Obituary: Lord Fraser of Kilmorack

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The Independent Online
Michael Fraser served the Conservative Party with devotion and belief to the end of his days, most recently as President of the Coningsby Club, a position from which he retired only a year ago, at the time of his 80th birthday, writes Humphrey Crum Ewing [further to the obituary by Patrick Cosgrave, 4 July].

It is perhaps inevitable that his prominent work for the main organisation of the party, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, should have come to overlay in political recollection the more important and influential work which he did at the head of the then distinct Conservative Research Department in the late 1940s, through the 1950s and the earlier 1960s. It is not too much to say that, over those years, he was the executive who translated Rab Butler's ideas and beliefs into practical, substantiated policies, leading to the Conservative victories of 1951 and 1955; who gave the real intellectual impetus to the extraordinary revival of the party's fortunes under the leadership of Harold Macmillan between the debacle of Suez in 1956 and the triumph of the 1959 general election and who nearly carried Alec Douglas-Home to victory in 1964.

Michael Fraser achieved his results by his insistence that the product of the Research Department must always be scrupulously prepared and should provide solid, unquestionable, evidence on which to build the political case. It was the job of the department, he believed, to establish as accurately as possible what the full facts were, not to propagate partisan half-truths or to cook up selective arguments to give a touch of verisimilitude to campaigns thought up by advertising agencies.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to know him then, and to benefit from his precepts and example, are entitled to assert that the political process - in which Michael Fraser had such a profound belief - would stand far higher in the public regard today if the Conservative Party had not forsaken, in the 1980s and the 1990s, his rigorously applied distinction between facts and propaganda.