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PARKINSON Cecil

Jonathan Maitland’s play Dead Sheep portrayed Geoffrey Howe as a man torn between two strong women: his wife, Elspeth, and his boss, Margaret Thatcher.  Were he to attempt a play about Cecil Parkinson, it would feature three: Thatcher; Parkinson’s wife, Ann, and Sara Keays, his secretary (not to mention four daughers).

The story of Parkinson’s resignation is too well known to require telling again, but that it involved three women in different capacities hints at his charm – just as his rank as Trade and Industry Secretary, and his previous post as a landslide-assisting Party Chairman, help to convey his steel, brains and ability.

The new conservatism that Thatcher was forging lacked heavyweight champions during her first Parliamentary term.  Parkinson was one of the first to emerge, and he put the case for her policies and against Michael Foot’s smoothly but substantially: where others lectured, he sought to persuade.

One of the archetypes which Thatcher evokes is that of the nanny. “One nanny said, “Feed a cold”; she was a neo-Keynesian,” said Macmillan in his later years. “Another nanny said, “Starve a cold”; she was a monetarist.”  He was referring to Thatcher and her policies.

But it was Parkinson who would deploy a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.  It is hard now to remember just how big he had become by the time of that 1983 win.  He was poised for the Foreign Office, and perhaps as Thatcher’s successor – though he would have been a bit long in the tooth, politically at least, by 1990.

He was also a Thatcherite in another sense: northern where some of the old-school Tories were southern, and grammar school educated amidst more Old Etonians than the Parliamentary Party boasts now.  He came back later as Energy and Transport Secretary, and then after 1997 as Party Chairman – which it was sporting of him to do.

Parkinson’s tale is also story of how much the country has changed.  Today, a senior politician of similar rank would simply leave his wife, settle down with his lover, and carry on regardless.  For better or worse, Parkinson stayed with his wife, but his political career died on the day of his resignation.  Now he is gone altogether.

One nanny said, “Feed a cold”; she was a neo-Keynesian. Another nanny said, “Starve a cold”; she was a monetarist.
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/604162
One nanny said, “Feed a cold”; she was a neo-Keynesian. Another nanny said, “Starve a cold”; she was a monetarist.
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/604162
One nanny said, “Feed a cold”; she was a neo-Keynesian. Another nanny said, “Starve a cold”; she was a monetarist.
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/604162

39 comments for: Cecil Parkinson – the man who offered Thatcherism with a spoonful of sugar

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