The story of Burke, Blair and elec­tion

From philoso­pher/ par­lia­men­tar­ian Ed­mund to a pretty straight sort of guy called Tony, politi­cians of all hues have played a role in Bea­cons­field, as his­to­rian Don­ald Stan­ley re­veals

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLE AND PLACES -

WHEN the vot­ers of Bea­cons­field go to the polls to­day in the 2015 Gen­eral Elec­tion they will be ac­com­pa­nied, in spirit, by three for­mer Prime Min­is­ters.

Although one, the Con­ser­va­tive Benjamin Dis­raeli who was re­puted to be Queen Vic­to­ria’s favourite, never lived in the town, in 1876 he took the ti­tles 1st Earl of Bea­cons­field and Vis­count Hugh­en­den.

It is be­lieved that he chose Bea­cons­field as a trib­ute to the po­lit­i­cal philoso­pher and par­lia­men­tar­ian Ed­mund Burke. Although Burke lived in the town and is buried in the parish church of St Mary’s, in 1794 he de­clined King Ge­orge III’s of­fer to raise him to the peer­age as Lord Bea­cons­field.

Hugh­en­den Manor, near High Wy­combe, was Dis­raeli’s home from 1848 to 1881. It is now a Na­tional Trust prop­erty.

De­spite be­ing re­garded as the safest Con­ser­va­tive seat, Bea­cons­field has close as­so­ci­a­tions with two for­mer Labour Prime Min­is­ters and the fam­ily of a third.

The death in 1982 of the sit­ting mem­ber, Sir Ron­ald Bell, led to a by-elec­tion in which the Labour can­di­date was the 29-year-old Tony Blair.

Un­de­terred by for­feit­ing his de­posit as the 3,886 votes cast for him, com­pared to the 23,049 re­ceived by his suc­cess­ful Con­ser­va­tive op­po­nent, fell be­low the thresh­old to re­tain it and halved his party’s vote, he went on to be more suc­cess­ful the fol­low­ing year when he was re­turned for the newly cre­ated con­stituency of Sedge­field in County Durham which he rep­re­sented un­til re­tir­ing in 2007.

Sarah, the last Labour Prime Min­is­ter’s wife, was born Sarah Jane Ma­caulay in Bea­cons­field in 1963. She mar­ried Gor­don Brown in a pri­vate cer­e­mony in Fife in 2000.

Felic­ity, one of three daugh­ters of Cle­ment At­tlee – who served as Labour Prime Min­is­ter from 1945 to 1951 – lived for many years in the town with her hus­band and chil­dren.

At one time their neigh­bour was the chil­dren’s au­thor, Enid Bly­ton. A teacher by pro­fes­sion Felic­ity was head­mistress of a lo­cal school. One of her daugh­ters served as town mayor.

When Felic­ity’s fa­ther re­tired he took his seat in the House of Lords as Earl At­tlee and, in hon­our of the Buck­ing­hamshire vil­lage near High Wy­combe where he lived, the sub­sidiary ti­tle Vis­count Prest­wood.

Tony Blair can­vass­ing in Bea­cons­field for the Labour Party dur­ing May 1982, and be­low talk­ing to a lo­cal res­i­dent

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