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Nigel Lawson

(b. 1932)


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(b. London, 11 Mar. 1932)

British; Chancellor of the Exchequer 1983–89; Baron (life peer) 1992 Educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford, where he took a first in PPE, Lawson had a distinguished career as a journalist before entering parliament. After ten years as a financial journalist and a year spent as a speech writer to Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1963–4), he was appointed editor of the Spectator in 1966, a post he held for four years. In 1970 he stood unsuccessfully as Conservative candidate for Eton and Slough. He entered parliament in February 1974, shortly before his 42nd birthday, as MP for the safe seat of Blaby in Leicestershire. Within two years he had been appointed an Opposition whip and in 1977 was made a spokesman on Treasury affairs. A neo-liberal, he was appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury when the party was returned to office in 1979. In 1981 he entered the Cabinet as Energy Secretary and in 1983 he began a six-year stint as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He set about simplifying the tax system and reducing the level of direct taxation, actions that made him popular with both the party and the Prime Minister. Though he shared Margaret Thatcher's economic philosophy, he opposed the introduction of the poll tax and, with the Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, pushed the Prime Minister to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism. The Prime Minister's increasing reliance on the advice of her economic adviser Sir Alan Walters resulted in Lawson demanding Walters's departure. When this was refused, he resigned, creating a short period of intense political difficulty for the Prime Minister.

After leaving government, Lawson accepted a directorship of Barclays Bank and wrote a massive volume of memoirs, The View from Number 11 (1992), providing a fascinating insight into economic policy-making. Though widely recognized—including by Margaret Thatcher—as being intellectually brilliant, he also had a reputation for intellectual arrogance. He was not a clubbable politician and the consequences of his expansionary 1988 budget reduced his support on the back benches. He left the House of Commons in 1992, taking a life peerage as Lord Lawson of Blaby. Since resigning he has followed a business career. In recent years he has expressed concern over the case for global warming, summarized in his 2008 book An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming.

Subjects: Politics — Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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