The Hon. Samuel Thomas Richardson, MP (January 3, 1951-April 16, 2006) was a Georgeland politician. From December 2003 until his death in April 2006, he was the leader of the Conservative Party of Georgeland and Leader of the Opposition. He was the son of Thomas Richardson, who was Prime Minister of Georgeland from 1967 to 1970. On April 16, 2006, Richardson's career was cut short when he suffered a massive heart attack attending a Conservative party dinner and died, at the age of 55.
Richardson was born into a wealthy family - his grandfather Norman Richardson was the head of WatCo and later Governor of the Bank of Georgeland. Richardson's father was Thomas Richardson, who was a Tory Prime Minister from 1967 until 1970. Richardson's mother, Sally Richardson, was his father's chief of staff, the first woman to hold such a high position and a trailblazer in the 1960s. Sally Richardson is still revered by feminists as an icon, despite her ties to the Conservative Party. Richardson recived a private school education, including time at boarding school, during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1972 he entered the University of Mainland, and the following year was accepted on a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford. He studied law and economics, earning degrees in both by 1978. In 1980 he followed his father into politics, running for and winning the blue-ribbon Tory seat of Snetterton in Doubledance at a by-election caused by the death of Duncan Charlesworth, who had succeeded Richardson's father in 1971.
Richardson, at 29, was the youngest MP in the House. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the current Prime Minister, Robert Fisch, and embraced the economic and social policies of Thatcherism, firmly identifying himself with his party's 'dry' faction. In 1985, Richardson began his long stint as a Tory front-bencher, being named Shadow Minister for Justice and the Coast Guard. This was followed by a change to Industrial Development in 1986, Welfare in 1989 and Finance in 1993. When the Tories won the 1995 election under Eric Edge, Richardson had expected to be named Finance Minister but was instead placed out of cabinet as Minister for Financial Services & Banks. This caused a rift between Edge and Richardson that was never healed. When the Tories lost office eight months later, Richardson became Shadow Minister for Industry and Commerce, before again becoming Shadow Minister for Finance in 1996. During the three-week-long caretaker government of Michael Fisch following Labour's split, Richardson became Minister for Finance. After the election he was Shadow Minister for Employment, and his name began to be mentioned as a potential leader. He supported Mary Byrne's challenge to Fisch's leadership after becoming Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2000. In 2003, he became very much the natural successor to Michael Fisch during Fisch's second stint as leader, and was promoted to the coveted Shadow Treasurer portfolio, as well as being made Manager of Opposition Business. Richardson challenged Fisch for the leadership in September 2003, and after Fisch withdrew, Richardson defeated Nick Sheridan to become the new Leader of the Conservative Party.
Leader of the Opposition
Public perception of Richardson shifted over time. Initially, polls showed voters thought of him as 'just another Tory', espousing the same views and having the same style as his predecessors. Over time, however, Richardson developed a distinct, unique image.
Richardson was seen by many as the most electable Conservative leader in years. He has been helped in this by the infighting within the LDP, which made the Tories look stable. Richardson's supporters viewed him as the saviour of the Tory Party; his detractors still believed he was no different to other Conservatives - blustering and full of rhetoric.
Richardson's image was aided by his approach to policy and debate. In the past, Conservative leaders did tend towards the blustering - attacking governments as 'immorral' despite having no alternative policy and no regard for public opinion. Richardson largely ignored the morality issue, concentrating on issues of security and economy, which helped him to be seen as displaying more leadership than his predecessors.
The satirical TV show A Cynic is a Realist portrayed Richardson as Jabba-the-Hut for its first season in 2004, with one sketch showing him dropping Xavier McLaren into a pit where he was eaten by a monster. Complaints were recieved by viewers at this portrayal, which they said made unfair light of Richardson's weight. For the 2005 series, Richardson was portrayed by comedian Dale Parris as an army general obsessed with 'security' but with little or no comment on Richardson's appearance. Following Richardson's death, this character was discontinued as a mark of respect.
Richardson, throughout 2003 and 2004, became a rare example of a politician able to shape his image in the media through changing his name. Prior to becoming Leader of the Opposition, Richardson was referred to almost universally as "Samuel Richardson". After he took over the Tory leadership, politicians, staffers, the press and, in time, the community-at-large began referring to him by the more familiar "Sam". This was a political master stroke, as it softened his image and made him seem more colloquial and friendly, particularly among undecided voters.
Family and Personal Life
Richardson was married to Margaret Richardson (b. 1955), who he met while a member of the Young Conservatives. They married in 1979. He had four children - three daughters - Alice (b. 1981) Rebecca (b. 1986) and Miranda (b. 1993), and a son, Patrick (b. 1990)
Richardson was attending a Conservative Party dinner in Doubledance together with his deputy, Luke Macaulay, when he complained of chest pain and shortness of breath. His symptons became steadily worse and an ambulance was called. The Leader of the Opposition was rushed to St. Martin's Hospital in Doubledance where surgeons operated, but they were unable to save his life. Richardson was pronounced dead at 9:12 pm on April 16, 2006. Eerily, he died while an interview with him, recorded the previous week, was still being broadcast on the GBC.
- "No matter who wins, you get a Rhodes."
- Remarks during the 2005 election campaign, referring to his Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford.
- "Government cannot be trusted to be parents, guardians, managers or lifeguards. Government can be trusted to do very little. Except for the Rhodes government, which can't be trusted at all."
- During the 2005 election campaign.
- "The people of Georgeland have a spirit that will prevail over all else."
- Richardson was a baritone and at one point seriously considered an operatic career. He remains an opera devotee.
- Richardson was a descendent of the famous English novellist, also called Samuel Richardson, and has a complete set of his ancestor's works.
- Richardson was a devout Anglican
- Despite his operatic love, Richardson was also a fan of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
- Richardson weighed about 127 kg (280 lb), which would have made him Georgeland's third-heaviest Prime Minister if he had ever become so.
- Richardson was one of the few Georgeland politicians to openly smoke - he was a smoker of cigars rather than cigarettes, however. His smoking may well have contributed to his fatal heart attack.
- Supported Doubledance United Football Club.
|Leader of the Conservative Party of Georgeland|
October 1, 2003-April 16, 2006