University of Kent at Canterbury Chancellor election, 1970

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The 1970 University of Kent at Canterbury [1] election for the position of Chancellor was called following the death of the first Chancellor, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, on 27 August 1968. Following protracted discussions and arrangements the election was held on 7 May 1970, with the winner Jo Grimond installed in July 1970. [2]

Jo Grimond British soldier, politician and academic

Joseph Grimond, Baron Grimond,, known as Jo Grimond, was a British politician, leader of the Liberal Party for eleven years from 1956 to 1967 and again briefly on an interim basis in 1976.


Electorate, nominations and rules

The death of Princess Marina came suddenly, less than four years after the University's creation, and no formal process had been developed for selecting a new Chancellor.

Although in theory a Chancellor could have been appointed in the same manner as the Vice-Chancellor, growing demands for student participation in the running of universities and a belief that the Chancellor should represent the entire University led to the Council and Senate agreeing to a direct election by all students, monthly-paid staff and members of the Council. [4]

Because of concerns that a frivolous candidate might be elected, a complex system of nominations was agreed:

Voting was to be by means of the alternative vote. [5]

Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is a type of ranked preferential voting method used in single-seat elections with more than two candidates. Instead of indicating support for only one candidate, voters in IRV elections can rank the candidates in order of preference. Ballots are initially counted for each voter's top choice. If a candidate has more than half of the vote based on first-choices, that candidate wins. If not, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The voters who selected the defeated candidate as a first choice then have their votes added to the totals of their next choice. This process continues until a candidate has more than half of the votes. When the field is reduced to two, it has become an "instant runoff" that allows a comparison of the top two candidates head-to-head.

The process was not begun until October 1969. The joint committee was initially chaired by Sydney Irving, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. [6]

Sydney Irving, Baron Irving of Dartford PC was a British Labour Co-operative politician.


Only those who were approved by the committee and assented to the election had their names made public. Several people whose names were approved subsequently declined the position. [6]

Those who were put to the electorate were as follows:

William Golding British novelist, poet, playwright and Nobel Prize for Literature laureate

Sir William Gerald Golding, was a British novelist, playwright, and poet. Best known for his novel Lord of the Flies, he won a Nobel Prize in Literature and was awarded the Booker Prize for fiction in 1980 for his novel Rites of Passage, the first book in what became his sea trilogy, To the Ends of the Earth.

Orkney and Shetland (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

Orkney and Shetland is a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. In the Scottish Parliament, Orkney and Shetland are separate constituencies. The constituency was historically known as Orkney and Zetland.

Liberal Party (UK) political party of the United Kingdom, 1859–1988

The Liberal Party was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade Peelites and Radicals favourable to the ideals of the American and French Revolutions in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.


By agreement the numbers were not revealed, but all four candidates "were understood to have received 'respectable' votes". [6] Jo Grimond was declared elected, [7] and formally installed at the start of July. [8] He served in the post until 1990.


  1. The University formally changed its name to the University of Kent in 2003. See University of Kent#Name.
  2. Graham Martin, From Vision to Reality: the Making of the University of Kent at Canterbury (University of Kent at Canterbury, 1990) pages 170-172 ISBN   0-904938-03-4
  3. Graham Martin, From Vision to Reality: the Making of the University of Kent at Canterbury (University of Kent at Canterbury, 1990) page 170 ISBN   0-904938-03-4
  4. Graham Martin, From Vision to Reality: the Making of the University of Kent at Canterbury (University of Kent at Canterbury, 1990) page 171 ISBN   0-904938-03-4
  5. Graham Martin, From Vision to Reality: the Making of the University of Kent at Canterbury (University of Kent at Canterbury, 1990) pages 171-172 ISBN   0-904938-03-4
  6. 1 2 3 Graham Martin, From Vision to Reality: the Making of the University of Kent at Canterbury (University of Kent at Canterbury, 1990) pages 172 ISBN   0-904938-03-4
  7. "University news". The Times . May 19, 1970.
  8. "University news". The Times . July 4, 1970.

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