(Michael) Eric Forth

1944 - 2006

Uncompromising Conservative politician. Born in Glasgow, Forth was the son of a harbourmaster. He was educated at Jordanhill College School and the University of Glasgow. In 1968 he entered local government, elected to Brentwood Urban District Council, on which he served until 1972. He stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for Barking in the two general elections of 1974. However, he was elected to the European Parliament representing Birmingham North (1979 - 84). Forth then became the Member of Parliament for Mid-Worcestershire (1983 - 97). Following boundary changes, he moved to represent the London constituency of Bromley and Chislehurst, where he served until his death. He became a Privy Councillor in 1996.

A staunch right-wing libertarian, Forth acted as consumer affairs minister under Margaret Thatcher and as a junior education minister under John Major, before being appointed Shadow Leader of the House of Commons when the Conservatives entered opposition in 1997. However, he was no enthusiast for later Conservative Leaders, and particularly worked to undermine the authority of Iain Duncan Smith (b.1954).

Forth was best-known as a diligent and persistent back-bencher who used his intimate knowledge of parliamentary procedure to derail what he regarded as bad legislation. He was an effective debater and an expert at the filibuster, a tactic he used regularly to talk-down private members' bills and other legislation which he felt lacked proper scrutiny. He was proud of being labelled 'politically incorrect', enjoyed tormenting Labour Ministers but was equally satisfied when his independent views brought him into conflict with members of his own party.

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