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Robert Maclennan, Baron Maclennan of Rogart

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The Lord Maclennan of Rogart
Official portrait, 2018
President of the Liberal Democrats
In office
1 January 1995 – 31 December 1998
LeaderPaddy Ashdown
Preceded byCharles Kennedy
Succeeded byDiana Maddock
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
In office
3 March 1988 – 16 July 1988
Serving with David Steel
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPaddy Ashdown
Leader of the Social Democratic Party
In office
28 August 1987 – 16 July 1988
Preceded byDavid Owen
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection
In office
4 March 1974 – 4 May 1979
Prime Minister
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
19 July 2001 – 18 January 2020
Life peerage
Member of Parliament
for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
Caithness and Sutherland (1966–1997)
In office
31 March 1966 – 14 May 2001
Preceded byGeorge Mackie
Succeeded byJohn Thurso
Personal details
Robert Adam Ross Maclennan

(1936-06-26)26 June 1936
Glasgow, Scotland
Died18 January 2020(2020-01-18) (aged 83)
London, England
Political party
Helen Cutter Noyes
(m. 1968)
Alma mater

Robert Adam Ross "Bob" Maclennan, Baron Maclennan of Rogart, PC (26 June 1936 – 18 January 2020) was a British Liberal Democrat politician and life peer.

He was the last leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), serving during the negotiations that led to its merger with the Liberal Party in 1988. He then became joint interim leader of the new party, known as the Social and Liberal Democrats (SLD) and later as the Liberal Democrats. He served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1966 to 2001, when he was elevated to the House of Lords.

Early life[edit]

MacLennan was born in Glasgow in 1936.[1] His father, Sir Hector MacLennan, was a renowned gynaecologist and obstetrician.[1] His mother, Isabel Margaret (née Adam), was a physician and public health activist.[1] He was the brother of actor and director David MacLennan, actress and writer Elizabeth MacLennan, and Kenneth MacLennan.[1]

He was educated at Glasgow Academy; Balliol College, Oxford; Trinity College, Cambridge; and Columbia University, New York City.[1] He was called to the bar in 1962 at Gray's Inn and before entering parliament practised as an international lawyer based in London.[2] From 1963 to 1964, he worked at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York.[1]

In Parliament[edit]

Maclennan (then SDP leader) addressing the Liberal Assembly in 1987

He became Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Caithness and Sutherland in 1966, and serving until 1997; and for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross after boundary changes, from 1997 to 2001.[1]

He was first elected as a member of the Labour Party, where he was described as a "gentle Jenkinsite" and served as a junior minister in the Labour government of 1974–1979.[1] In 1981 defected to become a founder member of the SDP, co-founded by Jenkins.[1] Maclennan helped write the party's constitution.[1] He was one of the few SDP MPs to keep their seats in the 1983 general election. After his stint as SDP Leader in 1988, he served as a front bench spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, and as their president from 1994 until 1998.[1]

He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1997.[3]

After his retirement at the 2001 general election, he was raised to the House of Lords, created a life peer as Baron Maclennan of Rogart, of Rogart in Sutherland.[4][5] He was the party's Cabinet Office and Scotland spokesman in the House of Lords until 2015.

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1968, Maclennan married Helen Noyes (née Cutter), daughter of Justice Richard Ammi Cutter of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.[6] As Maclennan's spouse she was Lady Maclennan of Rogart. She had one son from a previous marriage, and a son and a daughter with Maclennan.[2]

Maclennan died at his home in the City of Westminster on 18 January 2020, at age 83.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Torrance, David (2024). "Maclennan, Robert Adam Ross [Bob], Baron Maclennan of Rogart (1936–2020), politician". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.90000381668. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b c Kavanagh, Dennis (19 January 2020). "Lord Maclennan of Rogart obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  3. ^ "Privy Counsellors". Privy Council Office. Archived from the original on 13 September 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  4. ^ "No. 56285". The London Gazette. 25 July 2001. p. 8777.
  5. ^ "No. 25054". The Edinburgh Gazette. 24 July 2001. p. 1673.
  6. ^ For Justice Cutter's stature as an American judge, see a transcript of the court memorial session on the state of Massachusetts's government website accessed March 17, 2024. https://www.mass.gov/person/richard-ammi-cutter

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Caithness and Sutherland

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Social Democratic Party
Position abolished
New office Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Served alongside: David Steel
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Liberal Democrats
Succeeded by