Francis Pym has died. He was one of the leading Conservative politicians of the 1970s and early 1980s, ending up as Margaret Thatcher's Foreign Secretary following the Falklands War, a position he held until the 1983 General Election. It is true to say that he was never 'one of us' and was seen as one of the leading Tory wets. A chivalrous man, he could never quite bring himself to say what he really thought about Margaret Thatcher's brand of politics, and this was never more true than when he launched his Centre Forward pressure group after his departure from office.
His heyday was under Ted Heath when he was Chief Whip and Northern Ireland Secretary. From 1979-81 he held the post of Defence Secretary. He never really recovered from a gaffe on BBC's Question Time in 1983 when he said that large majorities were a bad thing and led to bad government. When Margaret Thatcher said she thought she would be able to cope with a large majority, it signalled the end of Francis Pym's cabinet career. John Biffen was to suffer a similar fate a few years later.
Pym's memoirs were a slim volume and very disappointing. He was a decorated war hero, serving in North Africa and Italy during the war and he was awarded the Military Cross. He entered Parliament in 1961 at a by-election and served as MP for Cambridgeshire, and then South East Cambridgeshire until 1987.
He died today, at the age of 86, after a lengthy illness.