| Francis Pym |
|Born||Francis Leslie Pym|
|Died||2008-03-07 (Age 86)|
|Alma mater||Eton, Magdalene College (Cambridge)|
|Member of||Nobody's Friends, The Other Club|
Francis Leslie Pym, Baron Pym was a British Conservative politician who served in various Cabinet positions in the 1970s and 1980s, including Foreign, Defence and Northern Ireland Secretary, and Leader of the House of Commons.
Having previously been considered Thatcher's chief challenger, Pym was sacked as foreign secretary in 1983, the final role in which he and a long line of similar semi-patrician top Tories had failed to curb her more extreme policies.
He was educated at Eton, before going on to Magdalene College, Cambridge. For much of the Second World War, Pym served in North Africa and Italy as a captain and regimental adjutant in the 9th Lancers. He was mentioned in despatches twice, awarded the Military Cross, and ended his military service as a major. Pym was a managing director and landowner before he went into politics.
Pym entered politics as a member of Herefordshire County Council in 1958. He contested Rhondda West without success in 1959 and entered Parliament in 1961 at a by-election as MP for Cambridgeshire. He held the seat until 1983, and thereafter was MP for South East Cambridgeshire until 1987. He was an opposition whip from 1964 and served under Edward Heath as Government Chief Whip (1970–1973) and Northern Ireland Secretary (1973–1974), and Margaret Thatcher as Defence Secretary (1979–1981), Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council (1981–1982).
Pym was a leading member of the "wets", Conservative MPs sceptical of Thatcherism. During the 1983 general election campaign he said on the BBC's Question Time that "Landslides don't on the whole produce successful governments". This was publicly repudiated by Thatcher and he was sacked after the election. Shortly afterwards, he launched a pressure group called Conservative Centre Forward to argue for more centrist, one-nation policies. But with Thatcher at the height of her powers, it was unsuccessful. He stood down at the 1987 election and was created a life peer as Baron Pym (of Sandy in the County of Bedfordshire) on 9 October 1987.
He was the author of The Politics of Consent, published in 1984 after he left the government. The book is a guide to the Wets' opposition to Thatcher's leadership style and politics.
- Document:Maggie's Guilty Secret
- Theakston 2004, p. 141.