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I'm ashamed to say I had no idea that Pym won the Military Cross. A most distinguished and brave man and my thoughts are with his family and his friends.

A fine politician and a wise man. Landslides can certainly be a two-edged sword. In some ways a fantastic opportunity to effect real lasting change but detrimental because real accountability can only come from within government itself. As we lose these great men and women who served our nation well it makes us all the more conscious of the poor standard of the modern parliamentarian.

"Had these most honourable men ran the Conservative Party and not Margaret Thatcher I am convinced the Tories would still be in power today."

Effie, I doubt it would have been possible for the Conservaives, or any party for that matter, to stay in unbroken power for 29 years no matter who led the party in the 1980s.
But I salute Francis Pym also.

Had these most honourable men ran the Conservative Party and not Margaret Thatcher I am convinced the Tories would still be in power today."

Effie, I doubt it would have been possible for the Conservaives, or any party for that matter, to stay in unbroken power for 29 years no matter who led the party in the 1980s.
But I salute Francis Pym also.

Posted by: Votedave | March 07, 2008 at 16:
Vote Dave
It appears that my tribute to Lord Pym has mysteriously disappeared, such a shame as those gents I mentioned were wonderful.
I was not aware my posts were banned.

In the early 1990's I served on the Board of the English Speaking Union under the chairmanship of Francis Pym. At Board meetings he was always considerate to a rather enthusiastic 22 year old, and was a great example of efficiency and dignity in public service.

The Nation has lost a true gentleman, and compassionate Conservatism a real friend and advocate.

The Nation has lost a true gentleman, and compassionate Conservatism a real friend and advocate.

Posted by: Charles Barwell | March 07, 2008

A wonderful man, a true English gentleman and a one nation Conservative.
We will never see the likes of the Lord's Pym, Gilmoure, Biffen and Weatherall ever again.
These men were not only first class caring MP's but they were shining examples of everything good in this Country.

R.I.P. Lord Pym, I mourn your passing but you have earned your rest.

He will be greatly missed. This goes to show why Cameron needs to call on the talent of the 'old guard' before it's too late.

I was lucky to have Francis as a constituent for the last few years. I last saw him about a year or so ago, and brought him upto date with our new Leader and what we were all about at Westminster. Though frail physically, his mind was sharp as ever. He missed not getting to Westminster in his latter years.

He was immensely loved in Sandy, Beds, where his family home lies and all the characteristics written about above, his sense of public service and his courtesy to all were always in evidence.

He will be well remembered in humble homes tonight as well as the grandest, which is not a bad measure of a man. The Conservative Party has been the better for his presence within in and his service to it.

There is something very odd about the ordering of this thread. Not the sort of military organisation that I think Francis Pym MC would have appreciated.

A fine man, even though I quite often disagreed with him. After he left the Government he tried in about 1985 to set up some sort of counter-Thatcher ginger group (was it called "Centre Forward" or was that something else, someone might remember?) which somewhat to his surprise more or less sank without trace. But it was wrong to have sacked him purely because he admitted that a landslide would cause difficulties (if that was the real reason); he was being candid and not party political - but 7 days before General Election day is not necessarily the best time for that.

Pym's sad death is the 12th out of the 22 people in Mrs Thatcher's first cabinet - so, past the tipping point. This makes some of us, even if we were a lot younger than her cabinet, feel old. For the affionados, taking them in order of seniority in the cabinet, I think the tally is:

Thatcher - alive!
Whitelaw - dead
Hailsham - dead
Carrington - alive
Howe - alive
Joseph - dead
Pym - dead
Soames - dead
Prior - alive
Gilmour - dead
Walker - alive
Heseltine - alive
Younger - dead
Edwards - dead
Atkins - dead
Jenkin - alive
St John Stevas - alive
Nott - alive
Howell - alive
Carlisle - dead
Biffen - dead
Maude - dead

I stand corrected if I am wrong in any particular.

Whilst I certainly do not wish anyone's demise, I'd wager than the good lady will still see out quite a few more, despite her reported frailty.

Landslides can certainly be a two-edged sword.
A poliical party has to take the position that it is out to win every single seat they are putting up a candidate in, other parties may raise the spectre of what a certain party getting a certain number of seats will mean, but it is very dangerous for not only someone to raise concerns that their party may be going to get too many seats, but rather for an MP and cabinet minister at that to do it - supposing people had become so worried over the Conservative majority, so convinced that the Conservatives would win anyway that Michael Foot had ended up PM.

People would not now be talking about him except glowing terms, he undoubtedly had a major effect on the size of the majority, maybe even enough to have made the difference in the vote on Sunday Trading in 1986 which the government lost, and yet Bank Holidays and Sunday Trading restrictions really are things of the past when individual people's working patterns were much more similar before the Industrial Revolution.

Certainly he had a distinguished war record, as have many of the WWI and WWII generation MPs, he certainly was forthright and genuine in his views as for example John Biffen was, too often though when people die, many overlook things they got wrong, even many who were opposed to them, just as some overlook many of the good things they did as well.

He was very much of an era, and was the consummate public servant, exemplified in his taking the baton from Lord Carrington at the time of the Falklands. But, unlike his ancestor John Pym, his gentlemanly qualities allowed him to be outclassed and out-manouevred by his leader. She had learnt how to fight, and not for nothing did she call Pym and his ilk 'wets'.

Francis Pym was a brave man, distinguished in battle and fully deserving of the honours he received in life and the praise he receives in death. He did great service for our country and his fellow citizens.

However the 'he was fired because "he had suggested that a Thatcher landslide might not be the best thing for the country." is a media myth. He did indeed receive praise as Foreign Secretary during the Falklands War but that praise was strongest from those opposed to the War. Pym, quite honourably and with best of intentions, was willing to discuss the US & UN peace plans and to compromise on long term sovereignty and self determination for the Falklands. Many still believe that the cost of life on both sides was too high a price to pay. Mrs Thatcher did not but could not fire a Foreign Secretary so soon after Carrington's retirement.

In my opinion she was right to do when she could as Pym was unsuited in temperament or philosophy to be a Foreign Secretary in the decade that finally broke the Iron Curtain - that needed different skills and a different approach.

Margaret Thatcher fired Francis Pym for no other reason than he was a wet and opposed most of what she believed in.If he had stayed in the cabinet and been able to temper some of the more extreme measures that occured after his firing namely the poll tax then perhaps Margaret Thatcher wouldn`t have been thrown out of office like she was.

The origin of Pym's 'landslide' gaffe was his appearance on an election 83 edition of Question Time. With Labour having no hope of winning, their last line of argument was to try and reduce the Tory majority. Pym rather walked into this trap, agreeing that large majorities can be dangerous, and giving the example of the 1945 Labour government! Mrs Thatcher laughed it off later as natural "chief whip's caution". I doubt it actually finished his career; don't forget there was a new generation of minister coming up after the 83 election such as Parkinson and Lawson.

BTW I loved the line in the Telegraph obitury about Pym fending off pressure from the Carter Administration in 1979 "to set a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Northern Ireland". How times change.

With Labour having no hope of winning, their last line of argument was to try and reduce the Tory majority.
Or rather their last hope was to try to limit the increase in the Conservative majority - there wasn't even any chance for Labour that they would win as many votes or seats as they had done in 1979, but they could easily have ended up getting substantially fewer, even though if it hadn't been for worries about the size of the majority then the Alliance probably would have been even more badly hit because of wrangling between the SDP and Liberals and the constant humiliation of Liberal conferences voting for unlilateral nuclear disarmament.

I didn't know that George Younger was no longer with us either.

Labour could have limited the damage and polled 32-33% in 1983 if it wasn't for their campaign, but they couldn't have done as well as in 1979 because of the SDP and Alliance.

The Tory vote in 1983 was actually down a bit on 1979 and against the opinion polls - ironically if Labour had been a bit higher they might have done a bit better aswell.

Thank you to Andrew for stating that Pym's landslide "gaffe" was on Question Time, as that was my recollection. The Guardian today stated that it was in an election press conference and also that he was sacked "within months" when of course he was sacked immediately after the election. I suppose one shouldn't expect much of obits of Tory grandees in the Guardian, even if by Andrew Roth - I fear he writes more from memory than research. He also misjudged several social nuances by saying that he had the politeness of an Old Etonian (I know many - few are polite, charming yes, polite no: the true sign of a gentleman is that he is only rude when he means to be, and Etonian gentleman often mean to be. If Pym never was, he was an exception); and the something else of the professional middle class (he was gentry, not middle class).

I am glad I also got the Telegraph where the obit was much closer to the mark. I particularly liked their quote that Pym had said he "felt it was enough to know that abroad was there, you didn't have to go there".

It was good to see in Cambridge today that his old College, Magdalene, is flying a flag at half mast. He was an Honorary Fellow as well as an alumnus of the College and, as a Cambridgeshire MP, I believe had always kept in touch.

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