his parliamentary opponent
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from October 1964 to June 1970, and again from March 1974 to April 1976. He ...
. Home was buried in Lennel churchyard, Coldstream.


Reputation

Home's premiership was short and not conspicuous for radical innovation. Hurd remarks, "He was not capable of Macmillan's flights of imagination", but he was an effective practical politician. At the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Foreign Office he played an important role in helping to manage Britain's transition from imperial power to European partner. Both Thorpe and Hurd quote a memo that Macmillan wrote in 1963, intended to help the Queen choose his successor: Douglas Hurd, once Home's private secretary, and many years later his successor (after seven intermediate holders of the post) as Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, wrote this personal comment: "The three most courteous men I knew in politics were Lord Home,
King Hussein of Jordan Hussein bin Talal ( ar, الحسين بن طلال, ''Al-Ḥusayn ibn Ṭalāl''; 14 November 1935 – 7 February 1999) was King of Jordan from 11 August 1952 until Death and state funeral of King Hussein, his death in 1999. As a member of the ...
, and President
Nelson Mandela Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (; ; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African Internal resistance to apartheid, anti-apartheid activist who served as the President of South Africa, first president of South Africa from 1994 to 1 ...
. All three had ease of birth, in the sense that they never needed to worry about who they themselves were and so had more time to concern themselves with the feelings of others." Although some in the Conservative party agreed with Wilson (and Jo Grimond, the Liberal leader) that the Conservatives would have won the 1964 election if Butler had been prime minister, ''The Times'' observed, "it should not be overlooked that in October 1963 Home took over a Government whose morale was shattered and whose standing in the opinion polls was abysmal. A year later Labour won the general election, with an overall majority of only four seats. That
ome Ome may refer to: Places * Ome (Bora Bora), a public island in the lagoon of Bora Bora * Ome, Lombardy, Italy, a town and ''comune'' in the Province of Brescia * Ōme, Tokyo, a city in the Prefecture of Tokyo * Ome (crater), a crater on Mars ...
recovered so much ground in so short a time was in itself an achievement." Looking back across Home's career, ''The Times'' considered that his reputation rested not on his brief premiership, but on his two spells as Foreign Secretary: "He brought to the office ... his capacity for straight talking, for toughness towards the Soviet Union and for firmness (sometimes interpreted as a lack of sympathy) towards the countries of Africa and Asia. But he brought something else as well: an unusual degree of international respect."


Cabinet (1963–1964)

The Home cabinet, announced on 20 October 1963, was: * Lord Home (Sir Alec Douglas-Home from 23 October): Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury * R A Butler:
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs The secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs, known as the foreign secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), minister of the Crown of the Government of the United Kingdom and head of the Foreign, Commonwe ...
* Quintin Hogg:
Lord President of the Council The lord president of the Council is the presiding officer of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom The Privy Council (PC), officially His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the sovereign of th ...
and Minister for Science * Lord Dilhorne:
Lord Chancellor The lord chancellor, formally the lord high chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking traditional minister among the Great Officers of State (United Kingdom), Great Officers of State in Scotland and England in the United Kingdom, no ...
*
Reginald Maudling Reginald Maudling (7 March 1917 – 14 February 1979) was a British politician who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1962 to 1964 and as Home Secretary from 1970 to 1972. From 1955 until the late 1960s, he was spoken of as a prospecti ...
:
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of HM Treasury, His Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Great Offices of State, the Ch ...
* Henry Brooke: Secretary of State for the Home Department *
Duncan Sandys Edwin Duncan Sandys, Baron Duncan-Sandys (; 24 January 1908 – 26 November 1987), was a British politician and minister in successive Conservative Party (UK), Conservative governments in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a son-in-law of Winston Chur ...
:
Secretary of State for the Colonies The secretary of state for the colonies or colonial secretary was the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, British Cabinet government minister, minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various British Empire, colonial dependencies. Histor ...
and Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations *
Edward Heath Sir Edward Richard George Heath (9 July 191617 July 2005), often known as Ted Heath, was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1974 and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conserv ...
: Secretary of State for Industry, Trade, and Regional Development and
President of the Board of Trade The president of the Board of Trade is head of the Board of Trade. This is a committee of the His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Privy Council of the United Kingdom, first established as a temporary committee of inquiry in the 17th centu ...
* Peter Thorneycroft:
Minister of Defence A defence minister or minister of defence is a Cabinet (government), cabinet official position in charge of a ministry of defense, which regulates the armed forces in sovereign states. The role of a defence minister varies considerably from coun ...
*
Selwyn Lloyd John Selwyn Brooke Lloyd, Baron Selwyn-Lloyd, (28 July 1904 – 18 May 1978) was a British politician. Born and raised in Cheshire, he was an active Liberal Party (UK), Liberal as a young man in the 1920s. In the following decade, he practised ...
:
Lord Privy Seal The Lord Privy Seal (or, more formally, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal) is the fifth of the Great Officers of State (United Kingdom), Great Officers of State in the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord President of the Council and abov ...
* Lord Blakenham:
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster The chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is a ministerial office in the Government of the United Kingdom. The position is the second highest ranking minister in the Cabinet Office, immediately after the Prime Minister, and senior to the Minist ...
*
Christopher Soames Arthur Christopher John Soames, Baron Soames, (12 October 1920 – 16 September 1987) was a British Conservative politician who served as a European Commissioner A European Commissioner is a member of the 27-member European Commission. Ea ...
:
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was a United Kingdom cabinet position, responsible for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (United Kingdom), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The post was originally named P ...
*
Ernest Marples Alfred Ernest Marples, Baron Marples, (9 December 1907 – 6 July 1978) was a British Conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to p ...
: Minister of Transport * John Boyd-Carpenter:
Chief Secretary to the Treasury The chief secretary to the Treasury is a ministerial office in the government of the United Kingdom. The office is the second most senior in the HM Treasury, Treasury, after the chancellor of the Exchequer. The office was created in 1961, to shar ...
and Paymaster-General * Michael Noble:
Secretary of State for Scotland The secretary of state for Scotland ( gd, Rùnaire Stàite na h-Alba; sco, Secretar o State fir Scotland), also referred to as the Scottish secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the Unit ...
* Sir Edward Boyle: Minister of Education * Joseph Godber:
Minister of Labour Minister of Labour (in British English) or Labor (in American English) is typically a cabinet-level position with portfolio responsibility for setting national labour standards, labour dispute mechanisms, employment, workforce participation, traini ...
* Sir Keith Joseph: Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs * Frederick Erroll: Minister of Power *
Anthony Barber Anthony Perrinott Lysberg Barber, Baron Barber, (4 July 1920 – 16 December 2005) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1970 to 1974. After serving in both the Territori ...
:
Minister of Health A health minister is the member of a country's government typically responsible for protecting and promoting public health and providing welfare and other social security services. Some governments have separate Minister of Mental Health, ministers ...
*
Geoffrey Rippon Aubrey Geoffrey Frederick Rippon, Baron Rippon of Hexham, PC, QC (28 May 1924 – 28 January 1997) was a British Conservative Party politician. He is most known for drafting the European Communities Act 1972 which took the United Kingdom int ...
: Minister of Public Building and Works * W F Deedes:
Minister without Portfolio A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister who does not head a particular ministry. The sinecure A sinecure ( or ; from the Latin , 'without', and , 'care') is an office, carr ...
* Lord Carrington: Minister without Portfolio,
Leader of the House of Lords The leader of the House of Lords is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the senior decision-making body of His Majesty's Government. A committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, ...
;Changes * April 1964: Quintin Hogg became Secretary of State for Education and Science. Sir Edward Boyle left the cabinet. The post of Minister of Defence became
Secretary of State for Defence The secretary of state for defence, also referred to as the defence secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for the business of the Ministry o ...
with Thorneycroft retaining it.


Arms


Notes and references

Notes References


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * * * * *


External links

*
Lord Dunglass (Alec Douglas-Home)
CricketArchive
Prime Ministers in the Post-War world: Alec Douglas-Home
lecture by D. R. Thorpe at
Gresham College Gresham College is an institution of higher learning located at Barnard's Inn Hall off Holborn in Central London, England. It does not enroll students or award degrees. It was founded in 1596 under the will (law), will of Sir Thomas Gresham, an ...
, 24 May 2007 (available for download as an audio or video file) * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Douglas-Home, Alec 1903 births 1995 deaths 20th-century prime ministers of the United Kingdom Alumni of Christ Church, Oxford British Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs British Secretaries of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs British sportsperson-politicians Chairmen of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group Home of the Hirsel, Alec Douglas-Home, Baron Conservative Party prime ministers of the United Kingdom Directors of the Bank of Scotland Earls of Home English cricketers of 1919 to 1945 English cricketers English people of Scottish descent Free Foresters cricketers H. D. G. Leveson Gower's XI cricketers Harlequins cricketers Knights of the Thistle Leaders of the Conservative Party (UK) Leaders of the House of Lords Lord Presidents of the Council Marylebone Cricket Club cricketers Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for Scottish constituencies Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom Members of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group Middlesex cricketers Ministers in the Churchill caretaker government, 1945 Ministers in the Eden government, 1955–1957 Ministers in the third Churchill government, 1951–1955 Oxford University cricketers Parliamentary Private Secretaries to the Prime Minister People associated with Perth and Kinross People educated at Eton College People from Mayfair Politicians awarded knighthoods Presidents of the Marylebone Cricket Club Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom Scottish Conservative Party MPs Scottish Episcopalians UK MPs 1931–1935 UK MPs 1935–1945 UK MPs 1950–1951 UK MPs 1959–1964 UK MPs 1964–1966 UK MPs 1966–1970 UK MPs 1970–1974 UK MPs 1974 Home, E14 UK MPs who were granted peerages Life peers created by Elizabeth II Unionist Party (Scotland) MPs 20th-century British businesspeople Children of peers and peeresses created life peers People educated at Ludgrove School Alec