Cyril Smith

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You might also be seeking the metallurgist Cyril Stanley Smith


Sir Cyril Smith (born 28th June 1928) was a British Liberal Party politician. He served as MP for Rochdale from 1972 until retiring in 1992.

Smith won the seat of Rochdale at the 1972 by-election with a large swing from Labour to the Liberals, the final tally giving Smith a majority of 5,171. He won the seat on five further occasions. In June 1975 Smith was appointed as the Liberals' Chief Whip and faced much pressure from the press in the wake of a sexual scandal involving party leader Jeremy Thorpe. Smith resigned the Whips on health grounds.

As a result of a peculiar childhood accident, Sir Cyril was extremely obese for most of his life, and is quite possibly the heaviest MP in British political history. He traded on this with a larger-than-life personality - indeed his nickname is "Big Cyril" - also the title of his autobiography. A common joke on the size of the Parliamentary Liberal Party in the early 1970s was that only one taxi would be needed to transport the entire party; after Smith's election, the party could fill two taxis!

Prior to being voted into Parliament, Smith had a long career in local politics. He took particular pride in his record in education for having overseen the introduction of comprehensive education in his district with markedly less controversy than in surrounding areas. He was first elected to Rochdale council in 1950 and became mayor in 1966. That year he was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. A knighthood followed in 1988.

References

  • Big Cyril: Autobiography (1977) ISBN 0491022611. Smith's autobiography.
  • Reflections from Rochdale: As I Saw it and as I See it (1997) ISBN 1851873406. A later slimmer autobiographical work.
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