John Freeman (British politician)
|British Ambassador to the United States|
|Prime Minister||Harold Wilson|
|Preceded by||Sir Patrick Dean|
|Succeeded by||Rowland Baring|
|High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to India|
|Preceded by||Sir Paul Gore-Booth|
|Succeeded by||Sir Morrice James|
|Member of Parliament for Watford|
5 July 1945 – 26 May 1955
|Preceded by||William Helmore|
|Succeeded by||Frederick Farey-Jones|
|Born||19 February 1915|
|Died||20 December 2014(aged 99)|
Elizabeth Allen Johnston
(m. 1938; div. 1948)
Margaret Ista Mabel Kerr
(m. 1948; died 1957)
(m. 1962; div. 1976)
|Alma mater||Brasenose College, Oxford|
|Unit||Coldstream Guards, Rifle Brigade, 7th Armoured Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Major John Horace Freeman (19 February 1915 – 20 December 2014) was a British politician, diplomat, broadcaster and British Army officer. He was the Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Watford from 1945 to 1955.
Freeman was born in a house in the Regent's Park neighbourhood of London on 19 February 1915, the son of a barrister. The family later moved to Brondesbury. He joined the Labour Party whilst a student at Westminster School in the early 1930s, and later obtained his degree at Brasenose College, Oxford. He worked for a time at the advertising firm Ashley Courtenay.
During World War II, Freeman saw active service in the Middle East, North Africa, Italy and North West Europe. He enlisted in the Coldstream Guards, was commissioned in the Rifle Brigade in 1940 and served in Britain's 7th Armoured Division (the "Desert Rats"). Bernard Montgomery called him "my best brigade major". He was appointed MBE in 1943.
Originally, Freeman was on the Bevanite left-wing of the Party, although also supported by Hugh Dalton who liked to go 'talent-spotting' among young MPs. He rose quickly through the ministerial ranks, but resigned along with Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson in 1951 over National Health Service charges. He stood down as an MP at the 1955 general election.
Journalism and public career
In 1962 he described Richard Nixon, then bidding to become governor of California, as “a man of no principle whatsoever except a willingness to sacrifice everything in the cause of Dick Nixon”. Later in the pages of the New Statesman he portrayed Nixon as "a discredited and outmoded purveyor of the irrational and inactive" whose 1964 defeat would be a "victory for decency." In the event Nixon did not run for President in 1964, but instead supported Barry Goldwater, who lost easily.
While Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, Freeman was appointed the High Commissioner to India (1965–1968) and Ambassador to the United States (1969–1971). During his time in Washington he became fast friends with Nixon and Henry Kissinger, and a staunch fan of the Washington Redskins. He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1966.
Freeman became Chairman of London Weekend Television Ltd in 1971, serving until his retirement in 1984. During this period, he wrote an article in 1981 which criticised what he saw as the heavy-handed, interventionist broadcasting policy of the British government expressed in the ethos of the Independent Broadcasting Authority and expressed views that would soon come to be closely associated with Margaret Thatcher and the deregulatory, laissez-faire new school of Conservative Party politics. He was director of several other companies in this period and President of ITN (1976–1981).
When Morgan Morgan-Giles died on 4 May 2013, Freeman became the oldest surviving former MP. He was the last survivor of those elected to Parliament in 1945. Following the death of Tony Benn on 14 March 2014, he was also the last surviving member of the 1950 parliament and the last surviving MP under George VI.
Freeman died on 20 December 2014, aged 99, less than two months before his 100th birthday.
- O'Hagan, Andrew (2 August 2020). "Catherine Freeman". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
- "Journalist John Freeman dies at 99". BBC News. 20 December 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- Purcell, Hugh (7 March 2013). "John Freeman: Face to face with an enigma". New Statesman. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
- Pruden, Wesley (2 January 2015). "Success in a curious turn in Washington". Washington Times. p. B1.
- "No. 38093". The London Gazette. 10 October 1947. p. 4753.
- BBC Face to Face archive. Interviews with: Carl Jung, Bertrand Russell and Dame Edith Sitwell (1959); Adam Faith, Stirling Moss and Evelyn Waugh (1960); and Martin Luther King Jr. (1961).
- Purcell, Hugh (July 2019). "New Statesman letter". New Statesman: 10.