Thomas Johnston / Political Figures
- Name : Johnston
- Born : 1881
- Died : 1965
- Category : Political Figures
- Finest Moment : Setting up of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board
'Secretary of State for Scotland who had to decline a peerage'.
Born 2 November 1881, in Kirkintilloch, Johnston went into journalism, working on a relative's local newspapers before becoming editor of the Independent Labour Party's newspaper Forward, for a staggering 27 years. He entered politics after being involved with Keir Hardie's attempt to become Rector at Glasgow University, and finally won the seat of West Stirlingshire in 1922, at the second attempt.
By this time, he was the author of History of the Working Classes in Scotland. He lost his seat but returned as member for Dundee in 1925, finally regaining his former seat in 1929. He gained some experience as Lord Privy Seal before being lobbed out of Parliament from1931-5, after which he was back as member for West Stirlingshire again.
At the onset of World War II, he became Regional Commissioner for Scotland, with the evacuation of children from the cities one of his principal tasks. This he performed with the skill of one who knew people right across the social spectrum.
When Churchill asked him to become Secretary of State in 1941, he made it a condition that he would work with a Scottish Council of State, which would include all living previous Scottish Secretaries. This broad band of experienced, cross-party individuals resulted in much good service to the country, peaking in the setting up of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, 'The Hydro'. To enable this, Johnston had to allay fears that the Scottish landscape would not be mangled. He must have succeeded, as on leaving politics in 1945 he became the Board's first head.
He stuck to his earlier criticisms of the aristocracy by refusing a peerage, but continued as head of the Board until 1959.