April 10, 2023 8.00 am This story is over 14 months old

At the heart of power: When Lincolnshire MPs helped run the country

The last Lincolnshire MPs at the top of government

By Local Democracy Reporter

It has been decades since an MP from Lincolnshire has held a top-level position in government.

While several serving members have played roles, none have been named to Cabinet or even the most senior positions of Chancellor and Prime Minister.

While some of Greater Lincolnshire’s eleven current Members of Parliament hold roles, none find themselves in major front bench positions.

You would have to go back to the John Major administration of the 1990s for the last time an MP in Lincolnshire was named as a Cabinet Secretary.

Of the current MPs, Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Caroline Johnson is the former Vice Chair of the Conservative Party; Great Grimsby’s Lia Nici was then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Private Parliamentary Secretary; and Lincoln MP Karl McCartney had a brief stint as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport last year.

Great Grimsby MP Lia Nici with Boris Johnson. | Photo: Lia Nici

 

Sir John Hayes MP for South Holland and the Deepings.

A few Lincolnshire MPs have been included in Shadow Cabinets while their party served in opposition – including current South Holland and The Deepings member Sir John Hayes.

As well as being a speech writer for Iain Duncan Smith and being named his Assistant Chief Whip in 2001, John Hayes was also appointed as the Shadow Agriculture & Fisheries Secretary.

However, he was never appointed to a front bench role while the Conservatives were in power.

Here is a look at some of the last MPs in Lincolnshire to be given positions of high office in Parliament.


Margaret Beckett

Margaret Beckett has enjoyed a decorated career in British politics. | Photo: Parliament UK

Lincoln’s Labour MP between October 1974 and April 1979, Dame Margaret Beckett, held numerous key roles in the Labour Party – but not until after her stint in Lincolnshire.

Following the 1979 election defeat in Lincoln, Dame Beckett earned her way back into parliament in 1983, as member for Derby South.

The former Lincoln MP served as Leader of the House of Commons, Business Secretary and Environment Secretary in the late 90s and early 2000s.

She also made regular history during her political career. Dame Beckett became the first woman to hold the role of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in 1992, and she became the first woman to be overall Leader of Labour following John Smith’s death in 1994.

Her appointment as Foreign Secretary in 2006 made her the first woman to hold that position, and the second, after Margaret Thatcher, to hold one of the Great Offices of State.


Douglas Hogg

| Photo: Graham Smith

Due to Dame Margaret Beckett’s most prominent roles coming during her stint in Derbyshire, Douglas Hogg is in fact the last MP to hold a Cabinet spot while serving as a Lincolnshire Member of Parliament.

Douglas Hogg had the difficult task of following in the footsteps of long-serving Grantham MP Joseph Godber when he became part of Margaret Thatcher’s elected government in 1979.

He proved to be the last Grantham MP before the constituency was abolished in 1997, but he found himself back in parliament that year as the Sleaford and North Hykeham MP – a position currently occupied by Dr Caroline Johnson for the Conservatives.

Hogg, much like his predecessor, took on the Cabinet role of Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, when John Major placed him in the position in 1995.

He became the Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food after the Conservatives were defeated by Tony Blair’s Labour at the 1997 General Election, and would serve as the shadow minister for just one month before a reshuffle.


Joseph Godber

The aforementioned Joseph Godber was a Conservative MP for the Grantham constituency for 28 years, earning consistent re-elections from 1951 until he retired and was replaced as Tory member by Douglas Hogg in 1979.

His standout parliamentary role came in 1963, when the Grantham MP was named War Secretary. However, he only served in the role for a matter of months.

Joseph Godber was the penultimate MP to hold the War Secretary role before it was abolished by parliament.

He did also serve in the Cabinet role of Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food between November 1972 and March 1974.

Godber retired as Grantham MP in 1979, and sadly passed away a year ago.


Anthony Crosland

A Labour Party stalwart in Great Grimsby, Anthony Crosland served as the North East Lincolnshire town’s MP between 1959 and 1977 – picking up plenty of plaudits along the way.

His first of a number of front bench positions came under Harold Wilson, where he served as Education Secretary from January 1965 to August 1967.

This was followed by his appointment to Housing and Local Government Secretary in October 1969, a role he served for less than a year before the election defeat of 1970.

Upon Labour’s return to power in 1974, Crosland was named the new Environment Secretary. He held the position until April 1976, when he became the Foreign Secretary instead.

However, his career and life was subsequently cut short by a sudden cerebral haemorrhage in February 1977, and his Great Grimsby constituency was taken over by fellow Labour MP Austin Mitchell.


Margaret Thatcher

Former PM Margaret Thatcher. | Photo: Getty Images

While never served a Lincolnshire constituency, but it would be remiss not to mention the Grantham-born Iron Lady herself, Margaret Thatcher.

Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister in the history of the United Kingdom when her Conservative Party won the 1979 General Election, four years after Baroness Thatcher became the first female leader of a British political party.

She served as Prime Minister for 11 years before resigning and being replaced by John Major in 1990, completing a life of political work with life peerage to the House of Lords in 1992.

Baroness Thatcher’s life ended in 2013 after suffering a stroke at The Ritz hotel in London, and her legacy has been remembered in her birth town of Grantham with a statue, erected in 2022.


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