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Lord Longford     " ..... gives me the fucking horn."

Lord Longford

"I reckon it's the way he does his hair, you know, ..... "


Frank Longford is born in 1905, the second son of Protestant Anglo-Irish ascendancy parents. In early life he converts to Catholicism and socialism. After working as a journalist and later as a teacher at Oxford he embarks on a career in politics.

In 1936, motivated by a gospel teaching that 'those who visit prisoners visit Christ', Longford begins visiting prisoners at Oxford gaol. Subsequently he attempts to visit at least one prisoner every week.

After the war, he enters Clement Attlee's Labour government where he is tipped by Attlee as a future prime minister. He gains notoriety as the Cabinet Minister responsible for starting the reconstruction of occupied Germany. Conrad Adenauer hails him among the founders of West Germany; at home he is condemned for being soft on Britain's erstwhile enemies.

In 1955, he sets up 'The New Bridge', the first organisation in the United Kingdom dedicated to the welfare of ex-prisoners, but his ambitions as a reforming Home Secretary are thwarted in 1963 by the death of his friend and patron, Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell.

In Harold Wilson's Cabinet he is marginalised as Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Privy Seal and, briefly, Colonial Secretary. Nevertheless, in 1964, he chairs the committee of inquiry which later persuades Wilson to introduce the probation system. In 1968, he resigns over the government's failure to honour an election pledge to raise the school-leaving age to sixteen.

From within the House of Lords, Longford initiates a series of debates based around the reports on prisons' policy which he produced in the 1950s-60s. He becomes synonymous with the campaign for prison reform in Britain and, in particular, with support for the release of child murderer Myra Hindley.

Despite such campaigning, Longford takes a hard line on what constitutes criminality. In 2000, during a House of Lords debate on equalising the age of consent for homosexuals, Longford declares: "I regard homosexuality as a sad disorder and handicap and it makes it very unlikely that a healthy family life can be had," adding that, "homosexual leanings are not to be condemned any more than schizophrenia or alcoholism, but they are sinful by Christian standards and those of many other churches."

One year later, Longford is dead.