John Nott

John Nott

Infobox Politician

honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable
name =Sir John Nott
birth_date =Birth date and age|1932|2|1|df=y
birth_place =Bideford, Devon, UK
office = Secretary of State for Defence
term_start =5 January 1981
term_end = 12 June 1983
primeminister = Margaret Thatcher
predecessor = Francis Pym
successor =Michael Heseltine
office2 = Secretary of State for Trade
President of the Board of Trade
term_start2 = 4 May 1979
term_end2 = 5 January 1981
predecessor2 = John Smith
successor2 = John Biffen
party = Conservative

Sir John William Frederic Nott (born 1 February 1932 in Bideford, Devon) is a former British Conservative Party politician prominent in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He featured heavily in the public eye as Secretary of State for Defence during the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands and the subsequent Falklands War.

Early life

John Nott was commissioned in the 2nd Gurkha Rifles in Malaysia (1952-1956), he left to study law and economics at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was President of the Cambridge Union Society. At Cambridge he met his future wife Miloshka, herself a refugee from Communist Slovenia (Yugoslavia). They have two sons and a daughter.

Member of Parliament

Nott was Member of Parliament for St Ives in Cornwall from 1966 to 1983. Interestingly, John Nott was the last person to commence his parliamentary career under the near-obsolete National Liberal label. The National Liberals were formally absorbed by the Conservatives in 1968, and thereafter Nott sat as a Conservative MP.

In government

Nott served in the early 1970s cabinet of Prime Minister Ted Heath. He rejoined the Cabinet when Margaret Thatcher won the 1979 general election. He served first as the President of the Board of Trade and was moved to Defence in the reshuffle of January 1981.

He was widely criticized by the Royal Navy chiefs for his decision to cut back on government naval expenditure during the severe economic recession of the early 1980s — the cuts originally included the proposed scrapping of the Antarctic patrol ship HMS Endurance, shortly before the outbreak of the Falklands War.

Resignation and retirement

Nott offered his resignation to Thatcher following the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands in March 1982. Unlike then Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, however, the resignation was not accepted. Nott remained Secretary of State for Defence throughout the four-month conflict. He was eventually replaced by Michael Heseltine in January 1983 when Nott announced he would not seek re-election in 1983.

Together with John Major, he is the only surviving member of Mrs Thatcher's cabinet who does not currently sit in either house of Parliament. In 1985 he became Chairman and Chief Executive of the banking firm Lazard Brothers. He now lives on his farm at St Erth in Cornwall.

Personal life

Nott's son, Julian Nott, is a film composer, screenwriter and director, most famous for writing the scores for the Wallace & Gromit animated short films. Nott's other son, William, is a research analyst working for an international oil company in London. Nott's daughter, Sasha, is married to the Member of Parliament for East Devon, Hugo Swire MP; who was until July 2007, the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.


Nott's autobiography "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" is a reference to the infamous interview conducted by Sir Robin Day in October 1982. Day asked Nott whether the public should believe the retiring MP's statements on defence cuts, since (Day thought) Nott was a "here today, gone tomorrow politician" (Nott had recently announced that he would not stand at the next election). Nott then stood up, threw down his microphone, called the interview "ridiculous", and promptly walked off set.

In the media

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

In popular culture

Nott was portrayed by Clive Merrison in the 2002 BBC production of Ian Curteis's controversial "The Falklands Play".


*"Here Today, Gone Tomorrow", Nott's autobiography, Politico's Publishing, ISBN 1-84275-030-5

External links

* [ Thatcher's First Cabinet]

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