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Frederick Walter Scott Craig (10 December 1929 - 23 March 1989) was a Scottishmarker psephologist and compiler of reference books. Starting off in public relations, he compiled election results in his spare time, and later launched his own business. A difficult man to work with, he suffered poor health and took his own life.

F.W.S.
Craig

Early life

Craig was a native of Glasgowmarker where he worked in public relations. He was active in the Scottish Unionist Party Association, and in the 1950s was invited to contribute an 'Election Manual' of election results to the Yearbook for Scotland, which the party published. Craig was unhappy with existing sources for election statistics and undertook research himself to correct the vote figures and discover the source of independent candidates, and his election manual became highly respected.

Political activity

In 1964, Craig acted as election Agent for the Unionist parliamentary candidate in Rutherglen. He twice fought for election to the Glasgow City Corporation in the mid-1960s, the first as an Independent candidate against the 'Progressive Party', a local alliance between Conservatives and Liberals which controlled the council. His research into elections continued and widened from Scotland to the whole of the United Kingdommarker, and he compiled a card index to all elections from 1918 onwards.

Reference books

Craig took a decisive step in 1968 when he set up Political Reference Publications, in order to publish his work. The first book to be published was British Parliamentary Election Statistics 1918-1966 which summarised the results of every general election as well as giving a wealth of other information. Critical reception was very positive and Craig always considered it his favourite book. It has continued to be updated, under the title British Electoral Facts.

His series of British Parliamentary Election Results began to appear the next year with the volume for 1918-1949. The series has been completed to run from the Reform Act of 1832 to date. Craig also started the Political Companion, a quarterly update, which ran from 1969 to 1983. His work was a family affair with his wife Phyllis helping with the production and administration, and his daughters undertaking the proofreading. Craig pioneered the use of technology and put the source data onto computer readable tape; the distinctive clear layout of his books was a result of his use of early computer typesetting.

Expanding company

In 1970 he moved to Chichestermarker in West Sussexmarker and established another company, Parliamentary Research Services, which eventually took over all his activities. His public relations background led to new lines of business including compilation of activities of Members of Parliament from votes in the House of Commons. He was also elected to Chichester District Council, though found it difficult to find the time. He was part of the BBC team, albeit behind the camera, on their programme covering the 1970 general election; in 1974 he switched to ITV.

However Craig could be a difficult man to work with. If there was a discrepancy in some of his calculations he would stay up all night until he had found it. In his later years he experienced ill health, and with all Parliamentary election results since 1832 already researched, his books were merely being revised. His death in 1989 was the result of suicide. After his death, his papers were given to Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher of the University of Plymouthmarker.

Bibliography




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