Farmer and politician.

Born: July 10, 1919;

Died: February 17, 2015.

Lord Mackie of Benshie, who has died aged 95, was a farmer but was for two years the Liberal MP for Caithness and Sutherland, and later a life peer. Aided by Jo Grimond's charismatic leadership and campaigning support during the 1964 general election, "the infection of liberalism...spread throughout the Highlands". At his death Mackie was the oldest person to have served as a Liberal MP in the United Kingdom.

George Mackie was born in Ballinshoe, near Kirriemuir in Angus, on 10 July 1919, the son of Dr Maitland Mackie OBE (George's brother was also called Maitland). He went to Tarves School, then secondary school at Methlick, before finishing his schooling at Aberdeen Grammar School. He enrolled at Aberdeen University aged only 16 to study for a BSc in agriculture, but being "a pushing young lout, who hated authority", he decided to join the RAF instead.

But when the grieve (farm manager) left North Ythsie on his father's estate, Mackie took his place. It was fitting, for his forebears had been farmers in Aberdeenshire for more than 300 years. After two years as "a moderately competent" grieve, Mackie finished his training as a stock manager at a farm in Norfolk (having met his future wife Lindsay Lyall Sharp at a Conservative Party dance at Fyvie Castle).

In February 1940, Mackie finally got to join the RAF. Following a year of routine postings in the south of England he was flying Wellington bombers over Germany. He then moved on to Malta and the Middle East, including operations over Banghazi. In 1943 he joined Bomber Harris's Thousand Bomber Raids, flying Lancasters over Berlin. "The sight of great cities burning," he reflected in his memoirs, "the ack ack, tracer, flares and searchlights, with bombs bursting on the target, is one which I will never forget."

In May 1944 he left the RAF having flown in more than 75 operations and was awarded the DSO and DFC. He married Lindsay in Aberdeen then took up a job at Bomber Operations. When the war ended, Mackie's father found him a farm at Benshie in Angus, where he dairy farmed for the next 25 years, only dispersing his herd "with a sigh of relief" in 1970. Thereafter he reared calves. In 1953 he also purchased an estate near Fort William called Braeroy. Guests there included Aneurin Bevan and Jennie Lee, with whom he talked politics.

Mackie first voted Liberal in 1945, joined the party in 1949 and, inspired by the Suez Crisis, contested South Angus at the 1959 general election, where he came a good second. Thereafter he became vice-chairman of the Scottish Liberal Party (he was chairman from 1965-70), which mainly involved fundraising. Mackie could be very blunt. During one by-election the Liberal candidate asked him how he had performed at a public meeting. "All right," replied Mackie, "but I do wish you wouldn't keep hopping from one foot to the other as though you had just shat your breeches."

In 1961 the Liberal leader Jo Grimond urged him to fight Caithness and Sutherland, so Mackie sold Braeroy and ploughed £12,000 of his own money into the campaign. A general election was not called for another three years but Mackie beat the Labour candidate by 1,275 votes. In the Commons he concentrated on farming issues (he had published a Policy for Scottish Agriculture in 1963) and Highland development. When Harold Wilson called a second election in 1966, however, Mackie lost to the Labour candidate (and future SDP/Liberal Democrat MP) Robert Maclennan, despite increasing his share of the vote.

Out of Parliament, Mackie concentrated on farming and business interests, including Caithness Glass, of which he became chairman in 1966. He remained politically active, opposing Grimond's efforts to reach an accommodation with the SNP and contesting Caithness and Sutherland for the third and last time in 1970. Although he considered Jeremy Thorpe to be "lightweight and too fond of the tinsel", he gratefully accepted the Liberal leader's offer of a peerage in 1974, and became Baron Mackie of Benshie.

Unsurprisingly, Mackie reckoned Thorpe ought to resign after becoming engulfed in personal scandal, a stance that cost him an internal election as president of the Scottish Liberal Party (which adored Thorpe). Mackie supported David Steel as leader when Thorpe finally resigned in 1976, and led negotiations on the Scotland and Wales Bill during the short-lived Lib/Lab Pact engineered by the Boy David.

For many years Mackie served on the House of Lords' EEC Scrutiny Sub Committee D, which examined proposed agricultural legislation. During 1979 he was busy in Scotland as a surrogate campaigner for David Steel in his Borders constituency and also as a candidate in the first direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979. He stood in North-East Scotland but was beaten into a respectable second place by the Conservative James Provan.

In 1981 Mackie was elected Rector of Dundee University, serving until 1983. As president of the Scottish Liberal Party from 1983, he valiantly opened proceedings at the 1985 Scottish Liberal Assembly in Dundee even though his wife was dying of leukaemia at a hospital in the same city. Lindsay died shortly after. At the suggestion of Stephen Ross MP, David Steel appointed Mackie a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and of the Western European Union.

He was active in European affairs for 11 years, taking a close interest in agricultural matters while in Strasbourg. In 1988 Mackie married Jacqueline, widow of his former business partner Andrew Lane, and they retired to the hamlet of Oathlaw after selling Benshie in 1989. They travelled widely via the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Mackie remained active in the House of Lords until 2000, although he disapproved of attempts to reform it. "The House of Lords must be an appointed House," he declared in his 2004 memoir Flying, Farming and Politics, "an elected one would be a replica of and a rival to the Commons, which must always have the last word."

Lord Mackie is survived by his second wife Jacqui and three daughters from his first marriage, Diana, Jeannie and Lindsay, an educationalist, who is married to the Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.