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The Right Honourable
 The Lord Lawson of Blaby 

In office
11 June 1983 – 26 October 1989
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Geoffrey Howe
Succeeded by John Major

In office
14 September 1981 – 11 June 1983
Preceded by David Howell
Succeeded by Peter Walker

In office
4 May 1979 – 14 September 1981
Preceded by Robert Sheldon
Succeeded by Nicholas Ridley

Born 11 March 1932 (1932-03-11) (age 77)
Hampstead, North London, England
Political party Conservative
Religion none (Jewish extraction) [1]

Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby, PC (born 11 March 1932), is a British Conservative politician and journalist who was Chancellor of the Exchequer from June 1983 to October 1989. His tenure in that office was longer than that of any of his predecessors since David Lloyd George (1908-15), until it was surpassed by Gordon Brown in September 2003. He is founder and chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation which aims to challenge current governmental policies designed to mitigate the effects of anthropogenic global warming.

Lawson is the father of journalist and food writer Nigella Lawson, the late Thomasina Lawson, Horatia Lawson, Dominic Lawson, the former editor of The Sunday Telegraph, Tom Lawson, housemaster of Chernocke House at Winchester College, and Emily Lawson, a TV producer.


Early life

He was born in Hampstead in 1932, the son of Ralph Lawson, a tea merchant, and Joan Elisabeth Davis, the daughter of a stockbroker. His grandfather Gustav Leibson, a Jewish immigrant from Mitau (now Jelgava in Latvia) changed his name from Leibson to Lawson after becoming a British Citizen in 1911.[2] After studying at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained a first class honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics,[3][4][5][6][7] he carried out his National Service in the Royal Navy - during which time he commanded a small torpedo boat. Lawson began his career as a financial journalist and progressed to the positions of city editor of The Sunday Telegraph in 1961 and editor of The Spectator (1966–1970) before becoming Member of Parliament for Blaby in Leicestershire in February 1974 (a position he held until retiring at the 1992 General Election). While in opposition, he co-ordinated tactics with government backbenchers Jeff Rooker and Audrey Wise to secure legislation providing for the automatic indexation of tax thresholds to prevent the tax burden being increased by inflation (typically in excess of 10% per annum during that parliament).

In government

On the election of Margaret Thatcher's government, Lawson was appointed to the position of Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Although this is the fourth-ranking political position in the British Treasury, Lawson's energy in office was reflected in such measures as the ending of unofficial state controls on mortgage lending, the abolition of exchange controls in October 1979 and the publication of the Medium Term Financial Strategy. This document set the course for both the monetary and fiscal sides of the new government's economic policy, though the extent to which the subsequent trajectory of policy and outcome matched that projected is still a matter for debate.

In the cabinet reshuffle of September 1981, Lawson was promoted to the position of Secretary of State for Energy. In this role his most significant action was to prepare for what he saw as an inevitable full-scale strike in the coal industry (then state-owned since nationalisation by the post-war government of Clement Attlee) over the closure of pits whose operation accounted for the coal industry's business losses and consequent requirement for state subsidy.

Lawson was a key proponent of the Thatcher Government's privatisation policy. During his tenure at the Department of Energy he set the course for the later privatizations of the gas and electricity industries and on his return to the Treasury he worked closely with the Department of Trade and Industry in privatizing British Airways, British Telecom, and British Gas.

After the government's re-election in 1983, Lawson was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in succession to Sir Geoffrey Howe. The early years of Lawson's chancellorship were associated with tax reform. The 1984 budget reformed corporate taxes by a combination of reduced rates and reduced allowances. The 1985 budget continued the trend of shifting from direct to indirect taxes by reducing National Insurance contributions for the lower-paid while extending the base of value-added tax.

During these two years Lawson's public image remained low-key, but from the 1986 budget (in which he resumed the reduction of the standard rate of personal Income Tax from the 30% rate to which it had been lowered in Sir Geoffrey Howe's 1979 budget), his stock rose as unemployment began to fall from the middle of 1986 (employment growth having resumed over three years earlier).

The trajectory taken by the UK economy from this point on is typically described as 'The Lawson Boom' by analogy with the phrase 'The Barber Boom' which describes an earlier period of rapid expansion under the tenure as chancellor of Anthony Barber in the Conservative government of Sir Edward Heath (1970 to 1974). Critics of Lawson assert that a combination of the abandonment of monetarism, the adoption of a de facto exchange-rate target of 3 deutschmarks to the pound (ruling out interest-rate rises), and excessive fiscal laxity (in particular the 1988 budget) unleashed an inflationary spiral.

Lawson, in his own defence, attributes the boom largely to the effects of various measures of financial deregulation. Insofar as Lawson acknowledges policy errors, he attributes them to a failure to raise interest rates during 1986 and considers that had Margaret Thatcher not vetoed the UK joining the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in November 1985 it might have been possible to adjust to these beneficial changes in the arena of microeconomics with less macroeconomic turbulence. Lawson also ascribes the difficulty of conducting monetary policy to Goodhart's Law.

Lawson opposed the introduction of the Community Charge (the poll tax) as a replacement for the previous rating system for the local financing element of local government revenue. His dissent was confined to deliberations within the Cabinet, where he found few allies and where he was overruled by the Prime Minister and by the ministerial team of the responsible department (Department of the Environment).

The issue of exchange-rate mechanism membership continued to fester between Lawson and Thatcher and was exacerbated by the re-employment by Thatcher of Alan Walters as personal economic adviser. Lawson's conduct of policy had become a struggle to maintain credibility once the August 1988 trade deficit revealed the strength of the expansion of domestic demand. As orthodox monetarists, Lawson and Thatcher agreed to a steady rise in interest rates to restrain demand, but this had the effect of inflating the headline inflation figure.


After a further year in office in these circumstances Lawson felt that public articulation of differences between an exchange-rate monetarist, as he had become, and the views of Walters (who continued to favour a floating exchange rate) were making his job impossible and he resigned.[8] He was succeeded in the office of Chancellor by John Major.


After retiring from front-bench politics, Lawson decided, on his doctor's advice, to tackle his weight problem. He is 5 foot 10 inches (178 cm) tall. He lost five stone (70 pounds, 30 kg) from 238 pounds (108 kg) to 168 pounds (76 kilograms) - (BMI 34 to 24) in a matter of a few months, dramatically changing his appearance, and went on to publish the best-selling "The Nigel Lawson Diet Book". On 1 July 1992 he was created a life peer as Baron Lawson of Blaby, of Newnham in the County of Northamptonshire.

In 1996, Lawson appeared on the BBC topical quiz show Have I Got News For You and, as a former Chancellor (regarded as one of the "big four" Government positions) became something of a coup as the guest who had previously held the highest political office. He was, however, happy to go on the show and take a mild amount of ribbing from the regulars as he was plugging his diet book at the time.

He serves on the advisory board of the conservative magazine Standpoint.

Lawson has been married twice:

  • Vanessa Salmon (lived: 1936-1985), whose family founded the Lyons Corner House chain, (married to Lawson: 1955–1980); (one son Dominic and three daughters Thomasina, Nigella and Horatia);
  • Thérèse Maclear (married to Lawson: 1980 – to present); (one son Tom and one daughter Emily).

Corporate roles

  • 2007: Chairman of Central European Trust (CET)[9]
  • 2007: Chairman of Oxford Investment Partners[10]

Global warming debate

In 2004, along with six others, Lawson wrote a letter to The Times criticising the Kyoto Protocol and claiming that there were substantial scientific uncertainties surrounding climate change.[11] In 2005, the House of Lords Economics Affairs Select Committee, with Lawson as a member, undertook an inquiry into climate change. In their report, the Committee recommend the HM Treasury take a more active role in climate policy. The objectivity of the IPCC process is questioned, and changes are suggested in the UK's contribution to future international climate change negotiations.[12] The report cites a mismatch between the economic costs and benefits of climate policy, and also criticises the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets set in the Kyoto Protocol. In response to the report, Michael Grubb, Chief Economist of the Carbon Trust, wrote an article in Prospect magazine, defending the Kyoto Protocol and describing the committee's report as being "strikingly inconsistent".[13] Lawson responded to Grubb's article, describing it as an example of the "intellectual bankruptcy of the [...] climate change establishment". Lawson also said that Kyoto's approach was "wrong-headed" and called on the IPCC to be "shut down".[14]

At about the same time of the release of the House of Lords report, the British government launched the Stern Review, an inquiry undertaken by the HM Treasury and headed by Sir Nicholas Stern. According to the Stern Review, published in 2006, the potential costs of climate change far exceed the costs of a programme to stabilise the climate. Lawson's lecture to the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank, published 1 November 2006 [15] criticises the Stern Review and proposed what is described as a rational approach, advocating adaptation to changes in global climate, rather than attempting mitigation, i.e., reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Lawson also contributed to the 2007 documentary film The Great Global Warming Swindle.

In 2008, Lawson published a book expanding on his 2006 lecture to the Centre for Policy Studies, An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming.[16] He argues the case that, although global warming is happening and will have negative consequences, the impact of these changes will be relatively moderate rather than apocalyptic. He criticises those "alarmist" politicians and scientists who predict catastrophe unless urgent action is taken. The book has, in its turn, been criticised by several climatologists.[17][18]

In July 2008 controversy was again incited when the conservative magazine Standpoint published a transcript of a double interview with Lawson and Tory Policy Chief Oliver Letwin, in which Lawson described Letwin's views on global warming as "pie in the sky" and called on him and the Tory frontbench to "get real".[19]

Lord Lawson is chairman of The Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Lawson's son Dominic Lawson is also a climate change sceptic, taking a similar viewpoint as his father in his columns in the Independent on Sunday.[20][21]

In the media

Lawson was interviewed about the rise of Thatcherism for the 2006 BBC TV documentary series Tory! Tory! Tory!. Lawson has also appeared on the Business News Network in Canada to discuss global warming.


  • An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming
  • 'Thatcherism in Practice: A Progress Report
  • The Retreat of the State
  • The View from No.11: Memoirs of a Tory Radical
  • The Nigel Lawson Diet Book
  • The Power Game: An Examination of Decision Making in Government
  • Conservatism Today: Four Personal Points of View By Robert Blake, Peregrine Worsthorne, David Howell and Nigel Lawson
  • State of the Market (Occasional Papers S.)


  1. ^ Frankel, Jonathan (1994). Reshaping the past: Jewish history and the historians. Oxford University Press US. p. 109. ISBN 0195103319.  
  2. ^ Nations Memory Bank (originally from The Daily Telegraph)
  3. ^ Nigel Lawson, The View From No. 11. Memoirs of a Tory Radical (Bantam, 1992), p. 4.
  4. ^ "Nigel Lawson".  
  5. ^ "Nigel Lawson".  
  6. ^ "Media families; 1. The Lawsons".  
  7. ^ "Budgeting in good times and bad".  
  8. ^ Travis, Alan. "Lawson sparks reshuffle". Guardian. Retrieved 2009-10-18.  
  9. ^ "CET's Practice Leaders". CET. Retrieved 2008-10-03.  
  10. ^ "The Board". Oxford Investment Partners. Retrieved 2008-10-03.  
  11. ^ Ebell, M. (October 8, 2004). "“Forced” Russian Decision Puts Kyoto Protocol on Verge of Ratification". Cooler Heads, Vol VIII, No 20. Retrieved August 26, 2008.  
  12. ^ House of Lords, Select Committee on Economic Affairs (2005). "The Economics of Climate Change". Retrieved 2007-03-14.  
  13. ^ Michael Grubb (1 September 2005). "Stick to the Target" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-01-24.  
  14. ^ Nigel Lawson (1 November 2005). "Against Kyoto". Retrieved 2007-11-20.  
  15. ^ "Lecture on the Economics and Politics of Climate Change - An Appeal to Reason". Centre for Policy Studies. November 1, 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-14.  
  16. ^ Lawson, Nigel (6 April 2008). "Lord Lawson claims climate change hysteria heralds a 'new age of unreason'". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-04-19.  
  17. ^ Clover, Charles (15 April 2008). "IPCC: Lawson wrong about climate change". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-04-19.  
  18. ^ Houghton, J. (June 19, 2008). "Full of hot air". Nature Reports Climate Change. doi:10.1038/climate.2008.60. Retrieved 2009-08-08.  
  19. ^ "Home page | Standpoint". Retrieved 2009-10-18.  
  20. ^ Lawson, Dominic (22 September 2006). "Dominic Lawson: The debate on climate change is far too important to be shut down by the scientists". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 2008-04-20.  
  21. ^ Lawson, Dominic (23 November 2007). "Dominic Lawson: Fight climate change? Or stay competitive? I'm afraid these two aims are incompatible". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 2008-04-20.  

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Iain MacLeod
Editor of The Spectator
Succeeded by
George Gale
Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Blaby
Feb 19741992
Succeeded by
Andrew Robathan
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Sheldon
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Nicholas Ridley
Preceded by
David Howell
Secretary of State for Energy
Succeeded by
Peter Walker
Preceded by
Sir Geoffrey Howe
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
John Major


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby PC (born March 11, 1932) is a British politician. Originally a financial journalist, he was editor of The Spectator from 1966 to 1970. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer between June 1983 and October 1989 during the government of Margaret Thatcher and oversaw a sizable reduction in taxes as well as the privatization of many state-owned companies. He fell out with Mrs Thatcher over the issue of European monetary co-operation and resigned suddenly over her having supplanted him with one of her own advisers.


  • The successful sale of British Telecom...reveals a vast and untapped yearning among ordinary people for a direct stake in the ownership of British enterprise. Investment in shares has begun to take its place, with ownership of a home and either a bank or building society deposit, as a way for ordinary people to participate in enterprise and wealth creation. We are seeing the birth of people's capitalism.
    • On the privatisation of BT (November 1984).
  • Those who, in the nineteenth century, argued the dangers of a mass democracy in which a majority of the voters would have no stake in the country at all, had reason to be fearful. But the remedy is not to restrict the franchise to those who own property: it is to extend the ownership of property to the largest possible majority of those who have the vote. The widespread ownership of private property gives is crucial to the survival of freedom and democracy. It gives the citizen a vital sense of identification with the society of which he is a part. It gives him a stake in the future—and indeed, equally important, in the present. It creates a society with an inbuilt resistance to revolutionary change.
    • Maurice Macmillan Memorial Lecture (June 1985).
  • The acid test of monetary policy is its record in reducing inflation. Those who wish to join the debate about the intricacies of different measures of money and the implications they may have for the future are welcome to do so. But at the end of the day the position is clear and unambiguous. The inflation rate is judge and jury.
    • Mansion House Speech (17 October, 1985).
  • Nothing could be further from the truth than the claim that we have a choice between cutting tax and cutting unemployment, for the two go hand in hand.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (Hansard, 18 March, 1986, Col. 182).
  • During the 1960s, and again in the 1970s, growth in manufacturing productivity in the United Kingdom was the lowest of all the seven major industrial countries in the world. During the 1980s, our annual rate of growth of output per head in manufacturing has been the highest of all the seven major industrial countries.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (Hansard, 17 March, 1987, Col. 816).
  • We had to dispel the notion that the way to economic success lies through a sort of fiscal levitation. That was the abiding post-war delusion—that governments could spend and borrow their way to prosperity, and fine-tune the performance of the economy through something known pretentiously as demand management...It used to be an establishment nostrum that you need a budget deficit to get economic growth. That was the belief which lay behind the notorious letter by 364 economists in March 1981. We have given the lie to that, decisively. There can no longer be any argument about it. Everyone—or almost everyone—now accepts that the proper role of macro-economic policy is to keep downward pressure on inflation and to maintain a stable framework in which the private sector can expand.
    • Nigel Lawson, Tax Reform: The Government's Record (Conservative Political Centre, June 1988).
  • Our achievement...has been to show that you can build far greater, and far more lasting, prosperity by letting people co-operate in the freedom of the market place than by making them submit to the coercion of Government regulations and state bureaucracy. If you look around the world today, East and West, even in Soviet Russia and Communist China, you will see that lesson being taken to heart...The truth is that a prosperous world based on free and open markets is a world of co-operation and interdependence between the people of all nations. By contrast, a world of closed, State controlled economies is a world disposed towards confrontation and conflict.
    • Speech to the Conservative Party Conference (13 October, 1988).
  • The fears of recession in the aftermath of Black Monday have turned to fears of the economy racing ahead too fast, with inflation edging up and a substantial current account deficit...people understandably feel more confident about their future than they've done for decades, but as a result they have been borrowing more and saving less...coming on top of a massive income investment boom, it's all been just a bit too much of a good thing.
    • Speech to the Conservative Party Conference (13 October, 1988).
  • Economic and monetary incompatible with independent sovereign states with control over their own fiscal and monetary policies. It would be have irrevocably fixed exchange rates while individual countries retained independent monetary policies...such a system could never have the credibility necessary to persuade the market that there was no risk of realignment. Thus EMU inevitably implies a single European currency, with monetary decisions...taken not by national Governments and/or central banks, but by a European Central Bank. Nor would individual countries be able to retain responsibility for fiscal policy. With a single European monetary policy there would need to be central control over the size of budget deficits and, particularly, over their financing. New European institutions would be required, to determine overall Community fiscal policy and agree the distribution of deficits between individual Member States...It is clear that Economic and Monetary Union implies nothing less than European Government...and political union: the United States of Europe. That is simply not on the agenda now, nor will it be for the forseeable future.
    • Speech to the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House (25 January, 1989).

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