Death of Lord Mackie of Benshie

George Mackie, Lord Mackie of Benshie, a Liberal Democrat peer and the former Liberal MP for Caithness and Sutherland, died last Tuesday at the age of 95.

The war hero survived three operational tours – more than 70 missions – with Bomber Command in the second world war. He picked up a DFC and the DSO along the way.

After the Second World War he took over a farm at Benshie, near Kirriemuir, and subsequently set up a cattle ranch at Braeroy, Inverness-shire, near Spean Bridge.

A successful entrepreneur, he founded several Highland industries, of which Caithness Glass and Caithness Pottery were perhaps the best-known. He also founded Caithness Cheese in what became his parliamentary constituency in the far north of Scotland.

Having first contested South Angus in 1959, he was elected Member of Parliament for Caithness and Sutherland in 1964.

In the Commons he served as Scottish Liberal whip. He lost his seat in 1966, when he was defeated by Labour candidate Robert Maclennan. He contested Caithness and Sutherland again in 1970, but lost by a wider margin.

Having been appointed a Commander of the British Empire in 1971, he was given a life peerage, as Baron Mackie of Benshie, on May 10, 1974.

In the House of Lords he served as Agriculture and Scottish Affairs spokesman for the Liberals and their successor parties between 1975 and 2000.

Having been Chair of the Scottish Liberal Party from 1965 to 1970, he was its President between 1983 and 1988. In 1980, he was elected to serve a term as Rector of the University of Dundee.

Born on the family farm at Tarves, Aberdeenshire, to Maitland Mackie and his wife, Mary (nee Yull), George was the fifth of six children. His older brothers were Sir Maitland Mackie and John Mackie, Baron John-Mackie.

Until his death Lord Mackie was the oldest living person to have served as a Liberal Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom.

Lord Mackie spent his latter years at Oathlaw with his second wife, Jacqui. He is survived by Jacqui, his three daughters, seven granddaughters and four great-grandchildren.