Stewart, John Allan (1 of 2). The History of Parliament Oral History Project
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Interviewee’s Home, Neilston, Lanarkshire
Stewart, John Allan, 1942-2016 (speaker, male)
Petrie, Malcolm, 1982- (speaker, male)
Part 1: John Allan Stewart [JAS], born St Andrews, 1942. Description of early life in market town of Cupar in Fife. Mentions father absent until 1945 as serving in RAF. Description of happy upbringing and family life. Discusses education; father a teacher at Dundee High School. Discusses memories of specific teachers at secondary school; performance in particular subjects mentioned. Discusses extra-curricular school activities in debating society and rugby team. Discussion of health problems; absent with bronchitis. Description of individual school friends: Derek Barrie, subsequently Chief Executive of the Scottish Liberal Party and Councillor in Fife; John Todd, later a doctor in Edinburgh; Lindsay Gibson. Description of early interest in politics. Comments on the politics of his parents, described as Liberal Unionists; parents not members of a political party. Mentions that interest in politics overlapped with membership of debating society; not a member of a political party at school. [07:17] Description of JAS going to University of St Andrews to study Political Economy in 1960; explanation of choice of degree subject. Description of involvement in student politics; comments on joining Student Representative Council, becomes President of that body 1962-63. Description of joining Liberal Party under the influence of Willis Pickard (later editor of the Times Higher Education Supplement in Scotland). Mentions lack of interest in Conservative politics at University. Description of relation between academic studies in economics and political outlook; influence of classical liberalism. Description of postgraduate scholarship year in the United States at Harvard University between 1964 and 1965. JAS mentions attendance at Barry Goldwater Republican Party rally. Description of ease with which JAS able to find an academic position after completion of studies in 1965. [17:25] Description of academic career as lecturer at University of St Andrews; comments on position as warden in student accommodation. Discussion of academic research in economics. Description of JAS becoming disaffected with Liberal Party. Comments that Douglas Mason [DM], a local Councillor in Glenrothes, Fife, convinced JAS that economic liberals belonged in the Conservative Party. Comments that this argument convinced him to join Conservative Party in 1967. [23:25] Description of taking new position in London as Head of Regional Development at the CBI (Confederation of British Industries). Brief description of parliamentary candidacy in Dundee East in June 1970. Description of career at CBI. Discussion of return to Scotland in 1978. Description of election as local Councillor in the London Borough of Bromley and election campaigning. Comments on learning to use students to distribute leaflets. [28:13] Description of selection process for parliamentary candidacy in Dundee East in 1970. Description of election campaign; comments again on use of students in campaign. Description of selection as Conservative candidate for East Renfrewshire (later Eastwood) at 1979 General Election. Comments on selection process during 1978. Discussion of efforts of Reg Prentice (ex-Labour Party) to secure nomination and resultant media attention. Discussion of relationship with predecessor as MP, Betty Harvie Anderson. Description of constituency party and local politics in East Renfrewshire. [38:26] Description of the 1979 General Election campaign. Comments on dominance of national issues in campaign. Discussion of relationship with constituency party and campaign finance. [43:35] Description of first impressions of the House of Commons and life as an MP. Discussion of importance of having a ‘pair’ for Scottish members; comment on resultant relationship with Norman Hogg, Labour MP for Cumbernauld. Description of other Members of the Common who particularly impressed JAS. Discussion of relationship with MPs from other parties, especially Dennis Canavan, Donald Dewar and Tam Dalyell. Discussion of relationship between MPs from Scotland. [51:50] Description of social life at the House of Commons. Description of the atmosphere in the House of Commons during debates. Description of travel arrangements as a Scottish MP. Discussion of support available for MPs at the House of Commons. Discussion of difficulty in balancing constituency and parliamentary work. Comment that unable to attend constituency party meetings due to parliamentary commitments. Brief discussion of parliamentary committees on which JAS served. Description of constituency work and the difficulties facing MPs. Comment on the use MPs can make of the media. Discussion of broader relationship with the media. Description of importance which JAS attached to speaking in the House of Commons. [1:03:45] Description of the impact that becoming an MP had on family and personal life. Discussion of residence and office arrangements in the Commons and at constituency level. Description of interests and employment outside Parliament during time as an MP. [1:07:46] Description of changing relationship between JAS and constituency party in Eastwood, with particular reference to the impact of disquiet over the issue of local rates. Comment on the role of the press in constituency politics. Description of how JAS organised surgeries in the constituency. Comment on the difficulties that arose. [1:13:54] Description of advice and assistance received by JAS from other MPs. Description of relationship with Conservative Party Whips. Comment on specific incident where JAS voted against the government. Discussion of friendships within the Conservative Party.
Life story interview with Sir John Allan Stewart (1942-2016), economist and former Conservative Member of Parliament.