Tony was there ringside to see the sparring and the blows. He recalled a period of political history as he described his days in the House of Commons whilst serving as a Conservative MP for Stockport from June 1983 to April 1992 when he lost his seat to Labour. There is no doubt this was one of the most interesting and influential periods in British politics.
Tony was educated locally at Birkdale School and Sheffield University where he studied law. After graduating he set up his own legal practice which he continued to run when he was an MP. He lives in Edale in the Hope Valley, Derbyshire, and admitted to our members he was an ardent Sheffield Wednesday supporter which pleased one third of the audience, displeased one third, with the remainder presumably supporting another team or they may have preferred rugger!
He maintains he had no thoughts of going into politics but caught the bug when he became a councillor on the local council in Edale. He stood for parliament in 1979 for Bolsover but was defeated by the now legendry Dennis Skinner. He was elected as a Conservative MP for Stockport on 9th June 1983 under Margaret Thatcher’s government which held office from 4th May 1997 to 28th November 1990.
With Mrs Thatcher as Prime Minister, these were indeed exciting and troubling times with the miners’ strike, the riots and battles at Orgreave, troubles in Northern Ireland, widespread union unrest and a faltering economy. Tony’s ringside seat on history became much clearer as he touched on all these major episodes in the life of the government and the country.
John Major was very much in the ascendancy in this government, holding positions of Chief Secretary to the Treasury , Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Later Major succeeded Thatcher as Prime Minister. Tony became John Major’s personal private secretary, enjoyed working for him but resigned in 1990 when he disagreed with Major over the joining of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). Clearly he knew Mrs Thatcher well, always referring to her affectionately as Margaret in the talk and describing her as an extraordinary woman. Mrs Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister in 1990, although Tony and others tried to persuade her otherwise.
Tony clearly rubbed shoulders with the good and the mighty. This period of British politics saw many heavyweight politicians and characters slug it out in parliament including the likes of Lamont, Howe, Hailsham, Heseltine, Hattersley, Kinnock, Heath, Banks, Currie, Portillo, Benn, Boothby, Jenkins, Tebbit etc etc. – clearly a ringside seat to die for. It was a most interesting talk which prompted many questions from the floor about current politics and the period when Tony was in Parliament.