James Duncan Gordon Davidson
(born 10 January 1927) was a British Liberal
politician and farmer. He served as Member of Parliament for Aberdeenshire West
from 1966 to 1970, when he chose not to stand again because of a family illness.
Davidson was an Aberdeenshire farmer by profession but had served as a naval officer and had been naval attache at the British Embassy in Moscow. He had been educated at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth
and Downing College, Cambridge
. In 2003, he published a book about Scottish Naval History, Scots and the Sea: A Nation's Lifeblood
Davidson was selected to fight Aberdeenhire West for the Liberals. During the 1966 general election campaign
one of Davidson's main policy points was the establishment of a development authority for the North East of Scotland (on the lines of the Highlands and Islands Development Board
) and he was a strong advocate on behalf of small farmers and of improving communications in remote areas like the Highlands by improving road links to the major cities. He also campaigned for better air and sea links with Scandinavia.
Davidson was Liberal spokesman on foreign affairs and defence issues in Parliament, a particularly important brief given the ongoing war in Vietnam and the arguments over Britain's role East of Suez. In February 1967, he took a leading role in the opposition to the government's plans to raise fees for foreign students at British universities and introduced a Bill to give the people of Scotland and Wales referendums on devolution. This was as part of the Liberal strategy to draw the sting of the increasing popularity of the Scottish National Party and re-establish the Liberal position on 'home rule all round' with the Scottish electorate.
1970 general election
When Davidson stood down from Parliament his old constituency was contested at the 1970 general election
by Laura Grimond
, wife of Liberal leader Jo Grimond
. It was felt that had Davidson stood again he would have held the seat proably with an increased majority based on his record as a strong local MP ut despite Davidson's campaigning alongside Mrs Grimond, the seat was gained for the Conservatives
by Colonel Colin 'Mad Mitch' Mitchell
formerly of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
who had proved his personal bravery serving in Aden
. Given the size of Mitchell's majority of more than 5000 votes, the loss of another Highland seat at Ross and Cromarty
and even Jo Grimond's majority in Orkney and Shetland
being reduced to its lowest ever total, the opinion of The Times
reporter that Davidson would have held on had he fought again must be questioned. Overall the Liberal strength in the House of Commons fell from 13 to just six MPs.
When Grimond stood down as leader of the Liberal Party in 1967 he apparently asked Davidson if he wanted to be a candidate for the leadership but Davidson reported that he thought Grimond had put this question to every one of the twelve MPs in the Liberal Parliamentary Party. He declined to stand himself and, with misgivings, voted for Jeremy Thorpe
as the most experienced candidate.
With effect from 1 October 1970, Davidson was appointed to be chief executive of the Royal Highland and Agricultual Society of Scotland and he continued in the post until 1991.
- Leigh Rayment's Peerage Page
- Who's Who - OUP, 2007