Kenneth Kilroy Munro (August 10, 1929 - September 18, 2014) was a Scottish conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of Scotland from 1978 to 1981, and Leader of the Reform Party from 1976 to 1986. He previously served as Foreign Minister from 1973 to 1975.
Graduating St Andrews University in 1951, he spent five years in the army, rising to the rank of Captain. In 1957 he resigned from the army and entered parliament as MP for Perthshire. In 1961 entered government as parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, John Campbell. After the 1965 election he joined the Reform frontbench as Defence Spokesman, and after the 1969 election as Finance Spokesman. He was made Foreign Minister by Iain McNair in 1973, and helped finalise Scotland accession to the European Community.
Following the resignation of Iain McNair in January 1976 Munro was elected Leader of the Reform Party. He led the centre-right coalition to victory at the 1978 general election, forming a minority government. His government sought to stabilise the volatile economic situation, as well as deal with terrorist attacks from the militant republican movement.
His government was defeated in the 1981 general election, however Munro continued to lead Reform in opposition. Following a further defeat at the 1985 general election pressure grew on Munro to resign, and he was finally ousted in March 1986 by Michael Jardine. Munro was to remain a constant critic of Jardine of the backbenches, before finally retiring from Parliament at the 1990 general election.
Kenneth Munro was born on August 10 1929, the son of Edward Munro (1900-1977) and Iris McLeish (1906-1964) in Kirriemuir, Angus. Edward was a distant descendant of the Munro baronecy, and a landowner with an estate just outside Kirriemuir. Kenneth was educated at the James X School in Edinburgh.
In 1948 he began studying at St Andrews Univserity, studying Classics. Whilst at University he was active within the student Conservative Association, and was elected its President in 1949. In 1951 he graduated with a first.
He then joined the army, studying at the Royal Officer Training Academy in Aberdeen, in 1952 he was comissioned as a Lieutenant with the Gordon Highlanders. In 1955 he was promoted to Captain, in command of a company. He resigned his commission in 1957 in order to enter politics.
Early Political Career
Munro had been a member of the Conservative Party whilst at University, but had resigned from the party in 1951. Whilst in the armed forces his political views moderated and moved more towards the centre. In 1957 he joined the Reform Party, and was successfully adopted as a Reform Party candidate for the Perthshire constituency. He ran an active campaign, strongly association himself as a local voice and citing his experience in the army. He was elected, defeating incumbent Reform MP Joseph Dunstable.
He was an active backbencher, and was soon brought to the attention of the party leadership. He became the unofficial leader of the 57 Group, the influential group of 9 Reform MPs who had entered Parliament at the 1957 election, and as such built up a strong relationship with party leader John Campbell.
At the 1961 general election Munro was comfortably re-elected, topping the poll in his Perthshire constituency. He was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister John Campbell, and played an important role in the day to day functioning of the Prime Ministers office. In 1963 the government suddenly fell and Reform entered opposition again.
Munro was then given the new role of chair of the Reform Party parliamentary group, as such returning to the backbenches. Following the 1965 election he returned to the frontbench as shadow Defence spokesman. His relationship with the new Reform leader, Iain McNair, was much less close than that he'd had with his predecessor. Despite this, following the 1969 election Munro was promoted to serve as shadow Finance Minister.
When the 1973 election resulted in a centre-right government Munro, as shadow Finance spokesman, expected to be appointed Finance Minister, and had even gone to the lengths of preparing cabinet papers and working on an emergency budget. However in a surprising move Prime Minister Iain McNair decided to appoint Munro Foreign Minister, a brief he had not held in opposition, and had little experience of. It has been speculated this may have been due to McNair's poor personal relationship with Munro, and consiering the pressing economic issues of the time the two would have been forced to work closely together.
On ______ 1978 Kenneth Munro was elected Prime Minister by 101 votes to 96, with 2 abstentions.