He is the most famous person ever to serve as Member of Parliament for Shrewsbury. He was in his thirties when he first came here, and had already been an M.P. for a couple of years, but had left his previous constituency because of a dispute over election expenses. At this stage in his career he was not taken very seriously; in fact he was widely regarded as a figure of fun. In addition, he had built up enormous debts which he had no prospect of ever paying off. Despite all this, and despite a bitterly contested election which featured vicious personal attacks, a nation-wide swing towards his party helped him to be elected as Member for Shrewsbury.
During the next few years he emerged for the first time as a front-rank political figure. Having been denied office, he became famous for his witty and devastating attacks on his own party’s leaders, with such effect that he succeeded in bringing down the government. He also found the time to write three best-selling novels on political themes. He did not stay in Shrewsbury for long, because at the next election he transferred to Buckingham. His financial position was scarcely any better than before, but his rich friends were so impressed with his talents that they helped him to buy his own country house in his new constituency.
He never set foot in the Shrewsbury again, but he left the town as one of the highest-profile politicians in the land. Even so, hardly anyone at the time would have predicted that he would go on to become one of Britain’s most famous Prime Ministers.
So who was he?
(The answer will follow shortly)