George Cunningham
George Cunningham is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...


Cunningham was educated at Dunfermline
Dunfermline is a town and former Royal Burgh in Fife, Scotland, on high ground from the northern shore of the Firth of Forth. According to a 2008 estimate, Dunfermline has a population of 46,430, making it the second-biggest settlement in Fife. Part of the town's name comes from the Gaelic word...

 High School
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

, Blackpool
Blackpool is a borough, seaside town, and unitary authority area of Lancashire, in North West England. It is situated along England's west coast by the Irish Sea, between the Ribble and Wyre estuaries, northwest of Preston, north of Liverpool, and northwest of Manchester...

 Grammar School
Grammar school
A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching classical languages but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school.The original purpose of mediaeval...

 and the University of Manchester
Victoria University of Manchester
The Victoria University of Manchester was a university in Manchester, England. On 1 October 2004 it merged with the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology to form a new entity, "The University of Manchester".-1851 - 1951:The University was founded in 1851 as Owens College,...

. He worked for the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 as Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...


Cunningham contested Henley
Henley (UK Parliament constituency)
Henley is a county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It covers south Oxfordshire, including Henley-on-Thames. The constituency elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election. It has long been a safe Conservative...

 in 1966 as a Labour candidate. He was originally elected as Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 (MP) for Islington South West
Islington South West (UK Parliament constituency)
Islington South West was a Parliamentary constituency in the Metropolitan Borough of Islington, in North London.It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1950 until it was abolished for the February 1974 general election.-Boundaries:-...

 from 1970 to 1974, and after boundary changes that year, he was elected for Islington South and Finsbury.

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 devolution referendum
Scotland referendum, 1979
The Scottish referendum of 1979 was a post-legislative referendum to decide whether there was sufficient support for the Scotland Act 1978 among the Scottish electorate. This was an act to create a devolved deliberative assembly for Scotland...

 would have to constitute at least 40% of the Scottish electorate. As expected, the threshold wasn't achieved. In this sense Cunningham could be said to have brought down his government and ultimately speeded his own political demise.

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
Social Democratic Party (UK)
The Social Democratic Party was a political party in the United Kingdom that was created on 26 March 1981 and existed until 1988. It was founded by four senior Labour Party 'moderates', dubbed the 'Gang of Four': Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams...

 in June 1982. Cunningham lost his seat by just 363 votes (1%) at the 1983 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1983
The 1983 United Kingdom general election was held on 9 June 1983. It gave the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher the most decisive election victory since that of Labour in 1945...

 to Labour candidate Chris Smith
Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury
Christopher "Chris" Robert Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury PC is a British Labour Party politician, and a former Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister...

. He contested the seat again at the 1987 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1987
The United Kingdom general election of 1987 was held on 11 June 1987, to elect 650 members to the British House of Commons. The election was the third consecutive election victory for the Conservative Party under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, who became the first Prime Minister since the 2nd...

 when he lost by a similar narrow margin (the only former Labour defector to come close to regaining his seat that year). He has not re-entered the House of Commons since.

External links

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