Happy birthday to a great Chancellor

Nigel Lawson was born on March 11th, 1932. During his time in government he came to be regarded as one of the best Chancellors of the Exchequer that the UK has seen. He held the role longer than any since David Lloyd George. Before Parliament he had been a widely respected financial journalist, first with the Financial Times and then as City Editor of the Sunday Telegraph.

Even in opposition he was effective, working tactically with two Labour rebels to secure the Rooker-Wise budgetary amendment that automatically indexed tax thresholds in line with inflation. When he was appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury in 1979, he worked with Geoffrey Howe to abolish exchange controls in October of that year.

When he was promoted to Secretary of State for Energy, he started work on the privatization of gas and electricity, and when he became Chancellor in 1984, he worked with the DTI to set in motion the privatization of British Airways, British Telecom, and British Gas.

He reduced Corporation tax rates and allowances, and shifted more of the tax burden from direct taxes such as Income Tax and National Insurance to indirect taxes such as VAT. This helped bring down unemployment. He turned a budget deficit of £10.5bn in 1983 into a surplus of £3.9bn in 1989.

His finest hour was his 1988 budget, which brought the basic rate on Income Tax down to 25% and the top rate to 40%. It resulted in more revenue as the economy boomed, with the top 10% of earners paying a much higher share of the total.

His proud record as Chancellor was that in every one of his budgets he reduced taxation and abolished at least one tax. The economy boomed and Britons prospered.

In retirement, he decided to control his weight, and went from 17 stone (108 kg) to 12 stone (76 kilograms) in months, completely changing the way he looked. His “Nigel Lawson Diet Book” was a best seller. He has appeared on his daughter Nigella's cookery programmes.

On July 1st, 1992, he was given a life peerage as Baron Lawson of Blaby. He went on to found and lead the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and took an active role for the Leave side in the Brexit referendum.

He has enjoyed a remarkable and successful career, one full of achievements, and we wish him a very happy birthday today.