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Michael Heseltine Biography (21/03/33-)

Michael Ray Dibdin Heseltine was born in Swansea, educated at Shrewsbury School and Oxford University where he allegedly wrote on a bit of paper 'millionaire 25, cabinet member 35, party leader 45, prime minister 55'. He made his millions in the publishing industry and entered the cabinet before he was forty but feel just short of his third objective and obviously thereby his fourth. At 33 he became MP for Tavistock (later he became MP for Henley on Thames) but despite being in Heath's government only achieved national prominence in 1976 during the debate on the nationalisation of shipbuilding and aerospace industries. Accounts of exactly what happened vary, but the most colourful image portrayed Heseltine seizing the mace and brandishing it towards Labour left-wingers who were celebrating winning the vote by singing the Red Flag, his long fair hair flowing behind him. From this he acquired the nickname Tarzan.

Michael Heseltine biography

 ‘The fundamental question is is the Conservative Party lead able?'

' If the basis of trust between the Prime Minister and her Defence Secretary no longer exists, there is no place for me with honour in such a Cabinet.'

As Secretary of State for the Environment in 1979 he was sent in as a troubleshooter to deal with the explosion of violence in Britain's inner cities during the early 1980s. He later served as Defence Secretary from 1983 until 1986, when he resigned over the bitter dispute over a defence contract going to a US firm rather than Westland Helicopters of the UK. From the backbenchers he became the focus of opposition to Margaret  and wooed the party's grassroots, one political commentator wryly observing that 'he knew how to find the clitoris of the Conservative Party'.

Despite gathering a large number of votes in his 1990 leadership challenge, mostly from the left of the party, he only succeeded in galvanising the right who rallied behind Margaret 's  chosen successor John Major. Major brought him back into government as Secretary of State for the Environment (with particular responsibility for replacing the Poll Tax, later as President of the Board of Trade and then Deputy Prime Minister. After retirement from the commons he was given a life peerage as Baron Heseltine, of Thenford in the County of Northamptonshire.

Pictures by Daniel Morgernstern