Francis Pym, Baron Pym

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For an earlier British MP, see Francis Pym (1756–1833).
The Right Honourable
The Lord Pym
MC PC
Zconcam61.jpg
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
6 April 1982 – 11 June 1983
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by The Lord Carrington
Succeeded by Sir Geoffrey Howe
Lord President of the Council
In office
14 September 1981 – 5 April 1982
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by The Lord Soames
Succeeded by John Biffen
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
5 January 1981 – 5 April 1982
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Norman St John-Stevas
Succeeded by John Biffen
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
5 January 1981 – 14 September 1981
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Norman St John-Stevas
Succeeded by The Baroness Young
Paymaster General
In office
5 January 1981 – 14 September 1981
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Angus Maude
Succeeded by Cecil Parkinson
Secretary of State for Defence
In office
4 May 1979 – 5 January 1981
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Frederick Mulley
Succeeded by John Nott
Shadow Foreign Secretary
In office
6 November 1978 – 4 May 1979
Leader Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by John Davies
Succeeded by Peter Shore
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
19 November 1976 – 6 November 1978
Leader Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by John Peyton
Succeeded by Norman St John-Stevas
Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
In office
18 February 1975 – 19 November 1976
Leader Margaret Thatcher
Succeeded by Michael Jopling
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
4 March 1974 – 29 October 1974
Leader Edward Heath
Preceded by Merlyn Rees
Succeeded by Ian Gilmour
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
2 December 1973 – 4 March 1974
Prime Minister Edward Heath
Preceded by William Whitelaw
Succeeded by Merlyn Rees
Government Chief Whip in the Commons
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
In office
19 June 1970 – 2 December 1973
Prime Minister Edward Heath
Preceded by Bob Mellish
Succeeded by Humphrey Atkins
Member of Parliament
for South East Cambridgeshire
In office
9 June 1983 – 11 June 1987
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by James Paice
Member of Parliament
for Cambridgeshire
In office
16 March 1961 – 9 June 1983
Preceded by Gerald Howard
Succeeded by Constituency Abolished
Personal details
Born Francis Leslie Pym
(1922-02-13)13 February 1922
Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
Died 7 March 2008(2008-03-07) (aged 86)
Sandy, Bedfordshire
Political party Conservative
Alma mater Magdalene College, Cambridge

Francis Leslie Pym, Baron Pym, MC, PC (13 February 1922 – 7 March 2008) was a British politician. A member of the Conservative Party, he served in various positions in the Cabinet in the 1970s and 1980s, including Foreign Secretary, Defence Secretary, Northern Ireland Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons. He was Member of Parliament (MP) representing the constituencies of Cambridgeshire (1961–83) and South East Cambridgeshire (1983–87), and was made a life peer in 1987.

Early life[edit]

Pym was born at Penpergwm Lodge, near Abergavenny in Monmouthshire. His father, Leslie Pym, was also a Member of Parliament, while his grandfather, the Right Reverend Walter Ruthven Pym, was Bishop of Bombay. He was not a descendant of the 17th century Parliamentarian John Pym as has been commonly held (see Pym's own published family history). He was educated at Eton, before going on to Magdalene College, Cambridge. For much of the Second World War, Pym served in North Africa and Italy as a captain and regimental adjutant in the 9th Lancers. He was awarded the Military Cross,[1] and he ended his military service as a major. Pym was a managing director and landowner before he went into politics.

Political career[edit]

Pym entered politics as a member of Herefordshire County Council in 1958.[2] He contested Rhondda West without success in 1959 and entered Parliament in 1961 at a by-election as Member of Parliament for Cambridgeshire. He held the seat until 1983, and was MP for Cambridgeshire South East 1983–87. He was an Opposition whip from 1964 and served under Edward Heath as Government Chief Whip (1970–73) and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1973–74), and Margaret Thatcher as Defence Secretary (1979–81), Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council (1981–82). He became foreign secretary during the Falklands War in 1982 following Lord Carrington's resignation, but was removed by Margaret Thatcher in 1983 after her second election victory.

Pym was a leading member of the Wets, Tories opposed to Thatcherism. During the 1983 general election campaign he said on the BBC's Question Time that that "Landslides don't on the whole produce successful governments".[3] This was publicly repudiated by Margaret Thatcher and he was sacked after the election. Shortly afterwards, he launched a pressure group called Conservative Centre Forward to argue for more centrist, One Nation policies. But with Thatcher at the height of her powers, it was unsuccessful. He stood down at the 1987 election and was created a life peer as Baron Pym, of Sandy in the County of Bedfordshire on 9 October 1987.[4] He was the author of The Politics of Consent published in 1984 after he left office. The book is a guide to the Wets' opposition to Margaret Thatcher, both to her leadership style and policies.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Pym died on 7 March 2008 after a prolonged illness, aged 86.[6]

In popular culture[edit]

Pym was the touchstone for the role of Chief Whip played by Peter Cartwright in the 1987-88 BBC TV sit-com Yes, Prime Minister. He was portrayed by Jeremy Child in the 2002 BBC production of Ian Curteis's The Falklands Play and by Julian Wadham in the 2011 movie, "The Iron Lady".

References[edit]

  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37386. p. 6074. 13 December 1945.
  2. ^ "Francis Pym : Obituary". iAnnounce. Northcliffe Media. 7 March 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  3. ^ BBC News. Thatcher's Class of '79
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 51091. p. 12695. 14 October 1987.
  5. ^ Francis Pym, The Politics of Consent (Hamish Hamilton, 1984)
  6. ^ BBC News. Former Foreign Secretary Pym Dies

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Gerald Howard
Member of Parliament for Cambridgeshire
1961–1983
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for South East Cambridgeshire
19831987
Succeeded by
James Paice
Political offices
Preceded by
William Whitelaw
Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons
1970–1973
Succeeded by
Humphrey Atkins
Preceded by
Bob Mellish
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
1970–1973
Preceded by
William Whitelaw
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
1973–1974
Succeeded by
Merlyn Rees
Preceded by
John Peyton
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
1976–1978
Succeeded by
Norman St John-Stevas
Preceded by
John Davies
Shadow Foreign Secretary
1978–1979
Succeeded by
Peter Shore
Preceded by
Fred Mulley
Secretary of State for Defence
1979–1981
Succeeded by
John Nott
Preceded by
Angus Maude
Paymaster General
1981
Succeeded by
Cecil Parkinson
Preceded by
Norman St John-Stevas
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1981
Succeeded by
The Baroness Young
Leader of the House of Commons
1981–1982
Succeeded by
John Biffen
Preceded by
The Lord Soames
Lord President of the Council
1981–1982
Preceded by
The Lord Carrington
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
1982–1983
Succeeded by
Sir Geoffrey Howe