Alec Douglas-Home is notable for being the last Prime Minister to hold office while being a member of the House of Lords, before renouncing his peerage and taking up a seat in the House of Commons for the remainder of his premiership.
49 Facts About Alec Douglas-Home
Alec Douglas-Home's reputation rests more on his two stints as Foreign Secretary than on his brief premiership.
Alec Douglas-Home 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.
Alec Douglas-Home 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.
Alec Douglas-Home was born on 2 July 1903 at 28 South Street in Mayfair, London, the first of seven children of Lord Dunglass and of his wife, the Lady Lilian Lambton.
In 1918 the 12th Earl of Home died; Dunglass succeeded him in the earldom, and the courtesy title passed to his son, Alec Douglas-Home, who was styled Lord Dunglass until 1951.
Alec Douglas-Home had not joined the Oxford Union as budding politicians usually did.
Alec Douglas-Home's political thinking was influenced by that of Noel Skelton, a member of the Unionist party.
Alec Douglas-Home shared Skelton's view that "what everybody owns nobody owns".
Alec Douglas-Home made his maiden speech in February 1932 on the subject of economic policy, advocating a cautiously protectionist approach to cheap imports.
Alec Douglas-Home accepted the non-departmental post of Lord President of the Council 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.
Alec Douglas-Home was encased in plaster and kept flat on his back for most of that period.
Alec Douglas-Home foresaw a post-imperial future for Britain and emphasised the need for strong European ties after the war.
Alec Douglas-Home 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.
Alec Douglas-Home got on well with his American and Soviet counterparts, Rusk and Andrei Gromyko.
Alec Douglas-Home let it be known that if he recovered he would be willing to serve as a member of a Home cabinet.
Alec Douglas-Home 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.
Alec Douglas-Home is playing chess with a Cabinet containing at least four members of greater stature, brain-power, personality and potential than himself.
Alec Douglas-Home 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 safe Unionist seat of Kinross and West Perthshire was vacant, and Alec Douglas-Home was adopted as his party's candidate.
For twenty days Alec Douglas-Home was Prime Minister while a member of neither house of Parliament, a situation without modern precedent.
Alec Douglas-Home won the by-election with a majority of 9,328; the Liberal candidate was in second place and Labour in third.
Alec Douglas-Home asserted that nobody from Douglas-Home's background knew of the problems of ordinary families.
Unlike Wilson, Alec Douglas-Home was not at ease on television, and came across as less spontaneous than his opponent.
Alec Douglas-Home had liked and worked well with Kennedy, and did not develop such a satisfactory relationship with Lyndon Johnson.
Alec Douglas-Home was alone at the time and answered the door, where the students told him that they planned to kidnap him.
Alec 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 Alec Douglas-Home did much better than widely predicted, but Labour under Wilson won with a narrow majority.
Alec Douglas-Home did not immediately allocate shadow portfolios to his colleagues, but in January 1965 he gave Maudling the foreign affairs brief and Heath became spokesman on Treasury and economic affairs.
Alec Douglas-Home either did not know, or chose to ignore, the fact that Heath had made a donation to PEST.
Alec Douglas-Home decided that the time was coming for him to retire as leader, with Heath as his preferred successor.
Alec Douglas-Home announced his resignation as Conservative leader on 22 July 1965.
Alec Douglas-Home accepted the foreign affairs portfolio in Heath's shadow cabinet.
Alec 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 Alec Douglas-Home became president of the Marylebone Cricket Club, which was then the governing body of English and world cricket.
The presidency had generally been a largely ceremonial position, but Alec Douglas-Home became embroiled in two controversies, one of them with international implications.
Heath moved Maudling to the foreign affairs portfolio, and Alec Douglas-Home took over Lloyd's responsibilities as spokesman on Commonwealth relations.
Alec 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.
Alec Douglas-Home received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1966.
Heath invited Alec Douglas-Home to join the cabinet, taking charge of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
Thorpe writes that Heath's appointment of Alec Douglas-Home "was not a luxury but an essential buttress to his administration".
Alec Douglas-Home 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.
In negotiations on the future of Rhodesia Alec Douglas-Home was less successful.
Alec Douglas-Home was instrumental in persuading the rebel leader, Ian Smith, to accept proposals for a transition to African majority rule.
Alec 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.
Alec Douglas-Home returned to the House of Lords at the end of 1974 when he accepted a life peerage, becoming known as Baron Home of the Hirsel, of Coldstream in the County of Berwick.
In 1936 Alec Douglas-Home married Elizabeth Alington; her father, Cyril Alington, had been Dunglass's headmaster at Eton, and was from 1933 Dean of Durham.
Alec Douglas-Home died at the Hirsel in October 1995 when he was 92, four months after the death of his parliamentary opponent Harold Wilson.
Alec Douglas-Home gives that impression by a curious mixture of great courtesy, and even if yielding to pressure, with underlying rigidity on matters of principle.