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Sir John Heydon Romaine Stokes, KBE (23 July 1917 – 27 June 2003), was a British politician and a Conservative Party Member of Parliament.

Contents

Family

The son of Victor Romaine Stokes, John was educated at Haileybury College and Queen's College, Oxford University, (BA 1938) where he became, in 1937, honorary agent and treasurer of the University Conservative Association - but failed to become president (he was beaten by Edward Heath. He was successful, however, in being elected President of the university's Monarchist Society, The Oxford Monarchists.

Marriages

He married:

  • a) 23 December 1939, Barbara (d. 1988), younger daughter of R. E. Yorke of Wellingborough, by whom he had one son and two daughters
  • b) 21 January 1989, Mrs Elsie F.Plowman (d. 1990)
  • c) Ruth, widow of Sir Timothy Bligh (who was secretary to Harold Macmillan as Prime Minister), dissolved 1996
  • d) 1996, Frances, widow of Lieutenant-Commander Donald Packham

Military service

Between 1939 and 1946, John Stokes served as a Major in the Royal Fusiliers, on the Infantry Staff, and the Diplomatic Service. He was wounded in North Africa in 1943, and ended as military assistant to HM Minister in Beirut and Damascus.

Business ventures

He became:

He formed Clive and Stokes Ltd., Personnel Consultants (1959 – 1980) of which he was a Director.

Political career

In 1964, Stokes contested the parliamentary seat of Gloucester for the Conservative Party. Two years later, he contested Hitchin. Finally he was elected MP for Oldbury and Halesowen (1970 - 1974), and for Halesowen and Stourbridge (1974 - 1992). He was a very active backbencher and described by The Times as an "old-fashioned Conservative who trusted his constituents' instincts about what was right and wrong. He looked the part of the typical Conservative who graced the Commons benches in the years after (and before) the Second World War. His Conservatism seemed to belong to an earlier, simpler age. Yet the House, on the whole, loved him, and listened to him." (3 July 2003).

John Stokes was a member of Parliamentary Delegations to Luxemburg (1972), Belgium (1973), Barbados and Dominica (1979), the USA and Bermuda (1983), and Syria (1984). He was a member of the WEU Defence Committee visit to Mainland China (1989), Leader of the Parliamentary Delegations to Portugal (1989), Falkland Islands (1985), and Malta (1988). He was UK Delegate to the Council of Europe and WEU from 1983, and served on the Parliamentary Select Committee dealing with the work of the Ombudsman. In 1992 he led a Council of Europe delegation to observe the elections in Albania.

He was Chairman of the Primrose League General Purposes Committee from 1971 to 1985, and from 1985 to 1990, he was an elected member of the House of Laity, General Synod of the Church of England. He was also a member of the Prayer Book Society, a group dedicated to the preservation of the Book of Common Prayer. Stokes was also Vice-President of the Royal Stuart Society.

He had little time for 'professional politicians'. He argued that the back-benches in parliament needed more Army officers, "more squires, landowners, and country gentlemen." He attributed the decline of deference in society to the demise of the officer classes from positions of influence. He was also a firm defender of the hereditary principle in the Upper House, and wrote the foreword to a Monday Club booklet by Lord Sudeley entitled The Preservation of the House of Lords.

The Times, (3 July 2003) stated in its obituary for Stokes that "during the crippling strikes at British Leyland in the 1970s, Stokes suggested in the House that it might help the troubles there if a few of the ringleaders were taken out and shot. He had not time for the new, politically correct Establishment who inveighed against what to him was straight-forward common sense on a range of issues. He constantly attacked the BBC and much of the rest of the media; also trendy clerics and trendy academics; and the sinister network of social workers and teachers who had been indoctrinated in their training colleges to undermine traditional social and sexual morality. All these people, he said, added up to a conspiracy against the tried and traditional view of what the British way of life ought to be all about."

When Leon Brittan fell from grace during the Westland affair, Stokes announced that Brittan should be replaced by "a red-blooded, red-faced Englishman, preferably from the landed interests." (Brittan's parents were Jewish immigrants).

Stokes was a popular constituents' MP, and from 1971 to 1984 was President of the West Midlands Conservative Clubs.

The November/December 1988 edition of the Primrose League Gazette carried a tribute to Stokes, who had recently been knighted, calling him "A True Knight".

In 1990, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, he criticised women who were vocally lobbying the Government to do more to release their husbands being held hostage by Saddam Hussein, quoting Shakespeare and accusing them of "mewling and puking" (Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2815841.stm).

Monday Club

John Stokes was a long-standing (joined prior to 1970) member of the Conservative Monday Club. He was a main speaker at the Club's Halt Immigration Now! meeting in Westminster Central Hall in September 1972, calling for a halt to all immigration, the repeal of the Race Relations Act, and the start of a full repatriation scheme, the meeting's formal resolution being delivered to the Prime Minister.

Stokes was one of several MPs who assailed the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) march through central London in June 1974 stating that it "was offensive to English people". In November 1974 he said that one of the principal concerns of the police at that time was control of entry to the UK mainland from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and he supported a call for the introduction of identity cards. He said that the nation's will was on trial - "a resolute and united nation can defeat this tiny handful of cruel and desperate men". In 1977, the PIRA was outlawed.

The following month, when the House of Commons debated a measure to give the Church of England clergy control over its doctrine and forms of worship, John Stokes said that he was a member of the [Tory] Party which had its origins in "defence of Church and King". He said the measures had been got up by "a lot of trendy clergymen" who wanted to replace the traditional liturgy "with a lot of modern rubbish".

Describing a House of Commons debate on Capital Transfer Tax in January 1975 as "the Tories' finest hour", Stokes subsequently wrote to the Daily Telegraph stating that "the Party really believes in the family, the family firm or farm, the woodlands, our historic houses, the value of savings, etc., and above all, of course, personal freedom, against the all-devouring Socialist State".

The same year, Stokes spoke against a Private Members Bill to abolish hereditary titles, which was defeated.

He was one of the principal speakers at the Monday Club's two-day conference in Birmingham in March 1975, the title of which was The Conservative Party and the Crisis in Britain.

References and publications

  • Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade (April 1972), and The Monday Club - Crisis and After (May 1975), both published by the Current Affairs Information Service, Ilford, Essex, (both P/B).
  • Stokes, John, Crusader '80, in the Primrose League Gazette, vol.84, no.6, Nov/Dec 1980 edition, London.
  • Stokes, John, The State of the Nation, in the Primrose League Gazette, vol.86, no.2, April 1982 edition, London.
  • Stokes, John, The Falklands Spirit, in the Primrose League Gazette, vol.86, no.5, Nov/Dec 1982 edition, London.
  • Stokes, John, The Church and the Bomb, in the Primrose League Gazette, vol.87, no.3, July 1983 edition, London.
  • Stokes, John, Politics and The Church, in the Primrose League Gazette, vol.89, no.1, April/May 1985 edition, London.
  • Stokes, John, An Issue Greater Than Party Advantage, in the Primrose League Gazette, vol.90, no.1, Feb/March 1986 edition, London.
  • Stokes, John, A Long and Glorious History, in the Primrose League Gazette, vol.90, no.2, June/July 1986 edition, London.
  • Stokes, John, The Condition of The People, in the Primrose League Gazette, vol.91, no.1, March/April 1987 edition, London.
  • Stokes, John, The Place of the Book of Common Prayer in the Fabric of The Nation, in the Primrose League Gazette, vol.91, no.3, Nov/Dec 1987 edition, London.
  • Stokes, John, A Quiet and Undemonstrable People, in the Primrose League Gazette, vol.92, no.1, April/May 1988 edition, London.
  • Black, A & C, Who's Who, London, 1986, ISBN 0-7136-2760-3
  • Dodd's Parliamentary Companion, East Sussex, 1991, ISBN 0-905702-17-4
  • The Times, London, Sir John Stokes - Obituary, p.29, Thursday 3 July 2003.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Horner
Member of Parliament for Oldbury and Halesowen
1970February 1974
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Halesowen and Stourbridge
February 19741992
Succeeded by
Warren Hawksley
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