Leading Ribble Valley Tory pays tribute to Geoffrey Howe

Coun. Ken Hind
Coun. Ken Hind

A leading Ribble Valley Conservative has paid tribute to former Chancellor of the Exchequer Geoffrey Howe who died this week at the age of 88.

Ken Hind CBE, a former MP for West Lancashire who now represents the Dilworth ward as a councillor on Ribble Valley Borough Council, described Geoffey Howe as a “gentle man and intellectual.’’

Geoffrey Howe and Margaret Thatcher

Geoffrey Howe and Margaret Thatcher

Mr Hind said: “His achievements were immense and history will judge him well.

“It was my privilege to serve with Geoffrey in two governments albeit in a junior capacity.

“He was a man who had time to listen but had a phenomenal grasp of the economy and taxation. He laid the ground work for his successors to reduce income tax and establish the modern state as we know it.’’

Howe became Chancellor in 1979 and was Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s longest serving cabinet ministers.

Mr Hind added: “He took over after a winter of discontent in 1978 when the out of control unions battled with the then Labour government. The dead remained unburied, the streets not cleaned, rubbish uncollected and industrial relations in chaos.

“Along with Margaret Thatcher as PM and Keith Joseph as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry he took measures which our present Chancellor George Osbourne MP has been forced to make to reduce public expenditure to return to balanced books.

“He, like Margaret Thatcher, recognised that government should not run industry where the taxpayer provided the funding for investment either from tax or borrowing.

“He saw that industry should, through tax, make a contribution to the state to fund the NHS and services with industry and commerce borrowing for expansion on the open market.

‘He was part of a government which returned defence, energy, telecommunications and banking to the private sector, creating 12 million shareholders.

“He supported the policy of selling council houses to give every aspiring owner occupier a stake in their home.

‘‘At the time of his resignation speech I was sitting nearby to his left. We were conscious of the fact that as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary he was very loyal to Margaret Thatcher but at times the relationship was difficult.

“His famous comment in his resignation speech about Margaret Thatcher summed it up:

‘It is rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease, only to find... that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain, in the pavilion.’ “