Tony Leavey

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John Anthony Leavey (3 March 1915 9 July 1999) was a British company director and politician.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state‍—‌the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.


Family business

Leavey's father George was chairman of Smith & Nephew, then an engineering firm who had not yet specialised in medical devices. He went to Mill Hill School and then Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge before returning to east Lancashire where he became a director of companies involved in the weaving and matchmaking industries in Colne and Rawtenstall.

Smith & Nephew plc is a British multinational medical equipment manufacturing company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is an international producer of advanced wound management products, arthroscopy products, trauma and clinical therapy products, and orthopaedic reconstruction products. Its products are sold in over 120 countries. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

Mill Hill School

Mill Hill School is a 13–18 mixed independent, day and boarding school in Mill Hill, London, England that was established in 1807. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

Trinity Hall, Cambridge College of the University of Cambridge

Trinity Hall is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. It is the fifth-oldest college of the university, having been founded in 1350 by William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich.

War service

As the Second World War loomed, Leavey joined up and served in the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards in France and Belgium; he only just escaped at Dunkirk, being one of the last to be evacuated. On arriving back in Britain the regiment underwent training in the midlands where Leavey organised a pack of fox hounds with which to go fox hunting. He was pleased to return to liberate France after D Day, fighting through to the end of the war. He was mentioned in despatches and reached the rank of Major. After demobilisation in 1946, Leavey was employed by the family firm of Smith and Nephew and became a Director in 1948. He joined the Yorkshire Hussars in the Territorial Army as a Major in 1952, but left in 1955.

5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards

The 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards was a cavalry regiment of the British Army formed in 1922 by the amalgamation of the 5th Dragoon Guards and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons. It served in the Second World War and the Korean War. In August 1992, as a consequence of the Options for Change defence cuts, the regiment was amalgamated with the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards to form the Royal Dragoon Guards.

Fox hunting dog sport, hunting

Fox hunting is an activity involving the tracking, chase and, if caught, the killing of a fox, traditionally a red fox, by trained foxhounds or other scent hounds, and a group of unarmed followers led by a "master of foxhounds", who follow the hounds on foot or on horseback.

Operation Overlord Successful invasion of Nazi-held northern Europe in World War II

Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II. The operation was launched on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings. A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.


At the 1950 general election he was picked to challenge the already well-known Labour MP Barbara Castle in Blackburn East. At his second shot at the seat in 1951, he cut her majority to the point at which the seat looked vulnerable. Instead of fighting again, he was selected for Heywood and Royton, a Conservative seat where the sitting MP was retiring.

Barbara Castle British politician

Barbara Anne Castle, Baroness Castle of Blackburn, PC, GCOT was a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament for Blackburn from 1945 to 1979, making her the longest-serving female MP in the history of the House of Commons until that record was broken in 2007 by Gwyneth Dunwoody. She later became the Member of the European Parliament for Greater Manchester from 1979 to 1989 and subsequently a member of the House of Lords, having been granted a life peerage in 1990.

Blackburn East was a parliamentary constituency in the town of Blackburn in Lancashire. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the first past the post system.

Parliamentary career

Leavey won at the 1955 general election. He was a strong supporter of the government over the Suez Crisis and attacked nearby Labour MPs for supporting Gamal Abdel Nasser, being rewarded with appointment as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Walter Monckton for one year from 1956 and later to Derick Heathcoat Amory in 1959; however, his loyalty did not stretch to accepting what he saw as government indifference to the local cotton industry. When his pressure resulted in the passing of the Cotton Industry Act 1959, it was felt to have aided his campaign locally; despite it, in 1962, he was one of five Conservative MPs to support a Labour motion of censure on the subject.

Suez Crisis diplomatic and military confrontation in late 1956 involving Egypt, Britain, France and Israel

The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli War, also named the Tripartite Aggression in the Arab world and Operation Kadesh or Sinai War in Israel, was an invasion of Egypt in late 1956 by Israel, followed by the United Kingdom and France. The aims were to regain Western control of the Suez Canal and to remove Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had just nationalized the canal. After the fighting had started, political pressure from the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Nations led to a withdrawal by the three invaders. The episode humiliated the United Kingdom and France and strengthened Nasser.

Gamal Abdel Nasser Second president of Egypt

Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein was the second President of Egypt, serving from 1954 until his death in 1970. Nasser led the 1952 overthrow of the monarchy and introduced far-reaching land reforms the following year. Following a 1954 attempt on his life by a Muslim Brotherhood member, he cracked down on the organization, put President Mohamed Naguib under house arrest and assumed executive office. He was formally elected president in June 1956.

Some of Leavey's campaigns attracted attention, with his call for an end to the teaching of Latin in schools among them. He was insistent that he knew there had been flying saucers over Lancashire, and wanted girls who went topless to be arrested. He supported Anthony Wedgwood Benn in his campaign to allow peers to renounce their titles. In 1961 he was made Secretary to the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers.

Unidentified flying object unusual apparent anomaly in the sky that is not readily identifiable

An unidentified flying object (UFO) is an object observed in the sky that is not readily identified. Most UFOs are later identified as conventional objects or phenomena. The term is widely used for claimed observations of extraterrestrial spacecraft.

Tony Benn British Labour Party politician

Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn, originally known as Anthony Wedgwood Benn, but later as Tony Benn, was a British politician, writer, and diarist. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) for 47 years between the 1950 and 2001 general elections and a Cabinet minister in the Labour governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan in the 1960s and 1970s. Originally a moderate, he was identified as being on the party's hard left from the early 1980s, and was widely seen as a key proponent of democratic socialism within the party.

The 1922 Committee, formally known as the Conservative Private Members' Committee, is the parliamentary group of the Conservative Party in the UK House of Commons. The committee, consisting of all Conservative backbencher MPs, meets weekly while parliament is in session and provides a way for backbenchers to co-ordinate and discuss their views independently of frontbenchers. Its executive membership and officers are by consensus limited to backbench MPs, although since 2010 frontbench Conservative MPs have an open invitation to attend meetings. The committee can also play an important role in choosing the party leader. The group was formed in 1923 but became important after 1940. It is generally closely related to the leadership and under the control of party whips.

When Prime Minister Harold Macmillan sacked seven members of his cabinet in the "Night of the Long Knives" in 1962, Leavey praised him for being ruthless with colleagues when necessary. He had a tough fight at the 1964 general election, as Labour had his seat as a target. Leavey, who had a major operation shortly before the election, was ultimately unable by 818 votes to retain it.

Business appointments

After leaving Parliament he paid more attention to his work at Smith and Nephew (which had continued in the background during his career, and seen him appointed Deputy Chairman in 1962) and also became Chairman of Wilson (Connolly) Holdings, a midlands-based firm of builders. He had other business interests and was a member of the South East London Industrial Tribunal from 1978 to 1984. In 1982 he wrote (together with Richard Bennett) an official history of Smith and Nephew from its foundation in 1856.


Enthusiastic about country activities, Leavey continued to enjoy fox hunting and also took part in point-to-point races. He was a council member of the Outward Bound Trust from 1974 to 1992 and also became a trustee of the Kurt Hahn Trust in 1987. He also enjoyed fishing.

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Harold Sutcliffe
Member of Parliament for Heywood and Royton
1955 1964
Succeeded by
Joel Barnett