Michael Heseltine

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Michael Heseltine (2013)

Michael Dibdin Heseltine Raymond, Baron Heseltine , CH , PC (* 21st March 1933 in Swansea , Wales ) is a British politician of the Conservative Party , chairman of the Tory Reform Group , former minister and businessman. In 1990 he challenged Margaret Thatcher for the party chairmanship and thus played a key role in her replacement, although he was not her successor.


Michael Heseltine was born the son of a colonel, trained at Shrewsbury School and studied history, philosophy and politics at Pembroke College (Oxford) . During this time he became president of the renowned British debating club Oxford Union . From this time comes the anecdote that he wrote on the back of an envelope: 25 millionaires, 35 cabinet members, 45 party leaders, 55 prime ministers. As a trained auditor, he became editor after his military service, from 1966 co-owner and publisher of the company Haymarket Publishing and earned millions by publishing magazines, etc. a. Management Today and before he was 40 he was already a member of the Cabinet.

In 1966 he was the first member of the British House of Commons for the constituency of Tavistock in Devon , which he represented until 1974. When the Conservative Party won the general election in 1970, Prime Minister Edward Heath appointed him to the cabinet until 1972 as Secretary of State in the Ministry of Transport, then as Minister for Aviation and Shipping. During the opposition period from 1974 to 1979 he was a member of the shadow cabinet as shadow industry minister. During this time the Labor government nationalized the shipyards and aviation industry. In the House of Commons debate, Heseltine became known through the following legendary episode: The descriptions of what exactly happened vary, but the most colorful was drawn by Heseltine, gripping the ceremonial mace of the House of Commons and swinging his long blond hair around him against the left of the Labor Party whirling as they celebrated their victory in the vote by singing the anthem "Red Flag" . As a result, Heseltine was nicknamed "Tarzan" .

He was appointed Minister of the Environment by Margaret Thatcher in 1979. Heseltine was dispatched as a troubleshooter to curb the violence in the city-center violence that followed the clashes in Brixton and Toxteth in the early 1980s . From January 6, 1983 to January 9, 1986, he served in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet as Secretary of Defense. During this time he saw the control of arms spending and the defense of British nuclear weapons against criticism from the peace movement and the Labor opposition as his most important tasks. He advocated the NATO double resolution and an SDI agreement with the USA . In connection with the crisis at the helicopter manufacturer Westland Aircraft , a bitter cabinet debate arose for him: Heseltine had advocated a European solution to save the only British helicopter manufacturer and had operated its merger with the Italian manufacturer Agusta , while the Prime Minister and Industry Minister Leon Brittan for a merger between Westlands and the American manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation . After the cabinet vote was lost, Heseltine appeared before the assembled press and announced his resignation, in which he embarrassed Margaret Thatcher by accusing her of lack of insight. Two weeks later, Brittan had to resign because it became apparent that he had sent an official's critical memo about Heseltine to the press.

The Westland Affair was believed to be the beginning of the end of the Thatcher era. Heseltine retired to the back benches of the House of Commons and became increasingly critical of the Prime Minister. He challenged Margaret Thatcher as party leader in November 1990, who was completely unprepared for it. In addition to Heseltine, who had dared to take cover too early, Douglas Hurd and finally John Major , who ultimately won, also ran. Heseltine returned to the Cabinet as Environment Minister with special responsibility for replacing the poll tax so vigorously enforced by Margaret Thatcher . He later became Minister of Commerce and Deputy Prime Minister. He was one of the main supporters of the construction of the Millennium Dome .

After Labor won the 1997 election, he was unable to run for chairmanship of the Conservative Party due to health problems. But he actively advocated the bipartisan campaign for Great Britain to join the common European currency, the euro , together with Tony Blair , Gordon Brown and Robin Cook . At the height of the euro crisis in 2011, he reaffirmed this view.

In his constituency, Henley-on-Thames , which he represented from 1974, he did not run for the 2001 general election and left the constituency to his successor Boris Johnson , but remained in British politics. He is a member of the House of Lords by his peer review that same year as Baron Heseltine , of Thenford in the County of Northamptonshire .

In December 2002, Heseltine sparked controversy when he asked to replace the hapless and colorless party chairman Iain Duncan Smith with the dream team Kenneth Clarke as chairman and Michael Portillo as his deputy. Without Duncan Smith's voting out, the party "has no chance of winning the next election," he said. He proposed voting in the parliamentary group instead of the party congress actually responsible under the statutes. In fact, Duncan Smith was replaced in November 2003, but by Michael Howard , who lost the 2005 general election to Tony Blair.

In 2016, he described the Brexit decision as “the greatest constitutional crisis in modern times” and condemned Boris Johnson as a coward for not running as the conservative top candidate after winning the referendum; he compared him to a general who leads his soldiers into battle and leaves them alone with the first shot on the battlefield. After 6 years of consulting work for the government, Prime Minister Theresa May dismissed him in February 2017 after the lost votes in the House of Lords. On the day of Brexit, he gave an interview to Spiegel .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. UK will ultimately join euro says Lord Heseltine. BBC News, November 20, 2011, accessed November 26, 2011 .
  2. Heseltine launches scathing attack on Boris Johnson , bbc.com, June 30, 2016
  3. Having led his troops to the sound of guns, Boris Johnson now abandons his army within sight of the battlefield , telegraph.co.uk, July 1, 2016
  4. May dismisses consultants due to deviation from Brexit line FAZ of March 10, 2017
  5. The worst would be the collapse of the kingdom (Der Spiegel)