In the somewhat unpredictable world of British politics it is increasingly difficult to differentiate between the heroes and villains. In a career spanning four decades, former conservative leader Lord Michael Howard has attempted to serve the public whilst trying to find the balance between handling his own beliefs alongside the best interests of Britain. Becoming an MP for Folkestone and Hythe during the 1983 general election, Howard already had a grounding in public service following a successful stint as a member of the Queen’s Council a year previously. In the midst of a decade dominated by Thatcher and the Tories, Michael’s introduction to political life couldn’t have been better.
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As environment secretary at the turn of the nineties, Michael helped to initiate the G8’s agreement on climate change which remains at the forefront of political agenda to this very day, something which fills him with immense pride. Becoming Home Secretary in 1993 under John Major, Howard had an influential contribution to cutting crime by 18% in the four years that he was in the post and this became the crucial catalyst to Britain’s fall in crime throughout succeeding years. Following Labour’s triumphant victory at the 1997 General Election, Michael put himself forward to succeed the outgoing John Major as leader of the opposition. This led to one of the most famous political interviews on record when Howard appeared on the BBC’s Newsnight and was grilled by the ever-costic Jeremy Paxman over the accusation that Howard overruled the former Director General of HM Prison Service Dereck Lewis.
Unfortunately Michael lost the 1997 conservative leader contest to William Hague but by 2003 the views of the electorate had changed and despite losing two elections in a row, the party was in a better position to fight back. This coincided with the dramatic fallout from the Iraq war which resulted in the loss of 179 servicemen and women which indirectly led to the Hutton Inquiry. As Howard states, the inquiry did more to damage the reputation of Tony Blair than it ever did to the BBC. Being leader of the opposition for a mere two years from November 2003 to December 2005, it wasn’t the longest political tenure but it was definitely one of the most turbulent in recent memory.
After being defeated in the 2005 election, Howard promptly resigned leaving his seat available for David Cameron to build on the growing support that had been generated throughout the 2005 campaign. Ironically Howard gained considerable more seats than Jeremy Corbyn in this year’s election, yet you would be forgiven for not believing that due to the manner in which it has been spun by the media. After resigning from top flight politics, Michael Howard became invested into the House of Lords and took up his official title of Lord Howard, Baron of Lympne and became the patron of Hospice UK. Today, his time is spent attending charity fundraisers all over Britain which raises money for this worthwhile charity.
It was a great pleasure to meet Lord Michael Howard and wish him all the very best for the next stage of his remarkable life.