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George Cunningham (British politician)

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George Cunningham (10 June 1931 – 27 July 2018) was a British politician.[1]

Early lifeEdit

Cunningham was educated at Dunfermline High School, Blackpool Grammar School and the University of Manchester. He worked for the Labour Party as their Commonwealth officer.

Political careerEdit

Cunningham contested Henley at the 1966 general election as the Labour candidate. He was originally elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Islington South West from the 1970 general election. After boundary changes, he was elected for Islington South and Finsbury at the February 1974 election.

Cunningham strongly opposed Scottish devolution. At his prompting, the House accepted an amendment to the 1978 Scotland Act that a majority voting "yes" in the 1979 referendum on establishing a devolved Assembly would have to constitute at least 40 per cent of the Scottish electorate, without which the proposal could be withdrawn and the Act repealed by statutory instrument.[2] As the "yes" vote constituted only 32.9 per cent of the electorate, the Labour government decided it would not proceed with devolution. This prompted the Scottish National Party to withdraw its support for the government, which did not have a majority in the House of Commons.[2] The Conservative opposition then tabled a motion of no confidence, in which the government was defeated by one vote.[2] The Conservatives, who were opposed to devolution, won the subsequent general election and the Scotland Act was repealed in June 1979.[2]

Social Democratic PartyEdit

In November 1981, Cunningham resigned from the Labour Party and sat as an independent Labour MP, before becoming one of the later ex-Labour defectors to the newly founded Social Democratic Party in June 1982. Cunningham lost his seat by just 363 votes (1%) at the 1983 general election to Labour candidate Chris Smith. He contested the seat again at the 1987 general election when he lost by a similarly narrow margin (the only defecting former Labour MP who came close to regaining their seat that year) and would never re-enter the House of Commons.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Remembrance of departed colleagues
  2. ^ a b c d Taylor, Brian. "1979 Remembered". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 4 August 2018.

External linksEdit