Monday, January 01, 2018

James Davidson 1927-2017

At the time of his death last summer, James Davidson was the oldest surviving Liberal MP. Yet few Lib Dem members my age or younger knew anything about him.

Which was a shame, because he lived a remarkable life.

Davidson, who represented West Aberdeenshire between 1966 and 1970, is profiled in a BBC News feature on MPs who died in 2017.

And that feature refers us to his Scotsman obituary, where you can read more about him:
As he once observed, with a considerable degree of understatement, life is full of surprises – none more so than finding yourself on the wrong end of a Kalashnikov, dancing with the Queen and two princesses or being mooted as a potential leader of the Liberal Party. 
For James Davidson the first came courtesy of a period in Moscow at the height of the Cold War, by which time he had already served King George VI and family as a naval officer, the latter followed his election as MP for West Aberdeenshire. 
In a brilliantly multi-faceted life he also became a hill farmer, television presenter, organiser of Scotland’s premier agricultural event The Royal Highland Show, climbed the Eiger and was a single parent to three young children.
It goes on tell us more about his days in Moscow:
The handsome 25-year-old lived in a dacha in the Perlovka forest, constantly tailed and in the glare of anti-Western propaganda. His encounter with a Kalashnikov-toting soldier came one Sunday afternoon when, during a forest walk, he was held at gunpoint until 3am, accused of entering an unmarked forbidden zone and of being an “unacceptable” person. 
In Russia he saw Stalin both alive and lying in state, travelled widely taking discreet photos, including images of submarine construction on the Volga, and married Kit Jamieson, the beautiful secretary to the Canadian Chargé d’Affaires. In 1954 they were the first westerners since the Second World War to leave the Soviet Union via the Trans-Siberian Railway and Nakhodka, shadowed incessantly by an operative from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

1 comment:

Mark Pack said...

Quite the remarkable person! There'd be a great blog series to do one day about him and other forgotten future party leaders, I suspect.