Talk:Michael Howard

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Birth Name and Nationality[edit]

I'd like to know more about his background -- basically, how posh was his upbriging? If his family were so poor, how did he end up at Peterhouse, one of the poshest Cambridge colleges? And cambridge tory students are also very posh and their circles are difficult to infiltrate?

I must own up to having been at Peterhouse, despite coming from a fairly bad comprehensive. It is posh (the college, that is), but not that posh. My answer to your question would be: a combination of talent and hard work. Matve 10:40, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

There is something called upward mobility. At severe risk of name-dropping, I know his son and can tell you that his father always instilled into him the value of working one's way up from poor immigrant to successful businessman. Hardly a crime - if it was my dad would also be at risk of arrest since he went from a small terraced house in Bolton to being a director of Taylor Woodrow! Crowqueen 02:27, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

I find the English obsession with "posh" distasteful, and in this case irrelevant. Howard was one of the generation who benefitted from free education. In fact grants then were more generous than they are now, and you got them whether you went to Cambridge or any other university. In addition, from what I have read, by dint of hard work and financial acumenn, his family had become successful shopkeepers and were not poor. Millbanks (talk) 22:14, 1 June 2008 (UTC) Two points/one..Its rather frightening that people writing here have no idea of the generosity of higher education grants from the end of the war through until relatively recently.Lack of money prevented no one from the finest university education.Its part of what was called socialism but thats a word that people need a dictionary to understand these days.Second..since theres a lot here about his Romanian father,what abouit his mother...Her name Kershion doesnt sound welsh but perhaps I am merely ignorant..

Is Howard his birth name? Just wondering if his Romanian Jewish father had the name of Howard. RickK 01:28 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)

That's a good question. His father's surname was originally Hecht. I had assumed that the change was made before Michael was born, but a Google search turns up this page, which says he was born Michael Hecht. I'm not sure this is a very reliable source, however. --Zundark 15:01, 31 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Hmm. While one expects the Telegraph to be OK, most of the other hits I get on this are either far-right BNP-type sites, or radical Islam sites, both complaining about "the evil Jewish conspiracy", etc. If Michael Hecht was his birth name, you might expect more reputable hits... Evercat 15:17, 31 Oct 2003 (UTC)

That article also says his family is Lithuanian, not Romanian - which is it? (I am also reminded of Lord Stockton's jibe about the Thatcher Cabinet containing more Estonians than Etonians.) Adam 15:19, 31 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Bah, can't trust even the broadsheets. :-) [1] from the Guardian says Romania, and says "The family name of Hecht was anglicised to Howard" though doesn't clearly say whether that means Michael was born Howard or Hecht. Probably not worth worrying about... Evercat 15:32, 31 Oct 2003 (UTC)

The BBC seems to stick with Transylvanian (and hence Romanian) on each mention - which seems to help the comedian's "he's a vampire" thesis (assisted by the "of the night" quote, naturally) -- Finlay McWalter 18:36, 1 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I was just going to ask this same question as to whther he was born Howard or Hecht. Anyway I've put in the original family name in a way that leaves it ambiguous. Mintguy 09:38, 1 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Just want to add my two bobs worth, some inside knowledge if you like, being born and bred in llanelli, I was informed when they moved to Llanelli they moved to an area adjacent to Park Howard ( a local Green area with small museum, and place where the eisteddfod once was) this Park was named in Honour of the famous Howard Family who were wealthy landowners and one of the families who opened Llanelli up to the industrial revolution. the first mayor of llanelli was indeed "Sir Stafford Howard", so my point is, when his family moved here, they took the name Howard to mimic this family and its rich origins. Only coming from llanelli could one know this to be correct ;o) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:14, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

According to Rulers [2] he was born Hecht. And according to Have I Got News For You, and Radio 5.

Alun Ephraim 10:55, 1 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Found a more accurate link (which actually works), HTH Phil 15:09, Nov 11, 2003 (UTC)

As I said I know his son so I will get both of them to comment on here! Crowqueen 02:26, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

Birth name "Michael Hecht". Registry of Births Jul-Sept 1941 Volume 11a Page 1839. Tigerboy1966 (talk) 08:25, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

I think it looks a little anachronistic to describe Sandra Paul as a super-model. She worked as a model in the 1960s. Did celebrity escalation set in so early in that sector? I will change this to 1960s model if no one objects. -- Alan Peakall 17:54, 13 Nov 2003 (UTC)

There were famous, even celebrity, models long before the term "supermodel". Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton spring to mind. But "supermodel" does sound anachronistic in this context. Perhaps "noted model", "famous model", or "successful model"? -- Finlay McWalter 18:06, 13 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Go for it, doesn't bother me. "Supermodel" was merely the term used in the various news reports I read. Phil 08:56, Nov 14, 2003 (UTC)

"The comment was taken as a bitchy reference to his dour demeanour, which she was implying was sinister and almost Dracula-like, as well as linking in to his Romanian ancestry." (my emphasis)

I might be crazy, but isn't it rather in bad taste to refer to a statement made by a member of the British government regarding a member of the Cabinet as "bitchy"? Barring that, it seems rather blatantly POV, which is not at all acceptable for a man who may end up being asked to kiss hands in a year or two. Wally 19:27, 20 Mar 2004 (UTC)

He was definitely dour in the Home Office, but by the time we met in 1999 he had rather livened up again. If you are being knocked around in the liberal media, wouldn't you end up lacking a sense of humour? Anyway bitchy is still the wrong word, it was - I believe from other sources - a way of actually ameliorating something worse that someone was about to make up about him to gain maximum publicity after the election and to really scupper his leadership chances for good. As it was he was able to prove himself in opposition by 2003 and lead the party to make substantial gains, and campaigning with him in 2005 I was able to see that he had maintained his 1999 sense of humour. Crowqueen 14:06, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Is it right to describe Paxman's questioning on Newsnight as a 'filler' to extend the interview? A video of the interview can be found here. The interview continues for about 2 minutes after Paxman gave up this line of questioning. Was he really filling time? Mintguy (T) 10:07, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

The next item wasnt ready, and the producer was telling Paxman to fill in time... I had thought this had been discussed somewhere, though I must admit I now cant find the link. Iainscott 10:31, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)
There is a film somewhere showing a rerun with Howard effectively interviewing Paxman made about two-and-a-half years later for the 20th anniversary. It was up on the BBC website until, presumably, the 25th anniversary programme was made in late 2004 (I last watched it in early 2004), and I remember it being said in it that Paxman won an award for the interview and admitted to it being prolonged because the technicians were fumbling about for the next item. Though it was rather a coincidence nonetheless. The film gives us an insight into his temperament as well, it is a hoot to watch but sadly it seems to have gone the way of similar footage about him on the On This Day part of the website which I also looked at in early 2004. Crowqueen 14:06, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

I've checked footage of that interview, and it is 14 times!

Moved here from article:

Howard's non-standard pronunciation of the word people, concluding on a 'Dark L', adds depth to the caricature for students of phonetics. Many also find humor in his unique pronunciation of certain words, such as "skeyuill", for school, and "incredibull", for incredible.

I'm not sure where this can really fit in... Evercat 18:19, 28 Aug 2004 (UTC)

NB - Howard does not use a 'dark L' in 'people' - this is a 'clear L', as in most South Walian accents. The 'dark L' is used by the majority of Brits (and Americans, and others...) in this position. It's his exaggerated 'clear L' in what many people would otherwise consider to be a rather 'posh' accent that has such an impact, I think. Matve 10:40, 18 August 2005 (UTC)


I like to have the odd quotation in a biog, but I know if I put this in by itself it will be regarded as POV. So, I'll rest it here, and then when there's a range of quotes maybe it will make it in (crosses fingers).--[[User:Bodnotbod|bodnotbod » .....TALKQuietly)]] 18:20, Aug 31, 2004 (UTC)

  • "[The poll tax] was a bold and brave experiment but it didn't work, it was a mistake, I've apologised for it before and I'm happy to do so again." - BBC - December 2003 [3]

It's a true quote, but it is from a biased source. In my own political research, time and again during the 2005 election I was able to prove that the BBC purposely spun its election coverage to belittle or ignore the Tory support on the ground. For example the Sunday before the election, I observed two papers come out wholeheartedly for the Conservative Party (The Sunday Express and the Sunday Telegraph) and two more advocating a Conservative protest vote in order to strengthen the opposition to the Labour Government in the House of Commons (The Mail on Sunday and The Sunday Times). However the BBC discussion of the papers deliberately stated that there were no Sunday papers which came out for the Tories however lukewarm their support: a palpable untruth and one which destroyed my faith in anything put out by what is essentially a state television channel with no revenue that is not sourced directly or indirectly from the government. Therefore I would not consider BBC quotes to be a reliable source of information. The quote could have been taken out of the general context of the article: Margaret Thatcher did say, for example, "There is no such thing as society". However the extended version of the quotation is "There is no such thing as society, merely a collection of individuals and their families." The bias is in how the quote is reported, not in the actual quote itself. As a junior minister Howard was indeed involved in setting up the poll tax, or more accurately the Community Charge. However a junior minister is necessarily responsible only for administrating and enacting legislation, not responsible for policy (as Howard claimed later, quite rightly, the other way round when he was challenged over the sacking of Derek Lewis and ministerial responsibility for the Prison Service). As a Cabinet minister at the Department of the Environment, Howard put together the Council Tax, replacing the flat-rate Community Charge with one based on a sliding scale dependent on the value of the payee's home. Therefore the actual quote could be taken to mean that Howard is apologising for the mistake but rectifying it when he gained responsibility for policy rather than operations. Unfortunately politics today is reported in soundbites and there are very few attempts particularly in modern broadcasting and print media to look at the finer details in government operations. Crowqueen 21:48, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

"Jewish faith"?[edit]

The article says "given Howard's Jewish faith". I don't believe its shown here (or elsewhere, for that matter) that Howard is of the Jewish faith (indeed, I can't find any mention of his religion, if he has one). Perhaps this should read instead "given Howard's Jewish ancestry". - John Fader

Howard is a member of St. Johns Wood, a liberal synagogue in London.

I met him and his son in 1999 at a party in London while I was a student. I talked long and hard with his son (to my regret I was far too starstruck to talk to Howard himself, except the usual pleasantries, who I admire as a sort of political mentor) as I was going through a spiritual crisis myself and wanted to convert to Judaism given that I could accept a belief in God but not in Christ's absolute infallibility, and the exclusive nature of fundamentalist Christianity at the university CU was getting me into a panic that I would have to toe that line. I can indeed confirm that Howard is Jewish and raised his son in the Reform tradition, but his son "completed" his faith by converting to Christianity at Eton. I actually stayed in touch with Nicholas Howard for a while after and can explain that the UFO incident was not actually a UFO but a false alarm. Crowqueen 11:50, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

18 percent[edit]

Crime fell by an unprecedented 18% during his term as Home Secretary and when he left office nearly a million fewer crimes were being committed than four years previously

I see this was added and reverted. So is it true or not? :-) Evercat 18:31, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I have my doubts, but I hit the rollback button by accident when I just meant to comment it out and question whether there were any sources for this! I note that the anon IP who put it in has no other contributions to Wikipedia on record. -- Arwel 18:39, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC) for conformation. I've never seen the claim disputed.

He should know the facts and figures. It is a shame he has to perpetuate the myth about his own career but doubtless sooner or later he will be able to correct it. I suspect even he has to spin his own biog at the behest of party hacks. Records indicate that he remained at the DTI from 1985 until he was made Secretary of State for Employment, but sadly neither the Conservative Party itself nor the BBC can be bothered to check Hansard. Crowqueen 21:52, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Lynton Crosby outrage[edit]

I just found out that Lynton Crosby the former director of the Liberal Party in Australia is running the campaign for the Conservative Party in the upcoming general election. Why on earth did Michael Howard allow him on board because I don't think voters appreciate a foreigner telling them how they should vote. Mind your own business Crosby. In fact if you are so keen to get yourself involve in the campaign why don't you help out the Liberal Democrats instead, after all they almost have the same name as your party.

Go home Crosby!!!

Hmmm, you sound like one of the rabid Bush supporters who responded to the Guardian's letter-writing campaign with such unexpected venom last year. I'm not sure why it bothers you that a foreigner might encourage you to vote a certain way—you don't actually have to do what he says. What I find more distasteful about foreigners and the Conservative Party is that Michael Howard seems to think it perfectly reasonable to advocate an asylum policy that would have resulted in the death of his own father in a gas chamber had it been implemented at the time of his immigration to the UK. Worry about that instead.
What a ridiculous argument, the reasons for a decision taken around 60 years ago in a period of severe national strife bears little relation to the Britain of today. You could also ask why Tony Blair clings onto the unrealistic notion that 157,000 imigrants a year is a workable intake, with all the associated burdens it brings in terms of services and health care etc. Extra economic output will only break even in the cost benefit analysis, meanwhile people smugglers get fat and rich off the misery of others. I'd worry about that.

"Hmmm, you sound like one of the rabid Bush supporters who responded to the Guardian's letter-writing campaign with such unexpected venom last year." I am not a Bush supporter and I do not know what you are talking about.

"I'm not sure why it bothers you that a foreigner might encourage you to vote a certain way' You obviously haven't heard the outcry over Bush interfering with Australian politics.

"I'm not sure why it bothers you that a foreigner might encourage you to vote a certain way'" You obviously have never heard of the Prime Directive.

Asylum Seeker vs Economic migrant[edit]

This article states that his father was an asylum seeker, yet other sources, including Michael Howard himself state that he was an economic migrant, which is true? -- Joolz 18:37, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I believe that his father officially entered the United Kingdom as an asylum seeker, possibly having lied on his application, but in truth his reasons for coming were economic. Any criticism of Howard for his policies towards asylum seekers when his father was one is misplaced. The world has changed much in the last sixty odd years, and comparison is difficult.
M - From What i've heard from various sources so please dont ask me to name any, because i couldn't if i wanted to is that his father came here as something to do with the printing business originally, hence he'd be a migrant rather than a refugee ? Has anyone else hear this ?
We need to cite our sources, either way. Barring something reliable, we should say "immigrant" and leave it at that. -- John Fader (talk | contribs) 21:11, 12 May 2005 (UTC)
If you go to this page father go to 29 mins 20 second into the leaders special and Mr Howard says 'my father came to this country as an Economic migrant' that seems like good enough proof for him being an Economic migrant not an Asylum Seeker.
Howard's father was obviously fleeing persecution to some extent, but he came as an "economic migrant" not as an ayslum seeker, he gained entry on the grounds that he had a job offer as a cantor at a synagogue, of which there were a shortage in the UK. The confusion is because of Howard's grandfather, Maurice Hecht. On Bernard Hecht's application for residence he claimed that his own father Maurice was dead. In fact Maurice Hecht was alive and well and living in the UK. Michael Howard has said that he guesses that the reason his father (Bernard) lied about his father (Maurice) might have been because Maurice was living in the UK illegally. The information is in Bernard Crick's bigraphy of Howard, referenced online in an Independent article here (as well as elsewhere) Howard was also born in Gorseinon, not Llanelli. He was brought up in Llanelli.


I've contacted Michael Howard's office, who confirm that Owlperson is a hoaxer. I've indef blocked User:Owlperson and User:Crowqueen. Tyrenius 13:33, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

I've reverted back, keeping an anon edit and only removing those of crow, owl and myself. Good edits can be restored but best to start as if this hadnt happened, SqueakBox 21:12, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

PC Suffix[edit]

I have removed the PC suffix as techincally it is not used for a 'commoner'. Membership of the Privy Council being signified by the prefix Right Honourable (Rt Hon). Members of the nobility who hold Privy Council Membership signify membership by using the suffix PC rather than the prefix Rt Hon, although using both in this context is acceptable. For more information refer to most editions of Whitaker's Almanac. Tgsh2005 30 June 2005 22:27 (UTC)

This article needs a photo[edit]

Dovea 19:11, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

done, only 2 years late... --Lemming64 16:53, 23 November 2008 (UTC)


I know this isnt political but should some info be included on the UFO incident which took place at Howrds house in the 1990's? Supposedly the fire service was called out and firemen "observed" something above the Howards house.--Redblossom 21:54, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

Questioning relationship with John Howard, former Australian PM[edit]

The article currently claims Michael Howard as a second cousin of John Howard. But John Howard's family have, according to Wikipedia, borne that surname for multiple generations, while Michael Howard's parents adopted it within his lifetime. Is someone pulling our legs on this? Nandt1 (talk) 23:57, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Further review shows that the user who added the original claim has been perpetrating repeated acts of vandalism in multiple Wikipedia articles, and I have now deleted the claim. Nandt1 (talk) 00:07, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

Welsh or British[edit]

User Daicaregos tells me that under some sort of Wiki convention, Neil Kinnock is Welsh not British, so to be consistent I've chaned Michael Howard's nationality to Welsh. Ausseagull (talk) 16:47, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Can you provide a link to the where the convention has been agreed? Depending on how it is phrased it is going to have a major impact on how we handle articles about British politicians. For example, is John Prescott Welsh now? Road Wizard (talk) 18:45, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

I enjoy and use wiki frequenty it is why admarabe except for one thing..its obssession for ceaselessly trying to break up or destroy any sense of Britishness.Here is a tiny entity called the British isles.Whereas a huge country like America hammers American nationalidsm into every citizen,in Britain every tiny group tries to ceaselessly stick its head upfor attention..Why..Were does this sense of inferiority come from...In my seventyfive years I have never heard anone trying to put dow the welsh or scots etc..And once you get into this game it doesnt stop..Is Howard Welshyou ask ...Ah but is he NORTH welsh or SOUTHERN welsh..theres a big difference just as those people pressing insanely for Cornish independence would soon find a civil war on there hands between the north and south cornish...What one wonders do the the Chinese IndiansTurks etc let alone the Americans think of this childish puerile nonsense.One can read thousands of words about Olivier Newton Johns nationality in wiki.It really is time for Wikis obssessional British hatred thing to be dealt with clearly...It is for example most offensive to call someone like Prescott orKinnock who have worked ceaselessly for the British nation and people welsh.Whatever strange groups are doing this it should be stopped and clear new rules drawn up.It demeans the entirew wiki project

The current position is outlined here. Wikipedia:Nationality_of_people_from_the_United_Kingdom However this is not a policy, there was no consensus on this matter and many of us want it sorted out. There is no right or wrong answer, What ever seems more suitable should be used. So in the case of a football player who plays for Wales, use Welsh. However Michael Howard is known for being a leader of a British party and until this moment i never even knew he was Welsh. We should state where he was born, but he should be considered and described as British. BritishWatcher (talk) 19:20, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Ya'll know my views on this topic. Therefore, I won't repeat them. GoodDay (talk) 19:32, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

I have consistently referred Ausseagull to WP:UKNATIONALS, which includes the sub-subsection Do not enforce uniformity. My response also included the advice "As a general rule it is best to discuss proposed changes to nationality on the talk pages first." I had assumed that achieving consensus to change prior to making any changes, was implicit. I agree that Michael Howard's nationality should be noted as British. I have never heard of him self-identify as anything else. Daicaregos (talk) 20:42, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
Have you ever heard him self-identify as British? A few sourced examples might help? Has he self-identified as Jewish? Ausseagull (talk) 22:05, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
PS I've just checked and Leo Abse is referred to as Welsh, not British. Ausseagull (talk) 22:08, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

And Abse's friend George Thomas, Lord Tonypandy, is referred to as British! Ausseagull (talk) 22:16, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Expenses Scandal[edit]

Quite a few other MPs caught up in the expenses scandal in 2009 have a section or prominent mention - odd that this article doesn't. This is quite well known now, so perhaps deserves mention - as does his response to the Telegraph claims.

Michael Howard claimed expenses to pay £44,000 to Conservatives

Michael Howard claims £17,000 for gardening expenses

Michael Howard rejects claims on expenses

Sentence Fragment[edit]

I removed "released in 2005 under the Freedom of Information Act failed to corroborate this last quote." from the end of the paragraph about the "Did you threaten to overrule Derek Lewis" interview. Seems to be a bit 'meta' and perhaps intended as an invisible comment? -- (talk) 22:06, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Wrong Michael Howard[edit]

The Controversies section references potentially racist remarks about the Anglo-Boer War. These comments are currently also attributed to a different Michael Howard - Michael Howard (historian). Not sure how to verify which one it was but I doubt that both Michael Howards appeared on the same edition of Newsnight and said the same thing. (talk) 18:26, 29 September 2015 (UTC)

Thank you. Special:Contributions/ added it to both articles. It is made very clear that it's the other Howard, in ISBN 0956853307. -- zzuuzz (talk) 18:37, 29 September 2015 (UTC)

Somali business interests[edit]

@Bchilds: Greetings. We both want this article to be fair. I added the Times reference to the Somali business interests bit + an internal link & thought at the time it was accurate. I'll check it again in a few days but the Times is a valid UK wp:Suggested sources#currentnews which unlike WSJ is a source many UK editors use. The Daily Mail is a dodgy tabloid, most recently in disgrace just last week -see Nigel Farage's car tampering. Feel free to comment, otherwise I'll update in a few days. Regards JRPG (talk) 14:21, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

@JRPG Greetings. I agree that we are both looking to make the article as accurate as possible. The internal Wikipedia article that was linked on Corruption in Somalia contained out of date information, apparently based on a Financial Times article behind a paywall. The contract with British Soma Oil and Gas firm was not cancelled by the Somali Government (as a quick reference to the company website will show). Regarding the Times article about corruption and paying the lawyers fees for the Somali Government, it seems that that information would be much more appropriate in the internal page on Corruption in Somalia. That page is in great need of updating. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bchilds (talkcontribs) 21:53, 17 January 2016 (UTC)