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Maurice Alexander (24 December 1889 – 16 July 1945) was a Canadian barrister and soldier who later moved to England and had careers in the Diplomatic Service, English law and politics.

Contents

Family and education

Maurice Alexander was born into a Jewish family, the son of L G Alexander JP. He was educated at McGill University in Montreal where he was a Gold Medallist of the Literary Society. He obtained BA and BCL degrees.[1] He does not seem to have ever married.

Career

Alexander went in for the law. He was called to the bar of Quebec in 1910 and became a member of the firm of Davidson, Wainwright, Alexander and Elder barristers of Montreal.[1]

In 1911, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant of the Grenadier Guards, Canada rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel by 1916. He served in the European theatre from 1914-1917 as a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.[2] In 1916 he was appointed to the post of Deputy Judge Advocate-General, and stepped up to the full role in 1917. He was mentioned in despatches and in 1917 he won the CMG.[3]

In 1918 he entered the service of the Overseas Department of the Foreign Office and acted as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Washington from 1919–20.[4] He returned to the United Kingdom to practice law and was called to English Bar at the Middle Temple in 1920[5] and was appointed to North Eastern Circuit. In 1922 he was appointed King’s Counsel by the government of Canada.[6]

Alexander also had private business interests. He was a director of the Elkington Co., Ltd, of Birmingham and London.[1]

Politics

1922

Alexander was clearly on the progressive wing of politics but he was somewhat fickle in his party political affiliations. He began his political career as a National Liberal, i.e. as a member of that wing of the Liberal Party which supported the Coalition government of Prime Minister David Lloyd George. In December 1921 there had been a by-election in Southwark South East which had resulted in the capture of the seat from the Coalition Liberals by Labour. The defeated Liberal candidate, T O Jacobsen, decided not to contest the seat again at the 1922 general election and Alexander stepped into the breach gaining it back for the Liberals in a straight fight with Labour’s successful by-election candidate Thomas Ellis Naylor with a majority of 2,280 votes.[7]

1923

The next general election followed quickly in 1923. By this time the Lloyd George Coalition Liberals had reunited with the Independent wing of the party led by former Prime Minister H H Asquith. In Southwark South East, Alexander had another straight fight with Naylor, this time standing as a Liberal without prefix or suffix. Although the 1923 general election was a successful one for the reunited Liberals, bringing it 30% of the popular vote and 158 seats, this was almost entirely at the expense of the Conservatives in rural and suburban seats. The story against Labour in working class and industrial seats was very different.[8] Alexander lost his seat to Naylor by a majority of 1,490 votes.[7]

1924

The 1923 general election brought to power the first Labour government and the Liberal Party in Parliament found itself divided over whether to support it. During the short life of the government the Liberals were badly split on key votes, presenting a picture of disunity and political incoherence to the electorate.[9] At the 1924 general election Alexander decided to cut his ties with Southwark and stood instead as Liberal candidate in North Norfolk. This was the seat of Noel Buxton a former Liberal who had defected to Labour. Alexander came a poor third in the contest, losing his deposit.[10]

1929-1931

Alexander did not contest the 1929 apparently reverting to his law practice in London but in 1931, perhaps influenced by his encounter with Buxton, he surfaced as the Labour candidate in Newcastle upon Tyne East. However in straight fight with the sitting MP, the Liberal National Sir Robert Aske he lost by the wide margin of 10,346 votes.[4]

National candidate

Alexander did not contest any further Parliamentary elections but in 1938 it was reported that he was likely to be selected as the candidate of the National Government in the constituency of Bermonsdey West in opposition to the sitting Labour MP, Alfred Salter.[11] The intervention of the Second World War meant the general election due to be held by 1940 was postponed and Alexander did not get to contest Bermondsey. It is not clear why he lost faith with the Labour Party or why he should have been drawn to Sir John Simon's Liberal Nationals.[12]

Death

Alexander died suddenly at his flat at Chesterfield House, South Audley Street, Westminster aged 55 years[13]

References

  1. ^ a b c Who was Who, OUP 2007
  2. ^ The Times, 4 October 1922 p6
  3. ^ Louis Rosenberg & Morton Weinfeld (ed.), Canada’s Jews: a social and economic study of Jews in Canada in the 1930s; McGill Queen’s Press, 1993 p251
  4. ^ a b The Times House of Commons 1931; Politico’s Publishing 2003 p49
  5. ^ The Times, 14 April 1920 p5
  6. ^ The Times, 4 October 1922 p4
  7. ^ a b F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Elections Results 1918-1949; Political Reference Publications, Glasgow, 1949 p50
  8. ^ David Dutton, A History of the Liberal Party in the Twentieth Century; Palgrave Macmillan, 2004 p92
  9. ^ Chris Cook, A Short History of the Liberal Party, 1900-1992; Macmillan, 1993 p99
  10. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Elections Results 1918-1949; Political Reference Publications, Glasgow, 1949 p433
  11. ^ The Times, 17 February 1938 p11
  12. ^ The Times, 6 April 1938 p17
  13. ^ The Times, 17 July 1945 p4

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Ellis Naylor
Member of Parliament for Southwark South East
19221923
Succeeded by
Thomas Ellis Naylor
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