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Christopher Paget Mayhew, Baron Mayhew (12 June 1915 – 7 January 1997) was a British politician who was a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) from 1945 to 1950 and from 1951 to 1974, when he left the Labour Party to become a Liberal. In 1981, Mayhew received a life peerage and was raised to the House of Lords as Baron Mayhew.
Early life 
Mayhew attended Haileybury and Christ Church, Oxford, as an exhibitioner. In 1934 he holidayed in Moscow. While at Oxford, he became President of the Oxford Union. Mayhew was commissioned into the Intelligence Corps in 1940, rising to the rank of Major.
Political career 
Foreign Office 
He became Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office where he served under Ernest Bevin and acquired the strong pro-Arab views that would make him a distinctive figure in British politics. Although Mayhew lost his seat in the 1950 election, he soon returned to Parliament upon the death of Bevin when he won the by-election in 1951 for Bevin's seat of Woolwich East.
During Labour's 13 years in opposition, Mayhew played an important role in presenting the Labour Party on television, both as a commentator on the BBC and as a presenter on Labour Party Political Broadcasts. He introduced the first Labour broadcast during the 1951 election in which he talked with Sir Hartley Shawcross. Mayhew also became known as one of the fiercest opponents of unilateral nuclear disarmament in the Labour Party. Mayhew also served as Shadow War Secretary from 1960–1961 and as an Opposition Foreign Affairs Spokesman from 1961-1964.
When Labour took office in 1964, Mayhew became Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Defence - a post more often referred to as "Minister for the Navy". After the Wilson government decided to shift British airpower from carrier-based planes to land-based planes and cancel the CVA-01 aircraft carrier programme, in 1966, Mayhew, along with the First Sea Lord, Sir David Luce, resigned.
Nasser and the High Court 
In 1973 he offered £5,000 to anyone who could produce evidence that Nasser had stated that he sought to "drive the Jews into the sea". Mayhew repeated the offer later in the House of Commons (Hansard, 18 October 1973) and broadened it to include genocidal statements by other Arab leaders (Manchester Guardian, 9 September 1974), whilst reserving for himself the right to be the arbiter of the authenticity of any purported statements as well as their meaning. Mayhew received several letters from claimants, each one producing one quotation or another from an Arab leader, which Mayhew deemed to be fabricated. One claimant, Warren Bergson, took Mayhew to court. The case came before the High Court in February 1976. Bergson was unable to offer evidence of Nasser's alleged statement. Bergson acknowledged that, after thorough research, he had been unable to find any statement by a responsible Arab leader which could be described as genocidal.
Move to Liberal Party 
Mayhew had been feeling increasingly uneasy with Labour policies under Harold Wilson and in 1974, he defected to the Liberals, being the first Member of Parliament to cross the floor to the Liberals in several decades. In the October 1974 election, Mayhew contested Bath, instead of Woolwich East in order not to split his constituency party in Woolwich East. Mayhew lost Bath, which he also unsuccessfully contested in 1979. In 1981, Mayhew became a life peer with the title Baron Mayhew, of Wimbledon in Greater London and became the Liberal Spokesman on Defence in the House of Lords.
Other activities 
Mayhew also was active as an advocate for the mentally ill and served as Chairman of MIND (National Association for Mental Health) from 1992-1997. Mayhew wrote several books, including his autobiography, Time To Explain, in 1987. They also include Publish It Not: The Middle East Cover-Up (written with Michael Adams in 1975) which was an account of the Middle East conflict from the Palestinian perspective, unusual for an important British public figure at the time it was published.
Although Christopher Mayhew's career never lived it up to its early promise, he did serve an important role in British political history. Mayhew's defection to the Liberals was to serve, along with Dick Taverne's decision to leave Labour, as the forewarning of the split within the Labour Party that would occur in 1981 with the rise of the Social Democratic Party. Mayhew's defection was an early sign of the large rift growing between the Left and Right in the Labour Party and began the process by which the Liberal party and its political heirs, the SDP-Liberal Alliance and the Liberal Democrats became a major force in British politics.
Panorama experiment 
In 1955, Mayhew took part in an experiment that was intended to form a Panorama special for BBC TV that was never broadcast. In this, under the guidance of his friend, Dr Humphry Osmond, Mayhew ingested 400 mg of mescaline hydrochloride and allowed himself to be filmed for the duration of the trip. Samples of the audio were used in the psychedelic dance tracks "Mayhew Speaks Out" and "Christopher Mayhew Says" by British band The Shamen. Part of this footage was included in the 1986 BBC documentary LSD - The Beyond Within.
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "N" (part 2)[self-published source][better source needed]
- His autobiography
- Craig, F. W. S. (1983) . British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 434. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Christopher Mayhew
- Amazon entry for Publish It Not: The Middle East Cover Up
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for South Norfolk
|Member of Parliament for Woolwich East