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Richard Scurrah Wainwright (11 April 1918 – 16 January 2003) was a Liberal MP for Colne Valley, 1966-70 and February 1974-87.

As a child he attended the independent boys school at Shrewsbury. Through an open scholarship he was able to attend Clare College, Cambridge (BA History, 1938). It was whilst studying for his degree that he developed his interest for the Liberal Party, as a member of the Cambridge University Liberal Club. During 1930s he was deeply affected by the social conditions in Britain. What he witnessed particularly on the housing estates in Leeds was to shape his future political views. After leaving university he became a Merchant Banker, but later left the profession to focus on his political aspirations.

In World War II, Wainwright registered as a conscientious objector and joined the Friends' Ambulance Unit, a Quaker organisation. Between 1939 and 1946 he served with the Unit in France, Holland and Germany including in Normandy in 1944 and Antwerp in 1944 and 1945.

Wainwright stood as the Liberal Party candidate for the constituency of Pudsey in the General Election of 1950 and again in 1955, but was unsuccessful in both years. In 1956 he became the Liberal candidate for Colne Valley. Standing for the Liberals in Colne Valley in 1959, the 1963 byelection, and 1964, he increased his vote each time until he finally gained his seat in 1966. At the following election he was replaced by the Labour MP David Clark but was re-elected at the February election in 1974. He retained his seat until his retirement at the 1987 General Election.

Wainwright was an active member of the Liberal Party, working as Chairman between 1970 and 1972. His particular areas of interest were employment, trade and public finance. In 1953 he was elected to serve on the Liberal Party Executive. From 1961 he concentrated his work on local government at Liberal headquarters. He was a central spokesman for the Liberal Party on finance (representing his party on the Finance Bill Committee in 1968), trade and industry, the economy (1966-1970; 1979-1985) and employment (1985-1987). He was Chairman of the Liberal Party Research Department between 1968 and 1970. After 1974 Wainwright focused on the financial management of the party.

In the party's 1967 leadership election to replace Jo Grimond he was mooted as a possible 'Stop Jeremy Thorpe' candidate, but in the event did not stand due to his lack of parliamentary experience.

After 1987, although retired as an MP, Wainwright continued to be politically active, working for the Electoral Reform Society, as well as being a founding member of the executive committee of Charter 88. Between 1986 and 1997 he was also Deputy Chairman of the Wider Share Ownership Council. When the Liberal Party merged with the Social Democratic Party to become the Liberal Democrats Wainwright became a member working as President of the Yorkshire Federation of Liberal Democrats between 1989 and 1997.

Wainwright was also an active member of his community where he was a dedicated Methodist preacher. Between 1948 and 1958 he served on the Leeds Group B Hospital Management Committee, and was Chairman of the Arthington Hospital and Thorp Arch Hospital Committees. He served on the Committee for the Leeds, Skyrac and Morley Savings Bank Board of Managers and Leeds Library Committee. Further roles included Treasurer of the Leeds Invalid Children's Aid Society and the Bethany House Free Church Probation Home. Between 1959 and 1984 he was a member of the Joseph Rowntree Social Services Trust Limited (now the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust). He was also made a Fellow of the Huddersfield Polytechnic, later the University of Huddersfield, in 1988.

His wife Joyce, who he married in 1949, was an active member of the Yorkshire Women's Liberal Federation, fulfilling roles as both Chairman and President, and Chairman of the Colne Valley Women's Liberal Council (1959-1987). She was also a member of the Executive of the national Women's Liberal Federation.

Two of his children have a public profile: his son, Martin is the Northern Editor of The Guardian newspaper and Hilary Wainwright, one of his daughters, is the radical academic and editor of Red Pepper magazine.

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Patrick Duffy
Member of Parliament for Colne Valley
Succeeded by
David Clark
Preceded by
David Clark
Member of Parliament for Colne Valley
Feb 19741987
Succeeded by
Graham Riddick
Party political offices
Preceded by
Desmond Banks
Chairman of the Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Cyril Carr


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