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Sir Patrick Cormack

Member of Parliament
for South Staffordshire
South West Staffordshire (1974–1983)
Assumed office 
28 February 1974
Preceded by new constituency
Majority 8,847 (34.5%)

Member of Parliament
for Cannock
In office
18 June 1970 – 28 February 1974
Preceded by Jennie Lee
Succeeded by Gwilym Roberts

Born 18 May 1939 (1939-05-18) (age 70)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Kathleen Mary MacDonald
Alma mater University of Hull

Sir Patrick Thomas Cormack, MP, FSA (born 18 May 1939, Grimsby, England) is a British politician, historian, journalist and author. He is currently a Conservative Party Member of Parliament, representing the constituency of South Staffordshire, having first entered the House of Commons in 1970.


Early life

Cormack was born in Grimsby just before the outbreak of World War II. He was educated locally at the St James's Choir School and the Havelock School, before attending the University of Hull where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1961. He was a teacher at his former school, St James's Choir School, in 1961, before becoming a training and education officer with Ross Ltd in 1966. In 1967 he was appointed an assistant house master at the Wrekin College in Wellington for two years, after which he became the head of history at the Brewood Grammar School in 1969.

Political career



Cormack contested the safe Labour parliamentary seat of Bolsover at the 1964 general election, where he lost to the sitting MP Harold Neal, who won with a majority of 23,103 votes. At the 1966 general election, Cormack contested his hometown seat of Grimsby, but again was defeated, this time by the Secretary of State for Education and Science, Anthony Crosland, who had a majority of 8,126.

At the 1970 general election, Cormack stood for the seat of Cannock, and this time was elected, narrowly defeating the incumbent Labour MP Jennie Lee (the wife of the founder of the National Health Service, Aneurin Bevan). Cormack won with a majority of 1,529, and has remained an MP since (he is now one of the longest serving members of parliament).

Prior to 1970, Cormack was a member of the Bow Group and the Conservative Monday Club, resigning from both at the end of 1971.[1]

Parliamentary career

From 1970-3, Cormack served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Department of Health and Social Security. He moved constituencies at the February 1974 general election, leaving marginal seat of Cannock and instead contesting the newly drawn seat of South West Staffordshire, which he won comfortably with a majority of 9,758. Cormack was a member of the Education Select Committee for the duration of the 1979 Parliament. In 1983, his constituency changed to its present incarnation, Staffordshire South, and after the 1983 general election, he became a member of the Chairman's Panel (and is still a member today). Cormack was knighted in 1995 for his service to parliament, and in 1997, after 27 years as an MP on the backbenches, he was finally promoted by the then Leader of the Opposition, William Hague, to become the opposition's Deputy Leader of the House of Commons. He resigned from this position in 2000 in order to run for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons (following the retirement of Betty Boothroyd). However he was unsuccessful in his bid for the Speakership, with the House instead choosing Labour MP Michael Martin for the role. Since 2005, Cormack has been the chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee.

The vote in Staffordshire South was postponed at the 2005 general election due to the death of the Liberal Democrat candidate Jo Harrison. When the election did take place on 23 June 2005, Cormack won comfortably. In February 2007, it was announced that Cormack had failed to win the readoption of his constituency party for the next general election. This vote was later declared invalid as the number of votes recorded exceeded the number of people present at the meeting.[2][3] In July 2007, the South Staffordshire Conservatives' executive council voted on the matter, but it resulted in a tie. Consequently, a vote of all local party members was held to decide whether Cormack should remain the party's candidate at the next general election.[4] In the vote, held on 14 September, Cormack was readopted as the Conservative candidate, receiving the backing of over 75% of participating party members. Cormack expressed his gratitude and called the victory a "great relief".[5]

Cormack is seen as a One Nation Tory. He was a Heathite, and was a frequent rebel under Margaret Thatcher.

Cormack is currently the second longest serving Conservative MP after Peter Tapsell.

On 1 December 2009, Cormack announced his intention to stand down at the 2010 general election.[6]

Interest in history

Cormack takes an active interest in historical issues, particularly those related to English Heritage. He is also a very knowledgeable parliamentary historian.

Cormack has written many books on subjects ranging from the history of parliament, British castles, English cathedrals, and a book on William Wilberforce.

Cormack has been a trustee of the Churches Preservation Trust since 1972, and is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He has been a council member of British Archaeology since 1979, and also a member of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass for the same length of time. From 1983-93, he was trustee on the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. He is a consultant and adviser to FIRST, an international affairs organisation since 1985.

A committed Christian, Cormack was a rector's warden at Parliament's parish church, St Margaret's, Westminster, from 1978-90.

Cormack was made a Freeman of the City of London in 1980.

Personal life

Cormack has been married to Kathleen Mary MacDonald since 1967. The couple have two sons.


  1. ^ Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club - The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 21 & 28
  2. ^ "MP Cormack fails to get readopted". BBC News. 13 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-13.  
  3. ^ "Cormack ousting vote is invalid". BBC News. 23 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-13.  
  4. ^ "Tories fail to decide on Cormack", BBC News, 13 July 2007.
  5. ^ "Cormack 'resoundingly readopted'", BBC News, 14 September 2007.
  6. ^ "Veteran Tory MP Sir Patrick Cormack to stand down". BBC News Online. 1 December 2009.  

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jennie Lee
Member of Parliament for Cannock
1970Feb 1974
Succeeded by
Gwilym Roberts
New constituency Member of Parliament for South West Staffordshire
Feb 19741983
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for South Staffordshire


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