Fitzroy Maclean served as Tory MP for Lancaster from 1941-59, having discovered he could escape from the Foreign Office (and therefore join the army) if he was elected to the House of Commons.

As a diplomat, he was present at Bukharin's Moscow show trial in 1938 and after war service in the Balkans Tito allowed him to own property in Yugoslavia. In 1955, his defeated Labour opponent was Christopher Attlee, nephew of the prime minister. Attlee had stood in Eastbourne in 1951 and ran again in Rutland and Stamford in 1959, but never followed his uncle to the Commons.

Maclean's successor was Humphry Berkeley, whose defeat in 1966 was followed shortly by his defection to Labour. His book Crossing the Floor presaged his defections to the SDP and back to Labour. Archibald Hunter, MP from 1918-22, had been governor of Gibraltar (1910-13), but Gerald Strickland combined his tenure (1924-28) with serving as prime minister of Malta (1927-32), where he was nearly murdered in 1930

This article first appeared in the 02 January 2012 issue of the New Statesman, And you thought 2011 was bad ...