The oratory of Iain Macleod
in Conservative orators from Baldwin to Cameron
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Iain Macleod has been a hero to many representatives of the Conservative Party’s ‘One Nation’ tradition. In part, this is because of his death at the age of 56, soon after reaching the pinnacle of his career as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The sense of promise unfulfilled is reinforced by the fact that, unlike so many senior figures on the Tory ‘left’, he was unsullied either by the failures of the Heath Government or the ‘wet’ resistance to Margaret Thatcher. Although Macleod was a notable minister under Churchill, Eden and Macmillan, his glamorous posthumous image derives mainly from his reputation as an orator. Indeed, his ministerial career began as a direct result of a single speech – a witty and well-informed attack on Nye Bevan in March 1952, which Churchill heard with admiration. He continued to be a feared parliamentary debater, known for his acidic wit. As party chairman (1961-3) he could be relied upon to cheer the grassroots with incisive attacks on Labour. He was also an able communicator with the voters, in campaign speeches or on television.


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