Born In: Swansea, Wales, UK
Michael Heseltine is a British businessman and politician, best known for serving as a British member of parliament (MP) for close to 4 decades, from 1966 to 2001. He belonged to an upper-middle-class family. Following his high-school graduation, he joined the Pembroke College of the University of Oxford, from where he graduated in philosophy, politics, and economics. Despite his growing interest in politics, he chose to enter the world of business following his college graduation. He started working in the real-estate business, making the best out of the Great London property boom of the late 1950s. He entered active politics in the mid-1960s and was elected as an MP from Tavistock for two terms consecutively. In 1974, he contested from Henley and stayed as the MP from the constituency until 2001. Meanwhile, he also served in many cabinet positions, such as the secretary of state for the environment and the secretary of state for defense, especially under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He was known as a charismatic figure in the party but was unable to secure the leadership of the Conservative Party in the 1990s. He ended up becoming the deputy prime minister and the first secretary of state in the mid-1990s.
Also Known As: Michael Ray Dibdin Heseltine
Spouse/Ex-: Ann Heseltine
father: Rupert Heseltine
mother: Eileen Ray Heseltine (née Pridmore)
children: Alexandra Heseltine, Alexandra Victoria Dibdin Heseltine, Annabel Heseltine, Rupert Heseltine, Rupert William Dibdin Heseltine
Born Country: England
education: The University of Oxford, Pembroke College Oxford
Michael Heseltine was born Michael Ray Dibdin Heseltine, on March 21, 1933, in Swansea, Wales, the United Kingdom, to Rupert and Eileen Heseltine. His father owned a factory in Wales, while his mother was a homemaker. Michael happens to be a direct descendant of popular British composer Charles Dibdin. His father also happened to be a colonel in the Territorial Army.
Michael’s ancestors had been involved in farming. Over time, he became rich, which enabled Michael to be raised in a financially secure environment. Upon growing up, Michael attended the Shrewsbury School, which was a boarding school. Following his high-school graduation, he joined the Pembroke College, of the University of Oxford, and studied philosophy, economics, and politics.
By the time he was in his late teenage years, he had developed an interest in politics. He also gained an impeccable business sense in college, which led him to become the president of the student union in 1954.
Michael Heseltine laid the foundation of the Blue Ribbon Club, which happened to be an anti-establishment Tory society. He did that to vent out his frustration after he was refused a seat in the Oxford University Conservative Association.
When he was in prep school, he was also a member of a bird-watching club called the Tit Club. The members of the club were named after members of the Tit family of birds. He later joked that he tried hard to not let his club membership come out in the open, as that would have spelled the end of his political career.
He loved angling, a method of fishing, and won a junior angling competition, too. He had begun his political activities before even joining college. He had served as a volunteer in the 1951 general elections.
Although he was interested in joining politics, following his college graduation, Michael Heseltine decided to continue with his family tradition of becoming a businessman. In 1955, fresh out of college, he began working as an accountant at a company called Peat Marwick & Mitchell.
He saved some money there and took advantage of the London property boom of the late 1950s. He and his friend Ian Joseph collaborated to open a property company called Michian, named after the combination of their first names. They initially bought a small property and rented it out. They later sold it at a huge margin.
They bought more properties in Westminster and lent them out as boarding houses for medical students. Michael further grew his business by entering into collaborations with other friends from Oxford and bought more properties, also using investments from his parents.
By the late 1950s, he also had to complete his mandatory national service, which he tried to avoid but could not. He thought that his business might suffer. His father used his contacts to get him the job of an officer in the military. He narrowly avoided being a participant in the Korean War, but he was eventually stationed as a “Welsh Guard.”
In 1959, he was sent to a cadet school and emerged as a good cadet. Even though he had sprained his ankle quite badly, when he tried to get a medical discharge, his request was denied. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in June 1959.
After his service ended, he returned to his business endeavors. By then, the London property boom was in full swing. He bought more properties and amassed a great fortune.
Michael Heseltine laid the foundation of a publishing company called Cornmarket and also entered the advertising sector. By the early 1960s, he had become hugely invested in joining politics and started building his image as an aspiring politician.
However, he also came quite close to bankruptcy in 1961, after the Selwyn Lloyd financial crisis. He somehow paid back all his creditors and took up gardening as a hobby to cope with the stress.
Around this time, he also laid the foundation of a media company named Haymarket. The company grew fast, and when he returned to business in the late 1990s, after being in politics for decades, the company was already registering 10 million pounds in revenue. Over the years, the company entered many new markets, such as India, and has made Michael extremely rich.
Michael Heseltine’s interest in politics had developed back when he was in college, but his colleagues and biographers state that he was not a great orator initially. Nevertheless, he polished his skills, practicing in front of the mirror for hours. In 1954, he was elected as the president of the Oxford Union. He then became the chairman of the Oxford University Labour Club. His allegiance lay with the Conservative Party right from the beginning of his political endeavors.
He decided to participate in the 1966 general elections for a place in the parliament from Tavistock and won the seat. He retained the seat for two consecutive times and was re-elected again in 1970. However, he often had disagreements with the conservative views, on issues such as race and agricultural policies, despite the fact that he held a strong position within the party.
Meanwhile, he had made quite a reputation for himself as an orator. He became the opposition spokesman on transport. In 1970, following the Conservative Party’s victory in the general elections, he was made a junior minister in the transport ministry. Transport had been taken away from the cabinet position and had been merged with the department of environment, which included many small ministries.
In 1972, he was handed over the ministry of aerospace again (which was not a cabinet position). In 1974, he contested in the general elections yet again, this time from Henley, and he won it. He became a popular MP and retained the position for decades to come and eventually stepped down in 2001.
In 1979, he officially entered the cabinet as the secretary of state for environment. He became known for his “right to buy” campaign, which enabled millions of families to buy their council houses.
He was a popular minister and was known for his style and sass. Over time, his discontentment with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher became quite evident. In the mid-1980s, he was made the secretary of defense. He stepped down from his cabinet position in 1986 and challenged Thatcher for the leadership of the Conservative Party, but failed.
From 1995, he served as the first secretary of state and the deputy prime minister to Prime Minister John Major, to whom he had lost the Conservative Party leadership, after Thatcher resigned in the early 1990s.
In 1997, journalist Michael Crick released a biographical book on him, titled Michael Heseltine: A Biography. In 2000, Michael wrote a book titled Life in the Jungle.
In the 2019 general elections, he lent his support to the liberal democrats and thrashed the Conservative Party candidate, Boris Johnson.
Michael Heseltine has been married to Anne Harding Williams since 1962. They have three children and nine grandchildren.
An event from his past resurfaced in 2016, and it was claimed that Michael had killed his mother’s pet dog. It was said that Michael had admitted to having strangled the dog in 1964. He cleared the air later saying that he had meant that he had apprehended the dog by grabbing it by the collar, as it had become dangerous. At the vet’s insistence, the dog was put down later.
How To Cite
People Also Viewed