Published today is the autobiography of one of the most colourful, most outspoken and one of the most deeply principled MPs. His career of 43 years saw him be the thorn in the side of several Prime Ministers, even i fhe never got a front bench political career. But Tam Dalyell's name was rarely out of the headlines.
An outspoken critic of both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, his vehement criticism of the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands conflict, the Gulf War of 1990 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, he has also been a leading figure in the attempt to uncover the truth about the Lockerbie bombing. His memoir, based on personal papers as well as official documents – many of them only recently declassified – looks back over a lifetime of dedicated service as MP for West Lothian and Linlithgow and covers his family connections to the area for almost 400 years.
Sir Thomas Dalyell Loch of The Binns, 11th Baronet – better known as Tam Dalyell – was born in Edinburgh in 1932 and inherited the Baronetcy of the Binns via his mother in 1972. Educated at the Edinburgh Academy and Eton College, he did his National Service with the Royal Scots Greys from 1950 to 1952 as an ordinary trooper having failed his officer training. He studied History and Economics at King's College, Cambridge, where he was Chairman of the Conservative Association. Following teacher training at Moray House College in Edinburgh, Tam taught at a non-selective school and a ship school. He joined the Labour Party in 1956 after the Suez Crisis and became an MP in 1962, defeating William Wolfe of the Scottish National Party. Tam was an MP in the House of Commons from 1962 to 2005, first for West Lothian and then for Linlithgow. He became Father of the House after the 2001 General Election, when Sir Edward Heath retired, and was a Member of the European Parliament from 1975 to 1979 and a member of the Labour National Executive from 1986 to 1987 for the Campaign group. In 2003 Tam was elected Rector of the University of Edinburgh.
The Importance of Being Awkward: The Autobiography of Tam Dalyell is published today, 17th August, £25 hbk. Tam will be appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this evening.