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Michael Howard

Howard, Michael, 1941–, British politician, leader of the Conservative party (2003–5), b. Llanelli, Wales, as Michael Hecht. The son of immigrants (his father changed the family name after becoming a British subject in 1947), he was educated at Cambridge and became a successful barrister. In 1983 he was elected to Parliament, and in 1985 became a junior minister under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In 1990 he became employment and environment minister, a post he continued to hold under Prime Minister John Major. Appointed home secretary in 1993, he was known for his tough anticrime stance. After Major resigned as party leader (1997), Howard sought unsuccessfully to succeed him. However, following Iain Duncan Smith's loss of the leadership post in 2003, Howard won the position unopposed, becoming the first Jew to lead a major British party (Disraeli had been baptized). Howard resigned as party leader following the Conservative loss in the 2005 elections; he was succeeded by David Cameron. He retired from the Commons in 2010 and was created Baron Howard of Lympne.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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