Nigel Lawson

The joy of jump-racing

When famous folk die you sometimes fish for memories of any encounter you may have had with them. The memorial service for Nigel Lawson spurred no memory-searching for me. I will never forget meeting him at around 4 a.m. on the pavement outside The Grand in Brighton on 12 October 1984, surrounded by blue police tape and with emergency service sirens blaring following the IRA’s attempt to blow up Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet at that year’s Conservative party conference. He was in pyjamas and a blue, braided dressing-gown; I was still in my suit having fortunately walked out of The Grand about half an hour before the bomb went off. I

How much does Britain still ‘love’ the NHS?

‘Of course I support the NHS. Everybody supports the NHS, or says they do,’ poked the comedian Frankie Boyle in one of the many campaigns promoting the health service. To admit you don’t believe in this national institution is as taboo as not caring about Britishness, about goodness, about people. The public is keen to find evidence for this collective belief. Nigel Lawson famously said that ‘the NHS is the closest thing the English have to a national religion’ – words which tend to be heard as praise. But his comment was laced with criticism. He continued, ‘with those who practise in it regarding themselves as a priesthood. This made

What I learned from Nigel Lawson

The memory of Nigel Lawson will always be a blessing. He was the embodiment of serious radicalism, a politician who changed Britain for the better – and for good. When I became chancellor, I hung a picture of Nigel behind my desk in No. 11. It was a large photograph of him holding up his red Budget box. It was an image which summed up the intellectual confidence that he brought to the job. But it was also a reminder of the sheer amount of preparation, hard work and attention to detail that he had put in to get the party and the government into a position where it could do