Peter Walker, Baron Walker of Worcester


Peter Walker, Baron Walker of Worcester

Peter Edward Walker, Baron Walker of Worcester, MBE PC (born 25 March 1932) was Conservative MP for Worcester between March 1961 and April 1992, and the founder of the Tory Reform Group. He was a close ally of Edward Heath, and was dismissed from the Shadow Cabinet by Margaret Thatcher when she became leader in February 1975 because he objected to her social and economic policies.

Walker had risen to power through the ranks of the Conservative Party's youth wing, the Young Conservatives. He was a branch chairman at the age of fourteen, and later National Chairman. The Young Conservatives were seen as moulded very much in Walker's image, and were to remain in "wet" hands for several decades and even throughout Mrs Thatcher's premiership, until the election of Andrew Tinney as National Chairman after bitterly-fought internal battles in the late 1980s.

After election to Parliament, Walker quickly entered the Shadow Cabinet in 1965, and served as Minister of Housing and Local Government (1970), Secretary of State for the Environment (1970-72), and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1972-74). Although he did not serve under Mrs Thatcher in opposition, he accepted her offer to return to the Cabinet as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 1979 later serving as Secretary of State for Energy (1983-87). The first of these jobs kept him well away from the economic levers of power, whilst the second saw him much criticised by Thatcherites for his alleged lack of zeal during the 1984-5 Miners' Strike. He then served as Secretary of State for Wales between 1987 and 1990, standing down from the Cabinet shortly before Mrs Thatcher herself was ousted in 1990; although this was ostensibly one of the most junior jobs in the Cabinet he claimed it gave him more influence as he was at last able to sit on key economic committees.

In common with the late Edward Heath, he is a Pro-European Conservative and is a Patron of the Tory Reform Group. Upon his retirement from Parliament in 1992, he was appointed a Life peer, as Baron Walker of Worcester, of Abbots Morton in the County of Hereford and Worcester.

During the 1960s he was the junior partner in Slater Walker, an asset-stripping vehicle used by Jim Slater to generate immense paper profits until 1973. An ill-timed attempt to take over Hill Samuel resulted in the loss of city confidence in Slater Walker and Jim Slater became for a time a "minus millionaire". Peter Walker's political career survived and after retirement from politics he returned to the City as Chairman of Kleinwort Benson.

He is now Chairman of Allianz Insurance plc, Vice Chairman of Dresdner Kleinwort and a non-executive director of ITM Power plc. Peter Walker's son, Robin Walker, has been selected as the Conservative Party candidate for the Worcester constituency.

In August 2007, Walker crashed his Jaguar X-type through the wall of a woman's house, causing an estimated £20,000 worth of damaged and putting the woman in hospital. [cite news|last=Staff writer|title=Woman's shock over cottage crash|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hereford/worcs/6974781.stm|work=BBC News Online|date=2007-09-01|accessdate=2007-09-02]

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