Michael Howard was first elected in 1983 for Folkestone and Hythe. After a string of junior ministerial positions, including jobs which gave him responsibility for the poll tax and water privatisation, Margaret Thatcher, Ex-President, Somerville College, appointed him to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Employment in 1990. In this role, he was responsible for the Employment Act 1990, which made the closed shop illegal. Lord Howard supported Lady Thatcher in the 1990 leadership contest and retained his Cabinet post after its conclusion.
After the 1992 election, he was briefly Secretary of State for the Environment, before being appointed Home Secretary in 1993. Famously declaring “prison works”, Lord Howard implemented a necessary toughening of the justice system. Amongst other things, private prisons were introduced, tough mandatory sentences brought in and the right to silence curtailed. Lord Howard presided over a 15% fall in crime.
Lord Howard held a number of senior shadow positions after 1997, including Shadow Home Secretary, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Chancellor, before being elected to the Party Leadership in 2003. He led the Party in the 2005 general election, where Labour’s lead in the popular vote was cut from its 2001 figure of 9% to under 3%.
Lord Howard retired from frontbench politics after 2005. In 2010, he joined the House of Lords and was appointed a Companion of Honour (CH) in 2011.