Fry, Peter (1 of 4). The History of Parliament Oral History Project
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Interviewee’s home, Northamptonshire
Fry, Peter, 1931-2015 (speaker, male)
Wilkins, Jessica (speaker, female)
Part 1: Sir Peter Fry [PF], born in High Wycombe, 1931. Comments on how his parents moved from Liberal party to Conservatives, like a lot of prominent liberals and people from middle and lower middle classes. His father was elected Councillor in 1945 as an independent. PF’s father was made the Chairman of the Housing Committee and was responsible for the construction of council houses during 1945-1950. Story about people queuing outside his house for housing. [01:50] Description of the first political meeting PF attended at the age of 14. His brother in law took him to a Labour party meeting. PF admits he was quite strong Labour. Disappointed with the Labour party when they decided people could not take money to other countries as a tourist. [04:00] Comments on 1950 election and how this was the last time his mother worked for Liberal candidates. Only a rump of the Liberal party was left after the election and his father moved to a different ward. [05:25] Story about the agent for the constituency asking PF to join the committee after he had come down from university, at age 23, to help his father. PF helped in the county council election and in the next election he was himself the candidate. He didn’t expect to win, but did. He received a lot of votes from young people who had recently moved to the constituency. [07:43] In the County Council PF became the whip, the Secretary of the Conservative anti Labour group. At that time there were several Lords on the Council. [08:25] Comments about the decision of the Labour party to end the Grammar Schools. He proposed to the Education Committee of the Buckinghamshire Council that it exclude the existing selective schools from this measure. [11:07] Description of how the grammar school he attended had students from mixed backgrounds. [12:12] Comments on how the Conservative party fought for the grammar schools. [13:07] In 1951 PF went to Oxford after two years of National Service. In Oxford he joined both the Liberals and the Conservatives. Joined the Oxford Union. Story about Michael Heseltine being one of the brightest members in the Union. Mentions college life in Oxford and how it contributed to his interest in politics. [18:26] Mentions Rupert Murdoch who used to live underneath him in the college and was at that time member of the Labour party. [20:44] Comments on PF’s mother and how she was involved in political meetings and campaigns. Politics was a subject frequently discussed in PF’s house with the whole family. Mentions that in this period elections were interesting and the local town hall at High Wycombe was full every night for political meetings. Went with a friend to these; thought the conservative candidate, William Waldorf Astor, was very unsuitable for the constituency. [25:50] Comments on how politics was more lively in the those days and how people got involved in the debates and activities much more than today. PF mentions that the way national elections are run now takes away from the local constituency some of the strength it used to have. [28:11] Describes High Wycombe and local politics. [30:00] Mentions local philanthropist and businessman who turned out to be fraudulent. Refers to Jack Good(?), very popular member of the local council. [31:35] Mentions his history master, Mr. Cave, as an inspiration as a teacher. PF considers him the person who influenced him more than anyone else. [33:43] Comments on how he was attracted to the Labour party in the beginning because of his reading about British History during 19th century and early 20th. But he was disappointed with the way the party conducted politics when was in the power.
Life story interview with Sir Peter Fry (1931-2015), former Conservative Member of Parliament.