Ian MacArthur: Effective Scottish Unionist MP

Ian MacArthur, politician: born 17 May 1925; MP (Scottish Unionist, then Conservative) for Perth and East Perthshire 1959-74; an Assistant Government Whip 1962-63, Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and Government Scottish Whip 1963-64; director, British Textile Confederation 1977-89; OBE 1988; married 1957 Judith Miller (four sons, three daughters); died Richmond upon Thames, Surrey 30 November 2007

Ian MacArthur was one of the more effective leaders of Scottish Unionism, although in a period when the party was in slow decline. Elected to Parliament as the Member for Perth and East Perthshire in 1959, MacArthur was appointed an assistant whip in 1962 and promoted to be a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and Scottish Whip in December 1963.

He continued to serve as Scottish Whip when the Conservative Party went into opposition (by which time the Unionists had come under the control of the UK party), but in October 1965 was made one of the front-bench spokesmen on Scottish matters. Overlooked when Edward Heath was constructing his government after the Conservative's election victory in 1970, MacArthur was made vice-chairman of the Conservative Party in Scotland two years later, a post he held until 1975.

The party had already lost ground to the Liberals and they now struggled to contain Scottish Nationalism. MacArthur had been a proponent of the reforms that broke the power of the old East and West divisional councils and led to the creation of the Scottish Central Office in 1965, but although further reorganisation was carried through, the party lost further seats to the Nationalists, one of them MacArthur's own, in February and October 1974. Gains elsewhere were only partial compensation.

MacArthur steered four Private Member's Bills onto the statute book, the most notable being the Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act (1973), which, in Lord Denning's words, abolished "the last barbarous relic of a wife's servitude". Until that point a woman separated from her husband was treated as having her legal domicile with him still. The remaining bills concerned themselves with the payment of damages and with social work in Scotland

MacArthur was the younger son of Lt-Gen Sir William MacArthur, and was educated at Cheltenham College. Joining the Navy as an ordinary seaman in 1942, he was commissioned and saw active service with destroyers in the Mediterranean. To the end of his life he suffered from deafness in his left ear as a result of bombardments during the Italian campaign. After the war he served as flag lieutenant to C-in-C Portsmouth (a role which, he later said, involved making himself invisible and saluting a lot).

Demobilised in 1946, he took up his scholarship at the Queen's College, Oxford, to study Modern Languages, but joined J. Walter Thompson, one of the major advertising agencies, in 1947, rising to become director of administration. He retained his connection with the firm as an associate director, apart from his time as an MP. He was elected an honorary member of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in 1963.

However, his real passion was for politics and he was elected to the Young Conservatives National Advisory Committee in 1951 and the Conservative Party's National Advisory Committee on Political Education in 1955. He fought Greenock in the 1955 general election, cutting the Labour majority to 1,033 and was disappointed to see that extended to 2,694 in the by-election which followed in December that year. His reward for coming so close to capturing a Labour stronghold was selection for the safe seat of Perth and East Perthshire.

He took the seat with a majority of 14,580 in the 1959 general election and held it at four general elections. When Sir Alec Douglas-Home became leader of the Conservative Party in 1963, MacArthur was chosen to be his aide in the by-election that returned Douglas-Home to the House of Commons. During his time in Parliament he served on the Speaker's Conference on Electoral Law, on the Scottish Select Committee, and on the committee to scrutinise European legislation. He also chaired the Scottish Conservative Members' Group 1972-73. While MacArthur was re-elected in the February 1974 general election with the still comfortable majority of 8,975, he fell victim to the Scottish Nationalists in October, losing by 793 votes.

After his defeat, he did not long remain in party politics, but became the director of the British Textile Federation in 1977. He retired the following year.

A fluent French linguist and lifelong Francophile, MacArthur was also a fine musician. As a young man he had sung French songs in a number of nightclubs, accompanying himself on the piano, and his performances were good enough to earn him a recording opportunity. He made two records.

John Barnes

News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
Floyd
newsFloyd 'Creeky' Creekmore still performed regularly to raise money for local hospitals
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Real Estate Solicitor 2+PQE - City

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGH VALUE REAL ESTATE / RESID...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Are you looking for part time/ ...

SEN (SLD/PMLD) Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?