Tributes were paid last week to Lord Cecil Parkinson, one of Margaret Thatcher’s most loyal lieutenants, following his death at the age of eighty four after a long battle with cancer, his family announced. The Tory grandee was something of a mastermind behind Mrs Thatcher’s general election campaign that delivered her enormous majority in 1983, and later, as a result of his success, held a series of senior posts in her governments. A family spokesman said: “Cecil passed away on January 22 after a long battle with cancer. We shall miss him enormously. As a family, we should like to pay tribute to him as a beloved husband to Ann and brother to Norma, and a supportive and loving father to Mary, Emma and Joanna and grandfather to their children. We also salute his extraordinary commitment to British public life as a member of parliament, cabinet minister and peer, together with a distinguished career in business.” Prime Minister David Cameron led tributes to the former Cabinet minister, saying he had been “part of an extraordinary political generation”.
As a grammar school pupil who went to Cambridge, becoming a chartered accountant and enjoying a successful business career before entering parliament. Lord Parkinson entered the House of Commons after winning a by-election in Enfield West in 1970, and subsequently represented Hertfordshire South and Hertsmere as changes were made to constituency boundaries. He was an individual who appeared to have much in common with Baroness Thatcher. Lord Parkinson, a new biography of Mrs Thatcher has claimed, was her “favourite” in the cabinet and she wanted to make him foreign secretary after he had been a part of Mrs Thatcher’s war cabinet during the Falklands conflict and for his role in the 1983 campaign.
But the revelation that he had fathered a love child with Sara Keays, his former secretary, whom he later abandoned, curtailed his career, ensuring that he never secured one of the great offices of state, despite Thatcher’s apparent wish that he should be her successor. However, they agreed that the secret scandal meant he could not accept any of the most high-profile roles, which instead saw him become Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, but later resigned from the post after his affair was made public. He returned to the cabinet as Energy Secretary in 1987 and remained in the post until 1990, when he resigned on the day Mrs Thatcher stepped down as Prime Minister, later becoming Lord Parkinson of Carnforth after receiving a life peerage in 1992.