Francis Urquhart

From Exordium Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Right Honourable
The Duke of Lyndhurst
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
5 May 1983 – 14 August 1994
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byPeter Shore
Succeeded byMichael Howard
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
25 July 1978 – 14 August 1994
Preceded byEdward Heath
Succeeded byMichael Howard
Chief Whip in the House of Commons
In office
2 December 1973 – 8 June 1978
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byFrancis Pym
Succeeded byMichael Cocks
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temperal
Assumed office
2 January 2001
Member of Parliament
for New Forrest
In office
19 June 1970 – 8 May 2000
Preceded byPatrick McNear-Wilson
Succeeded byDesmond Swayne
Personal details
Born Francis Ewan Urquhart
13 October 1936 (age 83)
Islay, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Elizabeth McCullough (m. 1967)
Parents Ewan Urquhart, 6th Earl of Lochaber
Mary MacLeod
Alma mater Fettes College;
Oxford University

Francis Ewan Urquhart, Duke of Lyndhurst, (born 13 October 1936), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1983 to 1994 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1978 to 1994. Urquhart is a member of the hard right of the Conservative Party, and he was known to be a machiavellian leader, who despite his soft spoken and dowdy mannerisms maintained a great deal of influence over the politics of Britain and the world in the 1980s and early 1990s. An urbane, Fettes-educated classicist, Urquhart was the third and youngest son of the 6th Earl of Lochaber.

As Prime Minister, Urquhart sought to revitalise the British economy, clamp down on vagrancy and to increase Britain’s presence on the world stage. The “Three Arrows” of Urquhartism were notorious in their effectiveness, although the images of pensioners thrown onto the streets, the privatisation of the BBC, the re-imposition of the death penalty for capital crimes and the successful reintroduction of National Service, continued to divide the United Kingdom and then England and Scotland.

The Urquhart years were not entirely secure for the Prime Minister. The death of numerous allies and friends, either through falling, car bombs, and a cocaine overdose all caused him immense personal trauma, although he was stoically able to show almost no emotion for the majority of them. He won three landslide elections.

A polarising figure in British politics, Urquhart is nonetheless viewed favourably in historical rankings and public opinion of British prime ministers. His tenure constituted a realignment towards neoliberal policies in Britain, with the complicated legacy attributed to Urquhartism debated into the 21st century. He is a second cousin, twice removed, of the incumbent American House Republican Whip, Frank Underwood of South Carolina.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Francis Urquhart was born in 1936, the youngest of the Earl of Bruichcladdich's three sons; his oldest brother, John, was killed during World War II, while his middle brother, Kenneth, later sat in the House of Lords. He was educated at Fettes College, and he served in the British Army in Cyprus for three years, taking part in the capture and interrogation of EOKA terrorists. He resigned his commission after a colleague was court-martialed for accidentally killing a suspect, and he went on to study at the University of Oxford, where he would go on to teach Renaissance Italian History. He married Elizabeth McCullough, the daughter of a whiskey magnate, and he later abandoned academia in favor of politics.

Political Career[edit | edit source]

After his father's suicide, Urquhart resolved to enter politics rather than maintain his father's estate, leading to his mother disowning him. He abandoned the academia and rose in the ranks of the Conservative Party, rising to the rank of chief whip.

Urquhart lived on an estate in Lyndhurst, Hampshire, and he was elected MP for New Forest in 1970. He is a hard-right member of the Tories, and he supported abolishing the Arts Council, outlawing vagrancy, reintroducing conscription, banning pensioners from the NHS unless they paid for age insurance, and opposed the welfare state.

After Conservative Party leader Edward Heath resigned, Urquhart successfully stood to replace him after all other candidates withdrew or were eliminated. He constantly bested the unpopular Peter Shore at Prime Minister’s Questions and was elected in a landslide at the 1983 general election.

Urquhart could not have presented a clearer contrast with his predecessor. The “Three Arrows” of Urquhartism were notorious in their effectiveness, although the images of pensioners thrown onto the streets, the re-imposition of the death penalty for capital crimes, the privatisation of the BBC and the successful reintroduction of National Service, would divide the United Kingdom.

In foreign affairs, Urquhart’s time in office is best known for the handover of Northern Ireland. In 1987, Northern Ireland was granted temporary independence as the Ulster Free State. Throughout it’s short existence, the Ulster Free State was troubled by economic woes and a large exodus of people and workers to Britain. In 1989, with the consent of the British, Irish and Ulster administrations, Northern Ireland finally joined the Republic of Ireland. Towards the end of his tenure, Urquhart would be one of a number of world leaders who signed the Stockholm Accords in order to bring an end to the Cold War.

Domestically, he was heavily criticised for his partial privatisation of the NHS but gained international acclaim for his response to the Waterloo bombing in 1986 and the counter-terrorism measures enacted afterwards, which some felt overstretched constitutional rights. Urquhart was also premier during the 1988 General Strike, where his actions were both praised and condemned.

After leaving office, Urquhart stood down from the Commons in 2000 and was elevated to the Lords the next year as the Duke of Lyndhurst. He currently resides in the Bahamas with his wife Elizabeth. Despite this he regularly makes speeches and writes newspaper articles on the state of English politics.