Ronnie Fraser

Thomas Ronald Leslie Fraser (3 February 1929 – 4 March 2010) was a Scottish writer, broadcaster and Liberal Party politician.[1] He was notable for standing as a candidate for the United Kingdom parliament, even though he was too young to be eligible to vote.

Ronnie Fraser
Ronnie Fraser

Background

Fraser was educated at McLaren High School,[2] Strathallan School, Perthshire and the University of Glasgow, graduating with a degree in agriculture.[1]

Professional career

After graduation Fraser was appointed assistant lecturer in agricultural economics at Durham University.[1] This was followed by three years in London, where he conducted research into agriculture, on the staff of the United States Embassy.[1]

In 1960, Fraser was appointed editor of Farming News, where he worked for ten years, before it merged with The Scottish Farmer.[1][3] He then worked freelance for various agricultural papers and trade magazines, and also the BBC.[1]

Fraser was a member of the Trades House of Glasgow and served as Deacon of the Incorporation of Cordiners from 1969 to 1970.[1] He was also chairman of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists.[4]

Political career

Fraser got involved in politics at University and was assistant secretary of Glasgow University Liberal Club.[5] In 1950, while still studying at university, he stood as the Scottish Liberal Party candidate in the United Kingdom general election, 1950 for the Glasgow Govan. Having only just celebrated his 21st birthday, Fraser was the youngest of the 475 Liberal candidates standing,[5] and was the youngest candidate in the election.[6] He legitimately stood as a candidate even though he was actually too young to vote.[7] In 1918 the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 1918 allowed for people aged 21 to stand as candidates. Young people only had their name added to the electoral register once they had become 21 and electoral registers were only published once a year in February. The 1950 General Election was fought on the 1949/50 register on which his name was not included because he was too young. Subsequent electoral registration practices changed to include people coming of age during the life of the register.[8] His candidacy was not a success and he finished third out of four candidates. After the election he became president of Glasgow University Liberal Club, serving from 1950 to 1951.[9] He did not contest the 1951 General Election.

As a Liberal, Fraser supported Scottish Home Rule and was a supporter of the Scottish Covenant Association. The greatest coup of the Covenant Association was the removal of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey by four of their members (Ian Hamilton, Kay Matheson, Gavin Vernon and Alan Stuart) over Christmas in 1950. This famous act attracted huge publicity for the cause of Scottish home rule. Fraser's parents house in Carlisle, where he was staying, was used as a base for some of those organising the transport of the stone across the border into Scotland.[1]

Fraser was chairman of the Scottish League of Young Liberals.[9] He was elected president of the Glasgow University Union for the 1952–53 academic year.[1] Once again, he stood as Liberal candidate at the 1955 General Election but this time at the more promising seat of West Aberdeenshire. However, in a difficult election for the Liberal party, he finished third. He did not contest any of the next three general elections. In 1970 he was again Liberal candidate, this time for Banffshire. He again finished third, narrowly behind the SNP candidate. He fought Banff again at the February 1974 election without improving his position. After this he did not stand for parliament again.[10]

Fraser was the founder and first chairman of the Scottish branch of Liberal International.[11] In 2008 he was elected president of the Argyll and Bute Scottish Liberal Democrats.[1]

Electoral record

General Election 1950: Glasgow Govan[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Jack Browne 19,267 46.6
Labour J Davis 18,894 45.7
Liberal Thomas Ronald Leslie Fraser 1,628 3.9
Communist W Laughlan 1,547 3.8
Majority 373 0.9
Turnout 84.0
Unionist gain from Labour Swing
General Election 1955: West Aberdeenshire[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Henry Reginald Spence 20,216 59.1
Labour Miss Mary MacNeil 9,288 27.1
Liberal Thomas Ronald Leslie Fraser 4,705 13.8
Majority 10,928 31.9
Turnout 34,209 72.6
Unionist hold Swing
General Election 1970: Banffshire[14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Wilfred Baker 8,457 38.71
SNP Hamish Watt 5,006 22.91
Liberal Thomas Ronald Leslie Fraser 4,589 21.01
Labour A.F. Walls 3,795 17.37
Majority 3,451 15.80
Conservative hold Swing
General Election February 1974: Banffshire
Party Candidate Votes % ±
SNP Hamish Watt 11,037 46.1
Conservative Wilfred Baker 8,252 34.5
Liberal Thomas Ronald Leslie Fraser 3,121 13.0
Labour R Dool 1,528 6.4
Majority 2,785 11.6
Turnout 75.7
SNP gain from Conservative Swing

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Ronnie Fraser; Journalist and politician". The Herald. 17 May 2010. p. 21. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  2. ^ The Times House of Commons 1970
  3. ^ Angus Macdonald (1993). "The Scottish Farmer One Hundred Years" (PDF). Outram Magazines. pp. 38–39. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Former chairman's generous legacy". Guild of Agricultural Journalists. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  5. ^ a b Who's Who of 475 Liberal Candidates fighting the 1950 General Election
  6. ^ "Liberals announce more candidates". The Herald. 10 February 1950. p. 5. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  7. ^ The Times House of Commons 1950
  8. ^ PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES AND THEIR REGISTERS SINCE 1832, The British Library
  9. ^ a b The Times House of Commons 1955
  10. ^ British parliamentary election results 1974–1983, Craig, F.W.S.
  11. ^ "Ronnie Fraser" (PDF). Journal of the Liberal International British Group. September 2010. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-02-24. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  12. ^ Whitaker's Almanack, 1950
  13. ^ The Times House of Commons, 1955
  14. ^ The Times House of Commons, 1970

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