Campbell, Sir Menzies


Campbell, Sir Menzies
▪ 2007
 Sir Menzies Campbell became leader of the United Kingdom's Liberal Democratic Party on March 2, 2006. He took the helm of the smallest of the U.K.'s three main nationwide parties at an awkward time, succeeding Charles Kennedy, a much younger and widely liked leader who had resigned under pressure following an admission, prompted by media investigations, that he was an alcoholic. Campbell became acting leader immediately upon Kennedy's sudden resignation on January 7; his position was made permanent following a seven-week leadership campaign. Campbell was the oldest, most “establishment” of the three candidates, and in the final ballot of party members, his experience proved more attractive than the radicalism of his rivals, 54-year-old party president Simon Hughes and economics spokesman Chris Huhne, age 51.

      Campbell was born in Glasgow, Scot., on May 22, 1941, and was generally known as Ming, a nickname derived from his Scottish forename, Menzies (traditionally pronounced “Mingiss”). As a young man he was one of Britain's fastest sprinters. He competed in the 1964 Olympic Games as well as the 1966 Commonwealth Games, and from 1967 until 1974 he held the national 100-m record.

      Campbell studied law at the University of Glasgow (M.A., 1962; L.L.B., 1965) and international law at Stanford University (1966–67). He was called to the bar in 1968 and advanced to queen's counsel in 1982. While a student he became fast friends with the future national Labour Party leader John Smith as well as Donald Dewar, the first of Scotland's first ministers. Unlike Smith and Dewar, Campbell joined the Scottish Liberal Party, rising to become chairman in 1975 at the age of 34. He had to wait longer to realize his ambition of entering Parliament, but on his fourth attempt, in 1987, he was elected MP for North East Fife, north of Edinburgh.

      Campbell established himself as an articulate and well-informed specialist on defense and foreign affairs. He became his party's chief spokesman on these issues, despite having received treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma—a form of cancer from which he eventually fully recovered. He was a prominent critic of the decision by Prime Minister Tony Blair to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. That same year Campbell became deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats. In 2004 he was knighted “for services to Parliament.” Because of his alcoholism Kennedy became unable to fulfill his duties at increasingly regular intervals, and Campbell frequently had to stand in for him. Behind the scenes Campbell became one of Kennedy's critics, but he never displayed any dissent in public.

      Although widely respected by MPs of all parties, Campbell initially had a difficult time as the Liberal Democratic leader. In his most high-profile parliamentary role—putting questions to the prime minister each Wednesday in the House of Commons—his early performances were often hesitant and ineffective. In May 2006 local elections, however, the Liberals, with 25% of the vote, had a good showing, well behind the Conservatives (39%) but close to Blair's ruling Labour Party (26%).

Peter Kellner

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Menzies Campbell — Menzies Campbell. Sir Walter Menzies Campbell (kurz Ming Campbell; * 22. Mai 1941 in Glasgow), CBE, QC, ist ein schottischer Abgeordneter des britischen Unterhauses und war von März 2006 bis Oktober 2007 Vorsitzender …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Ming Campbell — Menzies Campbell. Sir Walter Menzies Campbell (kurz Ming Campbell; * 22. Mai 1941 in Glasgow), CBE, QC, ist ein schottischer Abgeordneter des britischen Unterhauses und war von März 2006 bis Oktober 2 …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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