Former MP dies at 60

FORMER pupils of Huntingdon Grammar School in the early 1960s may remember a young firebrand pupil who went on to become a Tory MP and a junior Minister in Margaret Thatcher s Government. John Butcher, probably the school s only Parliamentary product of t

FORMER pupils of Huntingdon Grammar School in the early 1960s may remember a young firebrand pupil who went on to become a Tory MP and a junior Minister in Margaret Thatcher's Government.

John Butcher, probably the school's only Parliamentary product of the 20th century, former headmaster Peter Downes believes, died on Christmas Day, aged 60.

His family moved from his Doncaster birthplace to Huntingdon when he was a boy, and he went on from Hinchingbrooke to read politics and economics at Birmingham University, where he was secretary of the Conservative Association at the age of 20.

He won Coventry South West for the Tories in 1979 at the age of 33, and was a Parliamentary Private Secretary - the first rung of the ladder that leads to Ministerial office - at 35.

He served as a junior Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry and later as schools minister.

He did not seek re-election in 1997, when it was clear the Conservatives would lose office.

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An evangelist for the embrace of computer technology and a staunch defender of the West Midlands' manufacturing tradition, John Butcher was also a successful businessman in his own right. He was chairman of the Institute of Directors at the turn of the century.

He leaves a widow, Anne, and three children.

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