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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006, 18:25 GMT
Profile: Lady Campbell
Profile
By Jackie Storer
BBC News political reporter

She is widely reported to have encouraged Sir Menzies Campbell's decisions to become an MP, to stand for the role of Commons Speaker and probably to join the race for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats.

Sir Menzies and Lady Campbell collecting his knighthood at Buckingham Palace
'I thought Elspeth was incredibly glamorous,' said Sir Menzies

As someone whose father was portrayed by Sean Connery in A Bridge Too Far, Elspeth Campbell, 66, is far from the retiring political spouse.

She reacted to news of his victory by saying she was "absolutely thrilled", telling reporters Sir Menzies wanted to be much more than just a "caretaker" leader.

But faced with a suggestion from runner-up Chris Huhne that her husband could lead the party into two general elections, Lady Campbell added: "God help us."

Tory background

She is well known for hosting grand dinner parties at the couple's Edinburgh home, for being a fan of Coronation Street and for rarely being without what is described as her trademark cigarette.

All that has been as well as serving as Sir Menzies' parliamentary assistant for the past 18 years.

She has also been "a lady" twice, having acquired the title following a seven-year marriage to her first husband, the Canadian-born baronet Sir Philip Grant Suttie and then a second time as wife of Sir Menzies.

Lady Campbell was born in India in 1940, the daughter of Major General Roy Urquhart.

The family moved to Austria after World War II, and she then went to a convent school in Devon.

According to the Sunday Times, after her A-levels, she went to finishing school and then secured a job at Tory central office in London.

Never say never, Ming
Lady Campbell

In 1962 she married Sir Philip and the couple had a son James.

The paper says it was during the divorce hearing some seven years later that her court lawyer Sir Nicholas Fairbairn - a future Tory MP - decided to introduce her to the young advocate Menzies Campbell.

The couple met in March 1970 and were married in June the same year. They never had children.

Strong woman

Sir Menzies told the Daily Telegraph: "I thought Elspeth was incredibly glamorous.

Actress Julie Goodyear as Bet Lynch in Coronation Street
Lady Elspeth wrote a thesis on Coronation Street
"She had a first-class honours degree from the Open University - her thesis was that Coronation Street is all about strong women and weak men.

"Elspeth is a strong woman."

That strength of purpose was particularly evident when Sir Menzies was interviewed in a car driven by his wife.

Asked if he would rule out being Lib Dem leader indefinitely, he declared: "I rule it out."

Retiring?

To which Lady Campbell was said to have commented: "Never say never, Ming."

It seems the lady has got her way - although she might say otherwise.

Asked at a victory party whether she influenced her husband's leadership bid, she suggested she would have preferred him not to have stood.

She said: "I did say to Ming, what are we doing?

"We should be retiring and sitting in front of the telly. All our friends are retiring."


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