'Do not worry, all will be well'

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The Independent Online
If Alec Home had any enemies, they would be extremely hard to find, writes Viscount Whitelaw. He had a quality of always appearing just the same: simple, straightforward, totally honest, and behind it all, full of good fun. He was able to enjoy success and happiness while bearing rebuff and sadness with amazing fortitude.

Home's good understanding and calmness very nearly gave the Conservative Party an amazing victory in the 1964 election, and they were defeated only narrowly. His course in defeat again proved all his best qualities. There were those in the party who believed that a new leadership was necessary, and strong pressure was applied against him. Many MPs did not wish him to go, and this was a tense time. At one moment, with a difficult meeting in prospect, he said: ''Do not worry, all will be well.'' Thanks to him, it was. His dignity and good-humour at a time of disappointment were remarkable.

The same qualities ensured his happiness in his home life. He had a perfect marriage with Elizabeth for 54 years, with a family of three daughters and a son, numerous grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. He might have been shattered by the death of Elizabeth, in 1990, but again his character showed through; he managed to appear always just himself.

Alec Home loved the countryside, his garden and all flowers. He was also most knowledgeable about birds. He was a great sportsman: a first-class shot and fisherman. He knew much about racing and discussed nearly every day on the telephone the form of the horses with his late brother William, the playwright.

Those who knew him will remember him at home, reading his cabinet papers or preparing a speech, with grandchildren playing all around him, or striding across the moor, outstripping people many years his junior.