Michael Forsyth, Baron Forsyth of Drumlean

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Forsyth of Drumlean
PC
Secretary of State for Scotland
In office
5 June 1995 – 1 May 1997
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Ian Lang
Succeeded by Donald Dewar
Minister of State for Home Affairs
In office
20 July 1994 – 5 June 1995
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Peter Lloyd
Succeeded by Ann Widdecombe
Minister of State for Employment
In office
14 April 1992 – 20 July 1994
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Office Created
Succeeded by Ann Widdecombe
Minister of State for Scotland
In office
7 September 1990 – 14 April 1992
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Charles Sanderson, Baron Sanderson of Bowden
Succeeded by The Lord Fraser of Carmyllie
Member of Parliament
for Stirling
In office
7 June 1983 – 1 May 1997
Preceded by None, constituency created
Succeeded by Anne McGuire
Personal details
Born (1954-10-16) 16 October 1954 (age 59)
Montrose, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Alma mater University of St Andrews

Michael Bruce Forsyth, Baron Forsyth of Drumlean PC (born 16 October 1954) is a British financier and politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Stirling from 1983 to 1997 and served in the cabinet of John Major as Secretary of State for Scotland from 1995 to 1997. He is a Director of J&J Denholm and Secure Trust Bank, and is non-executive Chairman of Hyperion Insurance Group. He is a former Deputy Chairman of JPMorgan UK and Evercore Partners International. He was knighted in 1997 and appointed to the House of Lords in 1999. He is a member of the Privy Council and served on the Development Boards of the Royal Society and the National Portrait Gallery.

Early life[edit]

Forsyth was born in Montrose, in Angus, Scotland. He was educated at Arbroath High School and the University of St Andrews (1972–76). He was President of the Conservative Association at St Andrews University from 1973 to '76. At St Andrews Forsyth developed a passion for debating, history, science and campaigning.

Parliamentary career[edit]

After leaving university Forsyth was first elected to Westminster City Council[1] from 1978 to '83. He was then elected at the 1983 General Election as the MP for the Stirling constituency. His first job in government was as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the then Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe from 1986 to '87. In 1987 he was appointed to the Scottish Office, first as an Under-Secretary of State (1987–90), then as Minister of State (1990–92) with responsibility over health, education, social work and sport. He was also the chair of the Scottish Conservative Party from 1989 to 1990.[2] In 1996 he was named Parliamentarian of the Year.

He was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Employment (1992–94), then the Home Office (1994–95), he became a member of John Major's cabinet in 1995 as Secretary of State for Scotland. In 1996, as Scottish Secretary, Forsyth was credited with transferring the Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny, from Westminster Abbey to (ultimately) Edinburgh Castle.[3] He also established the University of the Highlands, crofters' rights to buy their land, promoted the Gaelic language and commissioned the restoration of the Great Hall at Stirling Castle.

Forsyth was re-elected in 1987 and 1992 but lost his seat in United Kingdom general election, 1997.

Independence in Scotland[edit]

Forsyth campaigned against the Scottish Parliament having the power to vary the basic rate of income tax by up to three pence in the pound, which he dubbed the "Tartan Tax". Forsyth's persistence was widely credited with prompting the Labour Party's unexpected decision – bitterly criticised by the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party – to separate out the tax-varying issue in a two-question referendum on devolution.

In 2009–10 he was a member of the Sanderson Commission that reported on Conservative Party organisation, and in 2010–11 a member of the independent Philips inquiry into the 1994 Scotland RAF Chinook crash on the Mull of Kintyre, established by the Secretary of State for Defence.

In 2011, Forsyth criticised the plans of Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser to disband the Scottish Conservatives and establish a wholly new centre-right party, should he win the forthcoming leadership election. Forsyth later declared his backing for a rival candidate, Ruth Davidson.

House of Lords[edit]

Forsyth was nominated to the Privy Council in 1995, was knighted in 1997[4] and entered the House of Lords as Baron Forsyth of Drumlean, of Drumlean (a town near Stirling) on 14 July 1999.[5] Following his elevation to the Lords, he has held a number of positions. He was a member of the Commission on Strengthening Parliament (1999–2000), the Select Committee on the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, the Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament on Reform of the House of Lords, and the Select Committee on the Barnett Formula. From October 2005 to October 2006, he was Chairman of the Conservative Party's Tax Reform Commission, established by then Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP. He served as a member of the House of Lords select committee on Economic Affairs from 2007–2011 and is a member of the special select committee on soft power.[6]

Business career[edit]

After leaving the House of Commons Forsyth has become a prominent figure in the City of London. He joined Flemings as a director of Corporate Finance and, following the bank's sale to JPMorgan Chase he became vice-chairman Investment Banking Europe at JPMorgan (1999–2001) and then Deputy Chairman of JPMorgan (2002–2005). He joined Evercore Partners International LLP, a leading investment bank, in 2005 – leaving as Deputy chairman in March 2012. He is also a former director of NBNK Investments PLC. He currently holds non-executive directorships at J&J Denholm Ltd and Secure Trust Bank, and is the non-executive Chairman of Hyperion Insurance Group. In addition he is Chairman of Safor Ltd.

Philanthropy and personal life[edit]

Forsyth is married to Susan (1977) and they have three grown-up children. He is the founder of the Pimlico Tree and Preservation Trust, now the Westminster Tree Trust. In 2010 he climbed the highest mountain in Antarctica, Mount Vinson, in support of CINI and Marie Curie Cancer Care,[7] having previously climbed Mount Aconcagua and Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountains in the Americas and Africa respectively.[8] His charity fund-raising achievements are substantial and include £220,000 for DebRA for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, £420,000 for CINI and Marie Curie Cancer Care for climbing Mount Vinson, and £500,000 to support the families of victims of 9/11 through organising a dinner in the City of London.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Reservicing Britain (London: Adam Smith Institute, 1980)
  • The Myths of Privatisation (London: Adam Smith Institute, 1983)

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Torrance, David, The Scottish Secretaries (Birlinn 2006)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Stirling
19831997
Succeeded by
Anne McGuire
Political offices
Preceded by
Ian Lang
Secretary of State for Scotland
1995–1997
Succeeded by
Donald Dewar