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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

British Politician - Francis Pym 1922 to 2008


Francis Pym and Margaret Thatcher (early days)

Francis Pym of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government.
Francis Pym is a politician that must feature in my Retro Brit Blog because I have distinct memories of him during the Falkland conflict. I had no idea of the deeper Francis Pym until after his passing in 2008. I don't even remember him leaving office after the Falkland's War ended. He just seemed like a mildly spoken, calm and collective man when I saw him on television news interviews during the military conflict with Argentina - a good man in a storm.

Francis Pym was born in Wales on the 13th February 1922 and died 7th March 2008. He was born into a British political family that had been active in the Houses of Parliament for Centuries. He represented a more moderate type of Conservative and not really suited to the developing Thatch rite Tories of the eighties. This is strange because Francis Pym came to the fore of Public attention during Margaret Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister. I remember him replacing Lord Carrington during the Falklands Conflict. Little did I know then, that FrancisPym would be one of the Conservatives opposed to Margaret Thatcher’s monetary policies of the 80s decade for he seemed a sturdy Defence secretary during the Falklands campaign.

He was more closely allied with Margaret Thatcher when she became Conservative leader in 1975. When the Tories won office in 1979 with Margaret Thatcher at the head, Pym was given the job of Secretary of Defence. He wanted to be Foreign Secretary and had been a keen player in the European project or Common Market as it was known during Edward Heath’s Conservative Government, but this particular post was not awarded to him.

Francis Pym resigned and left the Defence Secretary post as he felt uneasy about national defence cut backs. This was in 1981 and perhaps he was already becoming disillusioned with the direction of the government on many issues - defence being one of them. Francis Pym left office and may have already been looking to the Wets (Conservatives opposed to their government’s policies) Perhaps in the wilderness, he could more easily speak out against (what many Brits believed to be) Margaret Thatcher’s aggressive and radical changes to the UK’s economic infrastructure.

Margaret Thatcher was beginning to confront the delicate issue of British industry and even began looking at liquidating and privatising many industries that were not performing. Things were radically changing from the seventies decades when Trade Unions had reached the zenith of their power. Margaret Thatcher’s government was meeting them head on.

Francis Pym’s disillusion concerning defence proved right because within a year, he was called back over an emergency. Argentina had invaded the Falkland Islands and Lord Carrington was forced to resign over the matter. Inadvertently, Mr Pym would do a good job as the UK reclaimed the Falklands after a military conflict – a battle that would enhance Margaret Thatcher’s standing to such a degree that she was able to win another term in power, enabling her to carry on her intense reforms that were necessary. Though at a cost of making entire sections of the nation unemployed for decades to come. Margaret Thatcher’s Tory Government won the 1983 election on a wave of patriotism because of the Falklands war and something that Francis Pym showed honest and patriotic loyalty too. However, it was to a style of government that he could not whole heartily support. He spoke of huge majorities not necessarily being a reason for good government. This was a swipe at Margaret Thatcher. She reacted instantly by replacing him. I don’t think Francis Pym minded this for he was more intent on supporting the Wets. These were people who were free to speak their minds against some of their government’s decisions of the eighties decade.

Francis Pym tried to combat Margaret Thatcher when she was at the zenith of her power and this part of Francis Pym’s, fading political career in the wilderness, is probably more remote. He is  famous for taking back office during the Falklands conflict and helping Margaret Thatcher’s government during a national emergency. This act seems to overshadow all else. Even when he left office after being replaced, there seems to have been hardly any ripples. What he did as a Wet did not seem to make much impact. Perhaps behind the corridors of power, he may have struck a few notes in the right ears. Who knows?

In 1985 he tried to launch an anti-Thatcherism movement within the Tory party but it was to no avail. Margaret Thatcher went on to win a third term in 1987 and in this year Francis Pym accepted a peerage. He quietly left politics to become the Baron of Sandy in Cambridgeshire.

Margaret Thatcher would come unstuck at a later date by upsetting too many of her cabinet ministers and the masses over Pole Tax. Maybe Francis Pym left some type of echo. For Margaret Thatcher would be politically taken down by the end of 1990 early 1991. Of course I’m not saying that Francis Pym did this, but he may have hammered the first nail of discontent in her coffin – one that went un-noticed and long before the things that brought her down took shape.

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