Michael Howard to stand down

Contributed by editor on Mar 17, 2006 - 11:06 PM



At a packed Annual General Meeting of Folkestone and Hythe Conservative Association last night (17 March), local MP Michael Howard announced that he will not be standing as the Conservative Candidate at the next General Election.

He said that after more than 20 years it was now time to move on.

"By the time of the next election I will have been an MP for 26 years, he said.

"I have been very privileged to serve as a Government minister for 12 years and in the shadow cabinets for six years but the time has now come to move on."

Michael thanked local members for their support over the years and said, “I cannot tell you how deep my gratitude is.�

Michael was born in Llanelli, Wales, where his Romanian Jewish shopkeeper father Bernard Hecht had moved as an immigrant . His mother, Hilda Kershion, was Welsh-born and of Eastern European Jewish ancestry. 

When he was six, the family name of Hecht was anglicised. He attended a state school and Peterhouse, Cambridge and was President of the Cambridge Union Society in 1962. 

He was called to the Bar in 1964. However, unlike his many Cambridge contemporaries, Howard found difficulty being selected for a winnable seat and so continued his career at the Bar where he became a Queen's Counsel in 1982. 

Michael was finally selected for the constituency of Folkestone and Hythe in succession to Sir Albert Costain, who was retiring and easily won his seat in the general election of 1983.

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. 

In 2001, however, he made a dramatic comeback as Shadow Chancellor, a role in which he attracted higher ratings than his many predecessors. 

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. 

Michael Howard's appointment as Leader of the Conservative Party in November 2003 marked the culmination of an outstanding political rebirth.