Obituary: Sir Anthony Fell

IN 1956, when he was campaigning to succeed Anthony Eden as Conservative Party leader and prime minister, Harold Macmillan showed himself at his most politically adroit. The party - and the country - was still riven by the Suez crisis and its consequences. With a legerdemain which was peculiarly his own, Macmillan managed to persuade most supporters of the war against Egypt, and most opponents of it, that he was on both their sides.

A year later, having procured succession to Eden, he sanctioned the re- opening of the canal under Egyptian ownership. This was too much for eight Conservative backbenchers to bear; they resigned the Conservative whip, and remained in the political wilderness for a full year. Most prominent among them was Anthony Fell, the Member for Yarmouth, in Norfolk.

His prominence was gained by the bellicosity of his utterances, which reflected the pugnacity of his character. He was a man of stout independence of mind; one Conservative whip said that Fell's resignation of the whip really made no difference, since he invariably ignored pleas and threats from the whips' office anyway.

Fell's background before he entered politics was a very varied one. His father had been a Commander in the Royal Navy whose duties took him to New Zealand. Fell was educated there and qualified as an engineer. He also became, for a time, a sheep farmer. During this period he was kicked on the head by a horse. In later years, he liked to display with pride the scar the kick had left and announce, "The damned horse didn't try hard enough." His enemies - and they were legion - declared that the incident merely demonstrated that he had a thick head.

The lure of Britain was strong for Fell and he returned here to work in electronics, but, when he married June Warwick in 1938, they decided to open an art dealer's business. During the Second World War, Fell worked again in electronics, on defence assignments. But he was attracted, above all, by politics.

In 1948 he unsuccessfully contested Brigg, then in Lincolnshire, at a by-election. He was likewise unsuccessful, in 1949 and at the general election of 1950, in South Hammersmith. The belligerence and assiduity of his campaigning style, however, appealed to Tory constituency activists, who liked particularly his wild, but effective, attacks on his opponents. He thus had little difficulty in gaining selection for what he thought of as the family seat of Yarmouth, which had once been held by his grandfather Sir Arthur Fell. Anthony Fell won this seat in 1951, then lost it in the Labour landslide of 1966, but won it again in 1970. He stayed there until his retirement in 1983.

Fell hoped for office but probably realised that his innately rebellious character and inability to curb his tongue ensured that no government would even consider him. Moreover, the causes he espoused were nearly all failures and, worse, were becoming increasingly unfashionable. He never again attracted quite the publicity he achieved over Suez in 1957; but he did play a distinctive part in the defence of white rule in Rhodesia, the upholding of unionism in Ulster and attacks on British membership of the EEC. The trouble was that his colleagues in these various matters never quite trusted him, and found it very hard to work with him.

The late Tory backbencher Neil Marten - the gentlest and kindest of men - described him as "harum-scarum. You never know quite what he will do or say next." In our day politics is pallid and politicians for the most part colourless. One sometimes yearns for larger-than-life figures like Anthony Fell.

Anthony Fell, politician: born 18 May 1914; MP (Conservative) for Yarmouth 1951-66, 1970-83; Kt 1982; married 1938 June Warwick (one son, one daughter); died 20 March 1998.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone