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The Right Honourable
 The Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar
 PC Bt.

In office
4 May 1979 – 11 September 1981
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Fred Peart
Succeeded by Humphrey Atkins

In office
8 January 1974 – 4 March 1974
Prime Minister Edward Heath
Preceded by Peter Carington
Succeeded by Roy Mason

Born 8 July 1926
London, UK
Died 21 September 2007 (aged 81)
Isleworth, Greater London, UK
Political party Conservative

Ian Hedworth John Little Gilmour, Baron Gilmour of Craigmillar, PC, Bt. (8 July 1926 – 21 September 2007) was a Conservative politician in the United Kingdom. He was styled Sir Ian Gilmour, 3rd Baronet from 1977, having succeeded to his father's baronetcy, until he became a life peer in 1992. He served as Secretary of State for Defence in 1974, in the government of Edward Heath, and, although a leading figure on the socially liberal, or "wet", wing of the Conservative party, he also served in the government of Margaret Thatcher, as Lord Privy Seal from 1979 to 1981.


Early life

Gilmour was the son of stockbroker Lieutenant Colonel Sir John Gilmour, 2nd Baronet, and his wife, Victoria, a granddaughter of the 5th Earl of Cadogan. His parents divorced in 1929, and his father remarried to Mary, the eldest daughter of the 3rd Duke of Abercorn. The family had land in Scotland and shares in Meux's Brewery.

They lived in the grounds of Syon Park in London, with a house in Tuscany. He was educated at Eton College and read law at Balliol College, Oxford.

He served with the Grenadier Guards from 1944 to 1947. He was called to the bar at Inner Temple in 1952 and was a tenant in the chambers of Quintin Hogg for two years. He bought The Spectator in 1954 and was its editor from 1954 to 1959. He sold The Spectator to the businessman Harold Creighton in 1967.

Member of Parliament

He was elected as Member of Parliament for Central Norfolk in a by-election in 1962, winning by 220 votes. He held this seat until 1974, when his seat was abolished due to boundary changes, and he stood for the safe Conservative seat of Chesham and Amersham, sitting as its MP from 1974 until his retirement in 1992.

In parliament, he was a social liberal, voting to abolish the death penalty, and legalise abortion and homosexuality. He also supported the campaign to join the EEC. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Quintin Hogg from 1963.


In government

He served in Edward Heath's government from 1970, holding a variety of junior positions in the Ministry of Defence under Lord Carrington: Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Army from 1970 to 1971, then Minister of State for Defence Procurement until 1972, then Minister of State for Defence. He joined the Privy Council in 1973. He replaced Carrington in January 1974 to join Heath's Cabinet as Defence Secretary, but lost his position after Labour won the most seats in the general election at the end of February. He was in the Shadow Cabinet after the general election in February 1974 as Shadow Defence Secretary to late 1974. From the end of 1974 to February 1975 he was Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary.

In opposition, Gilmour joined the Conservative Research Department. With Chris Patten, he wrote the Conservative Party manifesto for the October 1974 election - a second loss, by a wider margin. When Margaret Thatcher became the new leader of the Conservative party, she appointed Gilmour as Shadow Home Secretary in 1975, then as Shadow Defence Secretary from 1976 to 1978. He became Lord Privy Seal after the 1979 UK general election, as the chief Government spokesman in the House of Commons for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, working again under Lord Carrington, who, as Foreign Secretary, sat in the House of Lords. He was closely involved in the Lancaster House talks, which led to the end of Ian Smith's government in Rhodesia, and the creation of an independent Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe. He also negotiated with the EEC to reduce Britain's financial contribution.

Backbenches and retirement

Gilmour did not have good relations with Thatcher. He survived a reshuffle in January 1981, but was sacked on 14 September 1981. He announced that the government was "steering full speed ahead for the rocks", and said that he regretted not resigning beforehand.

Gilmour remained on the backbenches until 1992, and opposed many Thatcherite policies, including the abolition of the Greater London Council, rate-capping and the poll tax. He was in favour of proportional representation. In 1989, he was considered by discontented backbenchers as a possible future leader; in the event, he supported Sir Anthony Meyer in his leadership challenge in December 1989. However, he did not participate in frontline British politics again, and was given a life peerage by John Major in 1992, becoming Baron Gilmour of Craigmillar, of Craigmillar in the District of the City of Edinburgh, of which his family were, for several hundred years, the feudal superiors.

Gilmour was known for writing coherently from the One Nation perspective of the Conservative Party, in opposition to Thatcherism; in particular in his books Dancing with Dogma (1992) and (with Mark Garnett) Whatever Happened to the Tories (1997) and in his critical articles in journals such as the London Review of Books. Inside Right (1977) is an introduction to conservative thought and thinkers. He was pro-European (or, perhaps, better described as "anti-Eurosceptic").[1] He also wrote the books The Body Politic (1969), Inside Right (1977), Britain Can Work (1983), Riot, Risings and Revolution (1992), and The Making of the Poets (2002).

He was president of Medical Aid for Palestinians from 1993 to 1996, and was chairman of the Byron Society from 2003 until his death.

Personal life

On 10 July 1951, Gilmour married Lady Caroline Margaret Montagu-Douglas-Scott, the youngest daughter of the 8th Duke of Buccleuch. Their wedding was attended by several members of the British Royal Family, including Queen Mary. They lived in Isleworth, and had four sons and one daughter. His wife died in 2004, but he was survived by their five children, the eldest of whom, the Hon. David Gilmour, succeeded to his father's baronetcy.


Lord Gilmour died on 21 September 2007 of undisclosed causes, aged 81, at West Middlesex Hospital, Isleworth, Greater London, after a short illness.[1]



External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Richard Collard
Member of Parliament for Central Norfolk
1962 – Feb 1974
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Chesham and Amersham
Feb 19741992
Succeeded by
Cheryl Gillan
Political offices
Preceded by
Lord Carrington
Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
Roy Mason
Preceded by
Lord Peart
Lord Privy Seal
1979 – 1981
Succeeded by
Humphrey Atkins
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Little Gilmour
(of Liberton)
Succeeded by
the Hon. David Robert Gilmour


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