An unlikely Thatcher favourite

The 2nd Earl of Gowrie—known generally as Grey Gowrie—had little in common with Margaret Thatcher. A poet and intellectual, his political views were often at variance with hers. Nevertheless, she had a very high regard for him and went to unusual lengths to try and keep him in her Cabinet, as Alistair Lexden recalled in a letter published in The Spectator on 15 April. 

Sir: Grey Gowrie may be ‘the most undervalued poet of our time’ (Books, 8 April), but he was certainly not undervalued by Mrs Thatcher, even though they were poles apart on many issues. This close associate of Jim Prior spent a year in her cabinet as arts minister and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; in her memoirs she upgraded him to Leader of the Lords. He left her in September 1985, turning down the Department of Education which has been held  only once by a peer since the war (and then for no more than eight months). He was, she said, ‘the greatest loss’; she had beencaptivated by his ‘excellent mind’.

Alistair Lexden
House of Lords