Michael Howard

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Howard of Lympne
CH PC QC
Michael Howard 1099 cropped.jpg
Michael Howard delivering a speech
Leader of the Opposition
In office
6 November 2003 – 6 December 2005
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Iain Duncan Smith
Succeeded by David Cameron
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
6 November 2003 – 6 December 2005
Preceded by Iain Duncan Smith
Succeeded by David Cameron
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
18 September 2001 – 6 November 2003
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by Michael Portillo
Succeeded by Oliver Letwin
Shadow Foreign Secretary
In office
12 June 1997 – 15 June 1999
Leader William Hague
Preceded by John Major
Succeeded by John Maples
Shadow Home Secretary
In office
2 May 1997 – 11 June 1997
Leader John Major
Preceded by Jack Straw
Succeeded by Brain Mawhinney
Home Secretary
In office
27 May 1993 – 2 May 1997
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Kenneth Clarke
Succeeded by Jack Straw
Secretary of State for the Environment
In office
11 April 1992 – 27 May 1993
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Michael Heseltine
Succeeded by John Gummer
Secretary of State for Employment
In office
3 January 1990 – 11 April 1992
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
John Major
Preceded by Norman Fowler
Succeeded by Gillian Shephard
Member of Parliament
for Folkestone and Hythe
In office
9 June 1983 – 6 May 2010
Preceded by Sir Albert Costain
Succeeded by Damian Collins
Personal details
Born Michael Hecht
(1941-07-07) 7 July 1941 (age 72)
Gorseinon, Wales
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Sandra Paul (m. 1975)
Children Nicholas
Larissa
Alma mater Peterhouse, Cambridge
Inner Temple
Profession Barrister
Religion Judaismcitation needed

Michael Howard, Baron Howard of Lympne, CH, PC, QC (born 7 July 1941) is a British politician who served as the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from November 2003 to December 2005. He had previously held cabinet positions in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, including Secretary of State for Employment, Secretary of State for the Environment and Home Secretary.

Howard was born in Gorseinon, South Wales. He joined the Young Conservatives at 15 and studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge. In 1964 he was called to the Bar and became a Queen's Counsel in 1982. He became a Member of Parliament (MP) in the 1983 General Election, representing the constituency of Folkestone and Hythe. This quickly led to promotion and Howard became Minister for Local Government in 1987. Under John Major (1990–1997), he held several cabinet positions including Secretary of State for Employment (1990–1992) and Home Secretary (1993–1997).

Following the Conservative Party's defeat in the 1997 General Election, Howard unsuccessfully made a bid for the post of Conservative Party Leader and held the posts of Shadow Foreign Secretary (1997–1999) and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (2001–2003). In November 2003, following the Conservative Party's vote of no confidence in its Leader Iain Duncan Smith, he was elected unopposed. In the 2005 General Election, the Conservatives gained 33 new seats in Westminster, including five from the Liberal Democrats, but this still gave them only 198 seats to Labour's 355. Following the election, Howard resigned as Leader of the Conservative Party and was succeeded by David Cameron. Howard did not contest his seat of Folkestone and Hythe in the 2010 General Election and entered the House of Lords as Baron Howard of Lympne.

Early life

Howard was born Michael Hecht1 in Gorseinon, in the northwest of Swansea, Wales. He is the son of Bernat Hecht, a Romanian-born shopkeeper, who came to Britain in 1939.2 His mother, Hilda (Kershion), was the daughter of immigrants from Russia. Both of Howard's parents were from Jewish families.34 When Howard was six, the family name, Hecht, was anglicized to Howard.1

Howard passed his Eleven-plus exam in 1952 and then attended Llanelli Boys' Grammar School. He joined the Young Conservatives at age 15. He obtained eight O-levels and his subsequent A-levels earned him a place at Peterhouse at Cambridge University. He was President of the Cambridge Union Society in 1962. After taking a 2:1 in the first part of the economics tripos, he switched to law and graduated with a 2:2 in 1962.

He was one of a cluster of Conservative students at Cambridge University around this time, sometimes referred to as the "Cambridge Mafia", many of whom held high government office under Margaret Thatcher and John Major. (See: Cambridge University Conservative Association)

Howard was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1964 and specialised in employment and planning law. Unlike his many Cambridge contemporaries, he continued his career at the Bar, becoming a practising Queen's Counsel in 1982 (unlike many barrister-MPs who are awarded the title as an honorific despite no longer practising at the Bar).

The late 1960s saw Howard's promotion within the Bow Group, where he became Chairman in April 1970. At the Conservative Party conference in October 1970, he made a notable speech commending the government for attempting to curb trade union power and also called for state aid to strikers' families to be reduced or stopped altogether, a policy which the Thatcher government pursued over a decade later.

In the 1970s, Howard was a leading advocate of British membership of the Common Market (EEC) and served on the board of the cross-party Britain in Europe group.

Howard was named as co-respondent in the high profile divorce case of 1960s model Sandra Paul (now Sandra Howard). They subsequently married in 1975. Their son Nicholas was born in 1976 and daughter Larissa in 1977.

Member of Parliament

At the 1966 general election and 1970 general election, Howard unsuccessfully contested the safe Labour parliamentary constituency of Liverpool Edge Hill. These early races led to his strong support for Liverpool F.C., which he has retained.

In June 1982, Howard was selected to contest the constituency of Folkestone and Hythe in Kent after the sitting Conservative MP, Sir Albert Costain, decided to retire. Howard won the seat at the 1983 general election.

In government

Howard gained quick promotion, becoming Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry in 1985 with responsibility for regulating the financial dealings of the City of London. This junior post became very important, as he oversaw the Big Bang introduction of new technology in 1986. After the 1987 general election, he became Minister for Local Government. Following a proposal from backbench MP David Wilshire, he accepted the amendment which would become Section 28 (prohibiting local governments from the "promotion" of homosexuality) and defended its inclusion.

Howard guided the 1988 Local Government Finance Act through the House of Commons. The act brought in Margaret Thatcher's new system of local taxation, officially known as the Community Charge but almost universally nicknamed the "poll tax". Howard personally supported the tax and won Thatcher's respect for minimising the rebellion against it within the Conservative Party. After a period as Minister for Water and Planning in 1988–89, during which he was responsible for implementing water privatisation in England and Wales, Howard was promoted to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Employment in January 1990 following the resignation of Norman Fowler. He subsequently guided through legislation abolishing the closed shop, and campaigned vigorously for Thatcher in the first ballot of the 1990 Conservative Party leadership contest, although he told her a day before she resigned that he felt she wasn't going to win and that John Major was better placed to defeat Michael Heseltine.

He retained his cabinet post under John Major and campaigned against trade union power during the 1992 general election campaign. His work in the campaign led to his appointment as Secretary of State for the Environment in the reshuffle after the election. In this capacity he encouraged the United States to participate in the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, but shortly afterwards he was appointed Home Secretary in a 1993 reshuffle initiated by the sacking of Norman Lamont as Chancellor.

Home Secretary

As Home Secretary he pursued a tough approach to crime, summed up in his sound bite, "prison works". During his time as Home Secretary, offences fell by 16.8 per cent.5

Howard repeatedly clashed with judges and prison reformers as he sought to clamp down on crime through a series of 'tough' measures, such as reducing the right to silence of defendants in their police interviews and at their trials as part of 1994's Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. Howard voted for the reintroduction of the death penalty for the killing of police officers on duty and for murders carried out with firearms in 1983 and 1990, though he voted against it for cold-blooded and premeditated murder in 1987 and 1990. In 1991 he changed his mind and became against the reintroduction of the death penalty, regardless of the crime, and voted against it again in February 1994.

In 1993, after the murder of James Bulger, two eleven-year-old boys were convicted of his murder and sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure, with a recommended a minimum term of eight years. Lord Taylor of Gosforth, the Lord Chief Justice, ordered that the two boys should serve a minimum of ten years.6 The editors of The Sun newspaper handed a petition bearing nearly 280,000 signatures to Howard, in a bid to increase the time spent by both boys in custody.7

This campaign was successful, and in July 1994 Howard announced that the boys would be kept in custody for a minimum of fifteen years,78 meaning that they would not be considered for release until February 2008, by which time they would be 25 years of age.6

A former Master of the Rolls, Lord Donaldson, criticised Howard's intervention, describing the increased tariff as "institutionalised vengeance ... [by] a politician playing to the gallery".6 The increased minimum term was overturned in 1997 by the House of Lords, who ruled that it was "unlawful" - (the decision was declared substantively "ultra vires") - for the Home Secretary to decide on minimum sentences for young offenders.9 The High Court and European Court of Human Rights have since ruled that, though Parliament may set minimum and maximum terms for individual categories of crime, it is the responsibility of the trial judge, with the benefit of all the evidence and argument from both prosecution and defence counsel, to determine the minimum term in individual criminal cases.8

Prison escapes controversy

His reputation was dented on 13 May 1997 when a critical inquiry into a series of prison escapes was published. In advance of the publication Howard made statements to assign blame to the prison service. Television interviewer Jeremy Paxman asked him the same question 12 times in all during an edition of the Newsnight programme. Asking whether Howard had intervened when Derek Lewis sacked a prison governor, Paxman asked: "Did you threaten to overrule him?" Howard did not give a direct answer, instead repeatedly saying that he "did not instruct him" and ignoring the "threaten" part of the question.10 Paxman resumed his question in another interview in 2004. A surprised Howard remarked: "Oh come on Jeremy, are you really going back over that again? As it happens, I didn't. Are you satisfied now?" Secret Home Office papers partially vindicated Howard but show that Howard asked a top civil servant if he had the power to overrule the Prison Service director general.11

Six days after the 1997 Newsnight interview, Ann Widdecombe, his former minister of state at the Home Office, made a statement in the House of Commons about the dismissal of then director of the Prison Service, Derek Lewis, and remarked of Howard that "there is something of the night about him", a widely quoted comment that may have contributed to the failure of his 1997 bid for the Conservative Party leadership. The comment was taken by some as a reference to his dour demeanour, which was implied as being sinister and almost Dracula-like, and related to his Romanian ancestry.

First attempt to win party leadership

Following the 1997 resignation of John Major, Howard and William Hague announced they would be running on the same ticket, with Howard as leader and Hague as Deputy Leader and Party Chairman. The day after they agreed this, Hague decided to run on his own. Howard also stood but his campaign was marred by attacks on his record as Home Secretary.

Howard came in last out of five candidates with the support of only 23 MPs in the first round of polling for the leadership election. He then withdrew from the race and endorsed the eventual winner William Hague. Howard served as Shadow Foreign Secretary for the next two years but retired from the Shadow Cabinet in 1999, though remaining an MP.

Leader of the Opposition

After the 2001 general election, Howard was recalled to frontline politics when the Conservative Party's new leader, Iain Duncan Smith, appointed him Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. His performances in the post won him much praise, indeed under his guidance the Conservatives decided to debate the economy on an 'Opposition Day' for the first time in several years. After Duncan Smith was removed from the leadership, Howard was elected unopposed as leader of the party in November 2003. As leader, he faced much less discontent within the party than any of his three predecessors and was seen as a steady hand. He avoided repeating such managerial missteps as Duncan Smith's firing of David Davis as Conservative Party Chairman, and imposed discipline quickly and firmly; he removed the party whip from Ann Winterton after she joked about 23 Chinese migrants' death.

In February 2004, Howard called on PM Tony Blair to resign over the Iraq war, for failing to ask "basic questions" regarding WMD claims and misleading Parliament.12 In July the Conservative leader stated that he would not have voted for the motion that authorised the Iraq war had he known the quality of intelligence information on which the WMD claims were based. At the same time, he said he still believed in the Iraq invasion was right because "the prize of a stable Iraq was worth striving for".13 His criticism of Blair did not earn Howard any sympathy in Washington DC, where President Bush refused to meet him. Karl Rove is reported to have told Howard, "you can forget about meeting the president. Don't bother coming."14 Howard only gave a lukewarm response to Bush's re-election as President in November 2004. He also gave a very negative response to Bush's foreign policy.

Howard was named 2003 Parliamentarian of the Year by The Spectator and Zurich UK. This was in recognition of his performance at the dispatch box in his previous role as Shadow Chancellor. However, 12 months after he became party leader, his personal popularity with the public had not increased from that of several years before. Neither had that of his party in the opinion polls.

Crossing swords with Paxman again

In November 2004, Newsnight again concentrated on Howard with coverage of a campaign trip to Cornwall and an interview with Jeremy Paxman. The piece, which purported to show that members of the public were unable to identify Howard and that those who recognised him did not support him, was the subject of an official complaint from the Conservative Party. The complaint argued that the Newsnight team spoke only to people who held opinions against either Michael Howard or the Conservatives and that Paxman's style was bullying and unnecessarily aggressive. In this programme, Paxman also returned to his question from 1997.

2005 general election

In the 2005 general election (on 5 May 2005), Howard's Conservative Party failed to unseat the Labour government, although the Conservatives did gain 33 seats (including five from the Liberal Democrats) and Labour's majority shrank from 167 to 66. The Conservatives were left with 198 seats to Labour's 355. The Conservative share of the national vote increased by 0.6% from 2001 and 1.6% from 1997. The party ended with 32.4% of the total votes casts, which was within 3% of Labour on 35.2%. Commentatorswho? pointed to the state of Britain's constituency boundaries coupled with the first-past-the-post British voting system and the distribution of votes within constituencies, claiming that together they favour the Labour Party. It is estimatedby whom? that changes proposed by the Boundary Commission for England would result in a gain of 10–20 seats for the Conservatives with no change in the vote.citation needed

The day after the election, Howard stated in a speech in the newly gained Conservative seat in Putney that he would not lead the party into the next general election as, already aged 63, he would be "too old" by that stage, and that he would stand down "sooner rather than later", following a revision of the Conservative leadership electoral process. Despite the election of a third consecutive Labour government, Howard described the election as "the beginning of a recovery" for the Conservative party following Labour's landslide victories in 1997 and 2001.15

Howard's own constituency of Folkestone and Hythe had been heavily targeted by the Liberal Democrats as the most sought after prize of their failed "decapitation" strategy of seeking to gain seats from prominent Conservatives. Yet Howard almost doubled his majority to 11,680, while the Liberal Democrats saw their vote fall.

Criticism of 2005 campaign

During the 2005 campaign, Howard was criticised by some commentators for conducting a campaign which addressed the issues of immigration, asylum seekers and travellers, when he himself was the descendant of immigrants. Others pointed out that the continued media coverage of such issues created most of the controversy and that Howard merely defended his views when questioned at unrelated policy launches.

Some evidence suggested that the public generally supported policies proposed by the Conservative Party when they were not told which party had proposed them, indicating that the party still had an image problem. Conservative John Major's 30% lead in 1992 amongst the sought after ABC1 voters (e.g. doctors, lawyers, managers) had all but disappeared by 2005;16 it is widely-believed that the focus of the 2005 campaign on issues such as immigration and crime did not reverse the Conservatives's reputation as "the nasty party", and did not return many educated professionals to the party.

The campaign focus on immigration may have been influenced by Howard's election adviser Lynton Crosby, who earlier had run similar tactics in Australian elections.17 Whether the hiring of Crosby was a good idea or not in hindsight, his organisation of the campaign was credited with making the Conservative election drive much more professional and organised than at the previous election. Crosby was later re-hired by the Conservative Party to run their successful campaign in the 2008 London Mayor election.

In the lead up to the election campaign, Howard continued to impose strong party discipline, controversially forcing the deselection of Danny Kruger (Sedgefield), Robert Oulds and Adrian Hilton (both Slough) and Howard Flight (Arundel & South Downs).

Resignation

Despite announcing after the 2005 general election that he would vacate the role of party leader, Howard performed a substantial reshuffle of the party's front bench in which several rising star MPs were given their first shadow portfolios, including George Osborne and David Cameron. This move cleared the way for David Cameron (who had worked for Howard as a Special Advisor when the latter was Home Secretary) to run for the Conservative Party leadership.

The reforms to the party's election process took a number of months and Howard remained in his position for six months after the elections. During that period, he enjoyed a fairly pressure-free time, often making joking comparisons between himself and Tony Blair, both of whom had declared they would not stand at the next general election. He also oversaw Blair's first parliamentary defeat, when the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats and sufficient Labour Party rebels voted against government proposals to extend to 90 days the period that terror suspects could be held for without charge. Howard stood down as leader in December 2005 and was replaced by David Cameron.

Retirement

Insignia of C.H.

Howard announced on 17 March 2006 that he would stand down as MP for Folkestone and Hythe at the 2010 election.18 On 13 July 2006 the Conservatives selected Damian Collins to stand in his place at that election.

On 19 June 2006 the International Herald Tribune reported that Michael Howard would become chairman of Diligence Europe, a private intelligence and risk assessment company founded by former CIA and MI5 members.1920

On 23 October 2006, Michael Howard revealed that he had voluntarily been questioned as a potential witness concerning the "Cash for Peerages" investigation surrounding fundraising and the 2005 election campaign. He was not suspected of any criminal activity,21 was not accused of any criminal activity and gave evidence purely as a witness in an investigation focusing primarily on the Labour Government's use of the peerages system and their party fundraising.

On 22 February 2007, Howard became an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society.

On 28 May 2010, it was announced in the Dissolution Honours List that Michael Howard would become a Conservative life peer in the House of Lords.22 His title was gazetted in the afternoon of 13 July 2010 as Baron Howard of Lympne, of Lympne in the County of Kent.23 He was formally introduced into the House of Lords on 20 July 2010 at 2:20pm, and attended Questions and debate later that day. He was introduced to the Chamber by past colleague Norman Lamont.24

In 2010, it was announced David Cameron wanted Howard to join his Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, possibly as Lord Chancellor, via the House of Lords as part of David Cameron's appeal to rightwing Tories. However, it did not happen, Lord Howard having criticised the government's proposal for a 'rehabilitation revolution'.2526

In February 2011 there was increased speculation that David Cameron would reshuffle his cabinet, with Lord Howard brought in to replace Kenneth Clarke as Secretary of State for Justice. However, the post went to Chris Grayling.2728

Howard was appointed a Companion of Honour in the 2011 Birthday Honours.2930

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Cohen, Nick (2 November 2003). "What's in a name?". The Observer (London: Guardian News & Media). Retrieved 11 September 2008. 
  2. ^ "News - Michael Howard". London: independent.co.uk. 13 April 2002. Retrieved 13 April 2002. 
  3. ^ From Transylvania to Smith Square | Politics. The Guardian (2003-11-01). Retrieved on 2013-08-15.
  4. ^ Druglord: Guns, Powder and Pay-Offs - Graham Johnson - Google Books. Books.google.ca. Retrieved on 2013-08-15.
  5. ^ Channel4, FactCheck: Spoof Howard Cv needs policing.
  6. ^ a b c Davenport-Hines, Richard (2004). "Bulger, James Patrick (1990–1993), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2 October 2009.  (Subscription Required)
  7. ^ a b James Bulger killing: the case history of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson The Guardian 3 March 2010
  8. ^ a b "New sentencing rules: Key cases". BBC. 7 May 2003. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  9. ^ "Outrage at call for Bulger killers' release". BBC. 28 October 1999. 
  10. ^ "Newsnight - Jeremy Paxman biography". BBC News. 10 October 2006. Retrieved 17 April 2010. 
  11. ^ Travis, Alan (2 March 2005). "Secret Home Office papers on prison row fail to clear Howard". The Guardian (London). 
  12. ^ "Howard calls for Blair to resign". BBC News. 5 February 2004. 
  13. ^ "At-a-glance Iraq debate". BBC News. 20 July 2004. 
  14. ^ "Howard hits out at Bush aides". BBC News. 28 August 2004. 
  15. ^ "Howard will stand down as leader". BBC News. 6 May 2005. 
  16. ^ Progress | News and debate from the progressive community | Progress Online. Progressives.org.uk. Retrieved on 2013-08-15.
  17. ^ "Lynton Crosby globetrotting, spreading dirty dog whistles". Fixing Australia. 18 April 2005. 
  18. ^ "UK | UK Politics | Michael Howard stands down as MP". BBC News. 17 March 2006. Retrieved 17 April 2010. 
  19. ^ Former Tory leader to head risk firm International Herald Tribune 19 June 2006
  20. ^ "Diligence announces addition of Michael Howard to Advisory Board". Diligencellc.com. Retrieved 17 April 2010. dead link
  21. ^ Howard quizzed in honours probe BBC News 23 October 2006
  22. ^ "Peerages, honours and appointments". 10 Downing Street. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  23. ^ The London Gazette: no. 59491. p. 13713. 19 July 2010.
  24. ^ House of Lords Future Business, 20 July 2010
  25. ^ Dale, Iain; Brivati, Brian (4 October 2010). "Top 100 most influential Right-wingers: 75-51". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  26. ^ Newsnight on Gordon Browns regination as Party Leader with Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman.AVI. YouTube. Retrieved on 2013-08-15.
  27. ^ Stratton, Allegra (20 February 2011). "Kenneth Clarke offers hope to Tory critics of human rights court". The Guardian (London). 
  28. ^ Helm, Toby (19 February 2011). "Tory MPs press David Cameron for cabinet reshuffle". The Guardian (London). 
  29. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59808. p. 26. 11 June 2011.
  30. ^ [1] Cabinet Office, 11 June 2011

External links


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Albert Costain
Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe
19832010
Succeeded by
Damian Collins
Political offices
Preceded by
Norman Fowler
Secretary of State for Employment
1990–1992
Succeeded by
Gillian Shephard
Preceded by
Michael Heseltine
Secretary of State for the Environment
1992–1993
Succeeded by
John Gummer
Preceded by
Kenneth Clarke
Home Secretary
1993–1997
Succeeded by
Jack Straw
Preceded by
John Major
Shadow Foreign Secretary
1997–1999
Succeeded by
John Maples
Preceded by
Michael Portillo
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
2001–2003
Succeeded by
Oliver Letwin
Preceded by
Iain Duncan Smith
Leader of the Opposition
2003–2005
Succeeded by
David Cameron
Party political offices
Preceded by
Iain Duncan Smith
Leader of the British Conservative Party
2003–2005
Succeeded by
David Cameron







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