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Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Michael Howard
Michael Howard

Date of birth

7 July 1941

Political profile

Michael Howard's appointment as Leader of the Conservative Party in November 2003 marked the culmination of an outstanding political rebirth. After 14 years in frontline politics, he voluntarily returned to the backbenches in 1999, seemingly for good.

In 2001, however, he made a dramatic comeback as Shadow Chancellor, a role in which he attracted higher ratings than his many predecessors. As Leader, he immediately inspired a new-found unity within the Parliamentary Party.

He has since made some radical decisions, first reducing his Shadow Cabinet from 26 to 12, and then announcing that the lease on the Party Headquarters would be sold to raise funds.

His drive to make his Party electable has already been considerable, and, at the start of 2004, he published 15 core Conservative principles in a bid to ensure people know what it represents.

A member of the 1960s "Cambridge mafia" who played a leading role in the Conservative governments under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, Michael Howard was a Cabinet minister for seven years from 1990.

He was a right-wing Home Secretary, who introduced private prisons and tough mandatory sentences, although he does not support the reintroduction of the death penalty.

His spell in office was notable for an interview on Newsnight when he avoided answering the same question fourteen times.

After the 1997 election, he stood for the leadership of the Conservative Party. This bid was sabotaged by his own former Home Office deputy, Ann Widdecombe, who described him as having "something of the night" about him.

Contact

020 7219 5383

howardm@parliament.uk

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