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Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 12:27 GMT
Andrew Lansley: Shadow Cabinet Office

Andrew Lansley is one of the 1997 intake of Conservative MPs to make it into William Hague's shadow cabinet.

That was despite the fact he first backed former home secretary Michael Howard and then former chancellor Ken Clarke in the leadership battle that followed John Major's resignation.

A former civil servant Mr Lansley cites Norman Tebbit as his political hero.

That places him on the Thatcherite right of the Tory party.

Thatcher loyalist

He has said that the Conservatives should have stuck with Margaret Thatcher in 1990, believing that she would have gone on to win a subsequent election even with the poll tax still part of party policy.

Originally Mr Lansley was a civil servant but working for Lord Tebbit as private secretary at the department of trade and industry (DTI) in 1984 convinced him that he should be a politician.

He followed his political mentor to the Cabinet Office which gave him an insider's view of the section of government which he now shadows.

After a stint back at the DTI he went to run the Conservatives' research department in 1990 and remained there after John Major took over in the wake of the Thatcher resignation.

He stayed on until the Tory victory in 1992 - an outcome which he said he thought would happen although he has conceded that he was not as convinced as Mr Major.

Significant contribution

Mr Lansley is the person credited with many of the tactical decisions of that campaign which many pundits had thought would be won by Labour.

In the years after 1992 he decided to actively seek a seat and secured one in Cambridgeshire South.

He secured victory in 1997 when so many Tories fell victim to Labour's landslide and was almost immediately asked to run the Uxbridge by-election that was held in the wake of the death of Sir Michael Shersby shortly after the general election.

The Conservatives retained the seat despite an all-out campaign by Labour.

Mr Lansley became vice-president of the party and was appointed in to assist Michael Ancram and Peter Lilley on future policy development at Tory Central Office.

Impressed

He impressed as both a media spokesman and as campaign co-ordinator for the 1999 Euro-elections which the Tories won.

His reward was promotion to the shadow cabinet, shadowing first Jack Cunningham and then Mo Mowlam - and he was also made a member of Hague's "A-Team" to plan election strategy and future policy.

He is a rising star who has been tipped as a future cabinet minister.

And it is clear that Mr Hague must have faith in his talents.

The Tory leader appointed Mr Lansley to be part of the inner circle running this Conservative election campaign.

Leading role

He is the chief campaign spokesman with responsibility for the political and strategic side of the campaign.

Mr Lansley had some experience of politics at university.

That was partly because he studied it as a subject when he was at Exeter but also because he secured election as president of the student's union.

He has said his narrow victory on that occasion was because he had the backing of both Labour and Liberal Democrats, as well as the Tories against a Maoist and a Trotskyite.

Mr Lansley's university days were happier than his time at Brentwood School, Essex whose old boys include Jack Straw, Howard Flight and Fabian Hamilton.

He has said that he "didn't enjoy school very much".

Mr Lansley's father, Thomas, was a medical laboratory scientist and his mother, Irene, was a secretary.

He married GP and school doctor Marilyn in 1985 and they have three daughters.

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