28 January, 2009

Richard Kidston Law

Richard Kidston Law, 1st Baron Coleraine was a British Conservative politician. He was the youngest son of former Conservative Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law and his wife Annie.

He was elected MP for Hull South West in the election of 1931 and held that seat until 1945. In 1940 he was appointed Financial Secretary to the War Office and was then transferred to the job of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs until 1943. He was then Minister of State until 1945, when in Churchill's caretaker government he was Minister of Education. In November 1945 became the MP for Kensington South, which he held until February 1950.

In 1950 he published Return from Utopia, which stated his belief that trying to use the power of the state to create any sort of Utopia on earth is not just unattainable but positively evil because one of the first principles to be sacrificed is the principle of freedom and individual choice. In the book Law argued:

To turn our backs on Utopia, to see it for the sham and the delusion that it is, is the beginning of hope. It is to hold out once again the prospect of a society in which man is free to be good because he is free to choose. Freedom is the first condition of human virtue and Utopia is incompatible with freedom. Come back from Utopia and hope is born again.

Law was again elected as an MP in the election of 1951, this time for Haltemprice. Law resigned his seat in February 1954 in order to be elevated to the House of Lords as Baron Coleraine, of Haltemprice in the East Riding of the County of York.

In 1970 he published For Conservatives Only where he criticised the Conservative leadership for what he saw as sacrificing Tory principles for electoral expediency and the pursuit of the "middle ground". He was also Patron of the Selsdon Group of Conservative MPs.

Lord Coleraine married Mary Virginia, daughter of Abraham Fox Nellis, of Rochester, New York, in 1929. He died on 15 November 1980, age 79, and was succeeded in the barony by his son James Martin Bonar Law.

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