7 politicians who died too soon

During each parliament, a number of politicians pass away from natural or other causes. Many go on to die of old age, but others pass away too soon.

Iain Macleod

When Edward Heath’s Conservatives won the 1970 general election, Macleod was appointed chancellor of the exchequer, however, one month later he died of a heart attack, according to the BBC.

One wonders how history might have turned out if Macleod had not passed away. Could he have gone on to replace Heath before the next election, or could have been the man to beat Margaret Thatcher in 1975?

Jo Cox

Jo Cox was killed one month before the EU referendum in an attack that shook the nation. According to the Guardian, Cox was murdered by Thomas Mair in a “politically motivated attack”. She is now well-remembered and strongly associated with her powerful quote from her maiden speech: “We have more in common than that which divides us”, according to the BBC.

John Smith

Smith was elected Labour leader after Kinnock’s second defeat at the ballot box. He may well have gone on to win as big a landslide as Tony Blair did in 1997, but tragically, in 1994 he suffered a heart attack and died, according to the BBC. Plenty of commentators have wondered what would have happened had Smith not died.

Anthony Crosland

This Labour giant served as foreign secretary under James Callaghan’s premiership before dying aged 58. The New York Times reported that he was seen as a possible future leader. Who knows how history would have turned out for Labour had he not passed away.

Charles Kennedy

The former leader of the Liberal Democrats tragically died shortly after the 2015 general election, at which he lost his seat to the SNP. Originally a Labour member, then SDP member, then Liberal Democrat, he led the Lib Dems between 1999 and 2006.

According to the BBC, a statement from his family said that his death was “caused by a major haemorrhage and the report makes clear this was a consequence of his battle with alcoholism.” The Liberal giant led the party to success in both the 2001 and 2005 general elections, and while he lost his seat in 2015, the Lib Dems quadrupled their seat-count in Scotland in 2017, begging the question about how Kennedy could have fitted into Scotland’s Lib Dem revival.

 And two from abroad:


John F. Kennedy was elected US president in 1960, but was assassinated in 1963. Had he not been killed he could well have gone on to win a second term as the Democrats under Lyndon B. Johnson did in 1964.

Georges Pompidou

Pompidou served as prime minister of France under Charles de Gaulle before going on to become president of his country. Just three years into his presidential term he died of “bone marrow cancer”, which he had reportedly kept secret.