Margaret Thatcher and Cecil Parkinson at Downing Street in 1983 [Image: Herbie Knott/Rex Features].

This Writer was still a child when the Sara Keays affair broke. It was my first experience of political sleaze.

Even as a pre-teen, I noticed Thatcher’s indifference about the way her lieutenant had behaved. It seemed she was happy for her ministers to make free with the staff, and completely unconcerned about the consequences.

I found that immoral at the time, and still do today.

More immoral still was the way Parkinson treated the child that was born as a consequence of his affair. Flora Keays, who was born with learning difficulties and Asperger’s Syndrome, and had to have a brain tumour operation aged four, has – to the best of my knowledge, never met her father. While he helped financially, with her education and upkeep, he never had anything else to do with her – a fact that was clearly upsetting for his daughter.

It is an appalling way to behave. In consequence, This Writer has nothing good to say about Parkinson on the occasion of his death.

Cecil Parkinson, the former Conservative cabinet minister and ally of Margaret Thatcher, has died of cancer, aged 84.

Lord Parkinson was first elected to parliament as MP for Enfield West in 1970 and would go on to be regarded as one of the Thatcher’s closest confidants and one of her few real friends in the top ranks of politics.

His career, however, was overshadowed by his resignation as trade secretary in 1983 after revelations that his former secretary Sara Keays was pregnant with his child.

The affair put an end to Thatcher’s plan to promote Parkinson to foreign secretary – and to effectively anoint him as her successor – in the immediate aftermath of her 1983 election landslide, according to her personal papers.

Source: Former Tory minister Cecil Parkinson dies aged 84 | Politics | The Guardian

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