Cecil Parkinson


Cecil Parkinson

Infobox_Politician


honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable
name = Cecil Parkinson
honorific-suffix =
Baron Parkinson, PC
birth_date =birth date and age|1931|9|1|df=y
birth_place = Lancaster, UK
office = Chairman of the Conservative Party
term_start = June 1997
term_end = 2 December 1998
predecessor = Brian Mawhinney
successor = Michael Ancram
term_start2 = 14 September 1981
term_end2 = 11 June 1983
predecessor2 = Peter Thorneycroft
successor2 = John Gummer
office3 = Secretary of State for Transport
term_start3 = 24 July 1989
term_end3 = 28 November 1990
predecessor3 = Paul Channon
successor3 = Malcolm Rifkind
office4 = Secretary of State for Energy
term_start4 = 13 June 1987
term_end4 = 24 July 1989
predecessor4 = Peter Walker
successor4 = John Wakeham
office5 = Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
term_start5 = 12 June 1983
term_end5 = 14 October 1983 [The Guardian on 15 October 1983]
predecessor5 = Francis Cockfield (Trade)
Patrick Jenkin (Industry)
successor5 =Norman Tebbit
office6 = Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
term_start6 = 6 April 1982
term_end6 = 11 June 1983
primeminister6 = Margaret Thatcher
predecessor6 = Janet Young
successor6 =Francis Cockfield
party = Conservative

Cecil Edward Parkinson, Baron Parkinson, PC (born 1 September 1931 in Carnforth, Lancashire), is a British Conservative politician and former Cabinet Minister.

Early life

Parkinson had humble origins, being the son of a railway worker and educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, from where he won a scholarship to Cambridge University to read English, later switching to read Law. At University he was a Labour supporter and in fact for a time was a member of the Labour Party. He did National Service as an NCO in the Royal Air Force. He married Anne Jarvis in 1957. They had three daughters.

After University Parkinson worked as a manager for the MetalBox Company, later becoming a consultant. He trained and qualified as an accountant and in 1961 founded Parkinson-Hart securities.

Member of Parliament

In the June 1970 general election he stood as candidate for Northampton but was not elected. Parkinson was elected as MP for Enfield West at a by-election in November 1970, following the death of Iain Macleod. When that constitituency was abolished for the February 1974 general election he was elected for the new South Hertfordshire constituency. After the 1979 General Election, he was made a junior trade minister. In September 1981 he was made Chairman of the Conservative Party, and Paymaster-General with a seat in the cabinet and in 1982 was given the added official title of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Despite his relatively junior status, he was a member of the small War Cabinet which Mrs Thatcher set up to run the Falklands War.

In government

He worked on the Conservative Party's 1983 election campaign, standing in the new Hertsmere constituency after Hertfordshire South's abolition. As a result of his success on the campaign, Mrs Thatcher had intended to promote him to Foreign Secretary, but instead, after being forewarned of certain developments in his private life, she appointed him Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

Parkinson was forced to resign in October 1983 after it was revealed that his former secretary, Sara Keays, was bearing his child, Flora Keays. Subsequently, as a result of a dispute over child maintenance payments, Parkinson (with Keays' initial consent) was able to gain an injunction in 1993, forbidding the British media from making any reference to their daughter. Flora Keays suffers from learning difficulties and Asperger's Syndrome and had an operation to remove a brain tumour when she was four, which is thought to have caused her problems. This court order was the subject of some controversy, until Flora Keays reached her majority at the end of 2001, when the court order expired. Upon Flora turning 18, it was noted in the press that Parkinson had never met his child and presumably had no intention of doing so. While he had assisted with Flora's education and financially her upkeep, it was publicly pointed out that he had not ever sent her a birthday card and that her mother assumed that Flora could not ever expect to receive one.fact|date=May 2008 At the time of the revelation of Parkinson's relationship with Sara Keays in 1983, Parkinson made much of what he described as the volume of supportive letters which he had received. By 2001, however, the media focussed more upon Flora and her difficulties than in protecting Parkinson's reputation, so more voices were raised in criticism of Parkinson.

After four years on the back benches, he was appointed Secretary of State for Energy in 1987 (having been tipped as a potential Chancellor of the Exchequer), and for Transport in the July 1989 reshuffle. One of the highlights in the latter job was announcing new main-line rail tunnels across London, called Crossrail. He resigned along with Margaret Thatcher when she was replaced by John Major; possibly because he was known as a favourite of Mrs Thatcher - who was known to have a soft spot for handsome, charming men such as Parkinson and John Moore. Parkinson knew that whoever succeeded Thatcher, whether it was Major, Michael Heseltine or Douglas Hurd, was unlikely to have kept him in the Cabinet anyway. He stood down at the 1992 general election.

He was created Baron Parkinson, of Carnforth in the County of Lancashire, after the 1992 elections. Shortly afterwards he made a daring appearance on the BBC topical panel show "Have I Got News For You", which at the time - Edwina Currie apart - was still awaiting its first truly top-level Conservative guest who had some history to them. Parkinson, who partnered Paul Merton on the episode, took considerable ribbing (although the injunction prevented any reference to his major scandal) but emerged from the programme intact - even opposing captain and satirist Ian Hislop admitted afterwards that he had come across very well. Parkinson's appearance opened the floodgates for other very high-profile politicians to appear on the programme and display a lighter side to their personalities.

Parkinson also published his memoirs in 1992, in which he claimed that with a determined campaign Mrs Thatcher would have won the Second Ballot of the Conservative Leadership election in 1990, which her Cabinet had warned her she would lose in a successful bid to persuade her to stand down.

hadow Cabinet

Parkinson returned to front-line politics when he was made Conservative Party Chairman again by William Hague in June 1997. He retired from this role in 1998 and has since kept a low profile, although he is a vice-chairman of the Conservative Way Forward group.

Parkinson's affair with Sarah Keays was a running joke with the satirical magazine "Private Eye" for over a decade, with the magazine seldom passing up an opportunity to portray Parkinson as blessed with a voracious sexual appetite. In 1997, when William Hague promised to "bring Unity to the Party", the front cover showed Parkinson adding "she sounds like a splendid girl". In the late 1980s, when Parkinson had objected to Norman Tebbit's treatment of the issue on his memoirs ("Upwardly Mobile"), the front cover had shown each man telling the other "I told you not to stick it in".

Cecil Parkinson has always been backed by his family, and his supportive wife, Ann, has stood beside him all this time. Their three daughters, Emma, Mary and Jo have also supported him; however, he has never met or spoken to Flora, his daughter by Sarah Keays. As such, it is unknown whether Flora supports her father.

In the media

Parkinson was interviewed about the rise of Thatcherism for the 2006 BBC TV documentary series "Tory! Tory! Tory!".

Footnotes

References


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