Michael Howard

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Michael Howard, 2006

Michael Howard, Baron Howard of Lympne CH (born July 7, 1941 in Llanelli ) is a British politician. From 2003 to 2005 he was Chairman of the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom .

In the general election on May 5, 2005 , he ran against the incumbent Prime Minister Tony Blair , but could not prevent the absolute majority of his Labor Party .


Howard was born in Wales , where his father Bernard, a Romanian Jewish business owner, had emigrated in 1939 on the eve of World War II in the face of growing anti-Semitism. The surname Hecht was Anglicized to Howard. Also his mother Hilda, geb. Kershion comes from a Jewish family who emigrated from tsarist Russia before the First World War .

Howard first ran as a candidate for the British House of Commons in 1966. As his constituency, Liverpool Edge Hill, was a Labor stronghold , he was defeated, as in the 1970 general election. At the time, Howard was a clear supporter of British membership of the EEC . Later, his relationship with the EU changed and in an interview with the BBC in January 2016, he stated that he would vote for Britain to leave the EU in the upcoming referendum on EU membership . He worked as a lawyer from the 1970s and in one case also met his young colleague Tony Blair.

In 1975 Howard married former model Sandra Paul , whose previous divorce had caused a stir in the UK public. The marriage produced a son and a daughter.

Howard reports that his paternal grandparents perished in Auschwitz and that his aunt survived the gas chamber :

"While in Auschwitz, she was sent to the gas chambers three times, but for various reasons - once they actually ran out of gas - she got away to tell the story."

Parliamentary and government career

It was not until the parliamentary elections of 1983 that Howard was able to run in a constituency that was promising for the Tories , Folkestone and Hythe . He won without difficulty and moved into the House of Commons.

Howard soon joined Margaret Thatcher's government and in 1985 became Undersecretary of State in the Department of Commerce and Industry, responsible for the finances of the City of London . After the 1987 elections, he became a minister responsible for local governments. Howard played a leading role in the introduction of the controversial poll tax in 1988. After a brief tenure as Minister of Water Management and Planning, he was promoted to Minister of Labor in January 1990, a post he retained after Thatcher's replacement under the new Prime Minister, John Major .

In the 1992 election campaign, he distinguished himself with sharp attacks against the unions. He was appointed Minister of the Interior after the elections for Environment Minister and in 1993 after a cabinet reshuffle. In particular, he devoted himself to the fight against crime; his harsh measures met with opposition from many judges and criminal reformers. However, an investigation into a series of outbreaks in 1996 damaged his reputation. In 1993 he arbitrarily increased the juvenile sentence from 8 to 15 years for the underage murderers of James Bulger due to a public outcry. In 1997 this decision was revised by the House of Lords and repealed as unlawful .

After the resignation of John Major in 1997, Howard joined the fight for party leadership. However, he only received the votes of 23 of his party's parliamentarians and ended up in fifth and last place. William Hague became the new chairman . After the Labor victory in the following general election, Howard became foreign minister in the Tory shadow cabinet for two years.

Party presidency

After the parliamentary elections of 2001, in which Labor again won under Tony Blair, Howard became shadow chancellor (= finance minister in the shadow cabinet) under the new party chairman Iain Duncan Smith . After Smith was voted out by the Tory MPs, Howard was elected unopposed candidate as the new Conservative leader in 2003. Commentators see Howard as a more successful party leader than Smith, but his previous role in the Thatcher administration is seen more as an obstacle to his popularity.

In February 2004, Howard called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to resign on the grounds that he had misled Parliament on allegations of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction prior to the Gulf War . However, Howard later supported the invasion because "the reward of a stable Iraq was worth the effort." His harsh criticism of Blair led to the refusal of a meeting in Washington by US President George W. Bush .

In the general election on May 5, 2005, Howard ran against Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was running for a third term. Although he succeeded in significantly increasing the number of his party's seats in the British House of Commons, he was unable to prevent the Labor Party from winning the third election victory in a row and also only slightly increased the Tories' share of the vote. After the election, he announced that he would hand over the chairmanship “sooner rather than later”, but at least before the next general election, to a younger successor. For the first time, the 300,000 party members should then decide in a primary election for the top candidate. The lower house deputies only made a preselection. The hot candidates were David Cameron and David Davis . In three ballots, the members of the Tory parliamentary group were finally able to vote on their nomination for the membership survey. In the decisive final ballot, David Cameron was able to prevail; he was confirmed by a large majority in the poll. He was the most inexperienced party leader in the history of the Conservative Party.

Later developments

After he did not run for the 2010 general election and left the House of Commons, he was promoted to Life Peer on July 13, 2010 as Baron Howard of Lympne , of Lympne in the County of Kent, and has been a member of the House of since then Lords .

In the referendum on the UK's possible exit from the EU, he supported the “ Brexit ” side and then the candidacy of Andrea Leadsom against Theresa May to succeed David Camerons in the party chairmanship and in the office of Prime Minister.

In the course of the Brexit negotiations, he compared the situation in Gibraltar with the Falklands War . He is certain that Prime Minister Theresa May Gibraltar will defend Gibraltar against Spain as resolutely as Margaret Thatcher would defend the Falkland Islands against Argentina 35 years earlier .


Web links

 Wikinews: Michael Howard  - on the news

Individual evidence

  1. Jeevan Vasagar: From Transylvania to Smith Square. The Guardian, November 2, 2003, accessed February 5, 2016 .
  2. Graham Johnson: Drug Lord: Guns, Powder and pay-offs. Mainstream Publishing eBooks, 2006/7 ISBN 9781845962401 , ISBN EPub ISBN 9781845968953 . P. 70
  3. ^ Andrew Sparrow: EU referendum: Michael Howard hints he will vote for Brexit. The Guardian, January 22, 2016, accessed February 5, 2016 .
  4. ^ Independent , July 3, 2004
  5. Lord Howard backs Andrea Leadsom for PM. BBC News, July 7, 2016, accessed July 11, 2016 .
  6. Brexit dispute over Gibraltar: The Stumbling Rock. April 3, 2017. Retrieved September 17, 2019 .