Active in in politics as the Vice Chairman of the Young Liberals, he sensationally captured the Conservative parliamentary seat of Sutton and Cheam at a by-election in December 1972, his first electoral contest.
Although he lost his parliamentary seat at the next general election February 1972, he returned to politics in 1974. He was a Liberal and later Liberal Democrat councillor representing Sutton Central on Sutton London Borough Council for forty years before stepping down in 2014. He was made a life peer in 1994.
When the inaugural elections to the London Assembly were held in 2000, Tope became a London-wide assembly member and leader of the Liberal Democrat group. He relinquished the leadership in 2006 and stood down from the assembly in 2008.
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