DESMOND DONNELLY AND PEMBROKESHIRE POLITICS, 1964-70 By J. Graham Jones Of the array of Labour politicians in twentieth century Wales, very few were as colourful and unpredictable as arch-maverick Desmond Louis Donnelly (1920-74), Labour MP for Pembrokeshire from 1950 until his expulsion from the party in the spring of 1968, and subsequently Inde- pendent Labour Member until the general election of June 1970. Later still, he was to throw in his lot with Ted Heath's Conservative Party, avidly seeking nomination as a Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate. Born in India in 1920, the son of a tea planter of Irish descent, Donnelly received his education at Bembridge School on the Isle of Wight, worked as an office boy in a city warehouse (earning only 12s. 6d. per week), and served in the Royal Air Force throughout the duration of the Second World War, eventually attaining the rank of flight lieu- tenant with the Desert Air Force. He achieved some recognition when in 1940 he was one of the founders of the British Empire Cricket Eleven, playing alongside a number of cricketers of outstanding calibre. At the end of the war he also lectured at the RAF Staff College. As a schoolboy Donnelly had been an active member of the Labour League of Youth, and in 1936 had joined the Labour Party. He first hit the hustings in the general election of July 1945 when, at only 25 years of age, he stood as the Commonwealth candidate for Evesham, and in 1946 he fought the highly rural county Down constituency in the Labour interest, polling an impressive 28,846 votes at a time when the Attlee administration was highly unpopular in Northern Ireland. A natural jour- nalist with an array of newspaper columns to his credit, in 1946 Donnelly was appointed editor of Town and Country Planning, and in 1948 he became Director of the Town and Country Planning Association. His political aspirations were finally realised in February 1950 when he succeeded in toppling veteran National Liberal MP Major Gwilym Lloyd-George, a member of Wales's premier political dynasty, from his Pembrokeshire citadel, a sensational victory which ran strongly counter to the national anti-Labour swing. Donnelly had come to prominence as one of the Labour Party's national
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