Cecil Parkinson

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Parkinson
PC
Secretary of State for Transport
In office
24 July 1989 – 28 November 1990
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Paul Channon
Succeeded by Malcolm Rifkind
Secretary of State for Energy
In office
13 June 1987 – 24 July 1989
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Peter Walker
Succeeded by John Wakeham
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
In office
12 June 1983 – 14 October 1983
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by The Lord Cockfield (Trade)
Patrick Jenkin (Industry)
Succeeded by Norman Tebbit
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
6 April 1982 – 11 June 1983
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by The Baroness Young
Succeeded by The Lord Cockfield
Paymaster General
In office
14 September 1981 – 11 June 1983
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Francis Pym
Succeeded by John Gummer
Member of Parliament
for Hertsmere
In office
9 June 1983 – 9 April 1992
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by James Clappison
Member of Parliament
for South Hertfordshire
In office
28 February 1974 – 9 June 1983
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by Constituency Abolished
Member of Parliament
for Enfield West
In office
19 November 1970 – 28 February 1974
Preceded by Iain Macleod
Succeeded by Constituency Abolished
Personal details
Born (1931-09-01) 1 September 1931 (age 82)
Carnforth, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Anne Jarvis (1957-present)
Alma mater Emmanuel College, Cambridge

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

A Chartered Accountant by training, he entered Parliament in 1970 and was appointed a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s first government in 1979. He successfully managed the Conservative Party's 1983 election campaign, and was rewarded with an appointment as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, but was forced to resign after revelations that his former secretary, Sara Keays, was pregnant with his child.

Parkinson subsequently served as Secretary of State for Energy, and later Transport. He resigned that office in 1990, on the same day that Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister. He was created Baron Parkinson of Carnforth in 1992.

Early life[edit]

The son of a railway worker, Parkinson was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, a state-run day and boarding school for boys, from where he won a scholarship to Cambridge University, where he read English at Emmanuel College, later switching to read Law. While at university, he was a Labour supporter and for a time was a member of the Labour Party. He did National Service as an NCO in the Royal Air Force. He married Ann Mary Jarvis in 1957. They have three daughters: Mary, Emma and Joanna.

After leaving university, Parkinson worked as a manager for the Metal Box Company, later becoming a consultant. He trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant and in 1961, founded Parkinson-Hart securities.

Member of Parliament[edit]

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[edit]

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 on 14 October 1983 after it was revealed that his former secretary, Sara Keays, was carrying his child,[1] 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 has learning difficulties and Asperger syndrome and also underwent an operation to remove a brain tumour when she was four, although it is unknown if this either caused or complicated her condition.

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 even sent her a birthday card and that her mother assumed that Flora could not ever expect to receive one.[2]

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 letters in support that he 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. He stood down from the House of Commons 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.[citation needed] 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, Thatcher would have won the second ballot of the Conservative Leadership election in 1990 – which her Cabinet had warned her she would lose and persuaded her to stand down.

Shadow Cabinet[edit]

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. He is also the Honorary President of Conservative Friends of Poland.[3]

Parkinson's affair with Sara Keays was a running joke with the satirical magazine Private Eye for over a decade (and satirical TV programme Spitting Image for nearly as long), with the magazine seldom passing up an opportunity to portray Parkinson as having 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 in his memoirs ("Upwardly Mobile"), the front cover had shown each man telling the other "I told you not to stick it in".

In the media[edit]

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

Parkinson is a supporter of Preston North End football club, and in November 1988 paid a tribute to Tom Finney on This Is Your Life.[4]

Charitable works[edit]

He stands as one of the three Presidents of the UK-based charity Action on Addiction.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "1983: Parkinson quits over lovechild scandal". On This Day: 14 October. BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Angela Levin "The brutal sex attack that nearly destroyed Cecil Parkinson's child" Daily Mail, 14 November 2008. Article about Flora and Sara today, still focusing on Flora's medical condition.
  3. ^ Conservative Friends of Poland website
  4. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtMEiB9QifU&feature=related
  5. ^ Trustees' Report and Financial Statements 2011-12, Action on Addiction

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Iain Macleod
Member of Parliament for Enfield West
19701974
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for South Hertfordshire
19741983
Member of Parliament for Hertsmere
19831992
Succeeded by
James Clappison
Political offices
Preceded by
Francis Pym
Paymaster General
1981–1983
Succeeded by
John Gummer
Preceded by
The Baroness Young
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1982–1983
Succeeded by
The Lord Cockfield
Preceded by
The Lord Cockfield
as Secretary of State for Trade
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
1983
Succeeded by
Norman Tebbit
Preceded by
Patrick Jenkin
as Secretary of State for Industry
Preceded by
Peter Walker
Secretary of State for Energy
1987–1989
Succeeded by
John Wakeham
Preceded by
Paul Channon
Secretary of State for Transport
1989–1990
Succeeded by
Malcolm Rifkind
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Thorneycroft
Chairman of the Conservative Party
1981–1983
Succeeded by
John Gummer
Preceded by
Brian Mawhinney
Chairman of the Conservative Party
1997–1998
Succeeded by
Michael Ancram