James Francis Newton (born April 7, 1931) is an English Social Democrat politician who served as Prime Minister of England from 1982 to 1990, he also served as leader of the Social Democratic Party from 1980 to 1990.
Newton entered parliament in 1963 as MP for Leeds North West. He was promoted to the frontbench in 1967. He entered the cabinet in 1971 as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and later served as Industry Secretary and Trade Secretary.
He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under James Cox. As Chancellor Newton attempted to control inflation through cuts in public expenditure and wage and price controls, he became disliked by the left wing of the party but admired by the right.
When Cox retired as SDP leader following the 1980 election Newton ran to suceed him. In a close race he defeated Ray Northfield, Donald Bryan and Tom Smith to become leader of the SDP. Newton sought to move the Social Democrats further towards the political centre ground, culminating in the 1981 Sheffield Declaration which saw the SDP renounce nationalisation as a political aim and fully embrace a mixed economy.
Newton led the Social Democrats to a major election victory at the 1982 general election, and a landslide re-election at the 1984 general election. The Newton government deregulated the financial sector, cut social spending and began the process of european integration. Newton led the SDP to a third electoral victory in 1987. His third government faced tough economic challenges, beginning with the stock market crash of 1987, a large budget deficit and a weakened export market. Newton pushed for deeper spending cuts to help solve the nation's economic woes, but this in turn alienated the Social Democrat's own political base, and led to the General Strike of 1989.
Newton was eventually replaced by Foreign Secretary Tom Smith shortly before the 1990 general election, which saw a landslide defeat for the Social Democrats, and both Newton and Smith losing their seats. He remains to date the longest serving Social Democrat Prime Minister, and the fourth longest serving Prime Minister since 1945.
He has remained an active figure within the Social Democrats, and his reputation as Prime Minister has improved in recent years.
James Newton was born on April 7, 1931 in Portsmouth, Hampshire.
Early Political Career
He first ran for parliament in 1960 for his home seat of Portsmouth North, losing the election in a relatively tight race to the National candidate. In 1963 he was selected for the safe SDP seat of Leeds North West, and was easily elected.