MP RISKED HIS CAREER TO STOP NUCLEAR THREAT
PUBLISHED: 18:27 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:53 23 August 2010
AN MP who quit more than 50 years ago in protest over the issue of nuclear arms was putting his career at far greater risk than Tory MP David Davis, according to an historian. Sir Richard Acland, former MP for Gravesend, eventually lost his seat after he
AN MP who quit more than 50 years ago in protest over the issue of nuclear arms was putting his career at far greater risk than Tory MP David Davis, according to an historian.
Sir Richard Acland, former MP for Gravesend, eventually lost his seat after he quit as Labour MP in 1955.
He was protesting against his party's support for the Conservative government's nuclear defence policy.
Now, 53 years later, Shadow Home Secretary David Davis has resigned after the government voted for holding terror suspects for 42 days without charge.
His resignation last Thursday will force a by-election where he will campaign against what he calls "the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this government."
But historian Tony Larkin, 69, of Constitution Hill, Gravesend, who was 17 at time of Acland's protest, said he took more of a risk than Davis.
Mr Larkin said: "When he decided to stand as an independent in protest over the nuclear armament he was putting himself at great risk, it was always unlikely that he would get back in.
"He really did put his reputation on the line, not like David Davis, who will no doubt get re-elected."
He added: "Whether or not to take up nuclear arms was an important issue of the day.
"The Conservative government and the Labour party supported it, but Acland was against it, and he made a stand.
"He was a wonderful man, an honest man. I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times. He was a very popular MP in Gravesend."
Sir Acland was first elected in 1947, beating the Conservative candidate by 1,675 votes, with 24,692.
He stood down in 1955 but instead of a by-election taking place, a general election was called by the government. He stood as an independent candidate campaigning against the take up of nuclear arms, but received just 562 votes.
The Conservative candidate took the seat with 22,058. The new Labour candidate got 19,149 votes.
Sir Acland didn't stand as an MP again, and two years later, he helped found the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He died in 1990.