Friday, March 10, 2006

John Profumo dies

Former MP and Cabinet Minister John Profumo has died. Profumo is sadly best remembered for a scandal in 1963 that led to his resignation from politics and perhaps the downfall of Harold Macmillan's government. But he also held several other distinctions.

Following his disgrace Profumo went to Toynbee Hall in the East End and worked as a volunteer there for over forty years, and is remembered with strong affection. But Profumo is also notable for the very beginning of his political career.

In April 1940 Profumo entered the House of Commons at the age of 25, becoming the youngest MP (the "Baby of the House"). Incidentally until his death he was the surviving former MP who had entered the House the earliest, perhaps best described as the "Grandfather of the House". (The title now passes to the former Common Wealth then Labour MP Ernest Millington, the only MP elected before the 1945 election who is still alive.)

It was in May 1940 that Profumo first made his mark when he was one of the MPs who voted against Neville Chamberlain's government in the famous Norway Debate of May 7 & 8. Two days later Chamberlain resigned and Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. A few years ago, on the sixty-third anniversary of the rebellion, Profumo was hailed for his actions by current MPs, including Churchill's grandson. With Profumo's death a political era has now passed.

1 comment:

Paul Burgin said...

I read about Profumo's actions in 1940. I think it's the only time in the history of the Commons, well recent history, where the actions of backbench rebels has since won plaudits from all sides of the House of Commons. Profumo may have committed an act of great folly but he had much in his life to be proud of!


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