Birth of John Simon, 1st Viscount Simon

In the political history of the 20th century, Sir John Simon cuts a curious figure, often reviled by his contemporaries and lambasted as one of the ‘guilty men’ of the National Government, yet his influence on British politics lasted for nearly 40 years. He was Home Secretary (twice), Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary and Lord Chancellor, a unique collection of the great offices of state. At the start of his career Simon was considered on the left of the party, supporting Lloyd George’s Peoples’ Budget and resigning from the cabinet in 1916 in opposition to the introduction to conscription, but moved steadily to the right in the 1920s – he was a trenchant critic of the General Strike – before splitting with the party over free trade and forming the Liberal National Party, which he led from 1931-40. Simon’s political career ended with Churchill’s 1945 caretaker government, although he still entertained hopes of a return to high office. He died in January 1954.