Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Lord Carrington RIP

Peter Alexander Rupert Carington, 6th Baron Carrington, died yesterday at the age of 99. He was the last surviving minister to have serve in one of Churchill's cabinets. Inheriting his title at the age of 19 he spent World War II serving with the Grenedier Guards, and in 1945 was awarded the Military Cross while holding the rank of Major.

After the war he took up his seat in the lords and was soon made one of the youngest members of the front bench. His long and distinguished ministerial career was terminated at the outset of the Falklands war, when he became one of the last senior politicians to resign before being pushed to take responsibility for a catastrophic failure in his department. (Though the Franks committee later found that he was not personally at fault.)

He later served as secretary-general of NATO.

He was a gentleman of the old school, a person of great integrity who was in politics out of a sense of public service, and was regarded even by his political opponents as one of the most honourable people in politics, (Here is what the Guardian wrote about him.)

Lord Carrington  had the most extraordinary charm and was very funny, a brilliant anecdotalist with a keen eye for the absurd.

According to the Guardian "Carrington could make wholly inappropriate jokes" and was fortunate to have been a minister at a time before social media and when journalists were more defential and confidences more often respected and hence he could get away with this without his remarks being reported and causing an international incident. Apparently he once passed Margaret Thatcher a note about a foreign dignitary to whom she was offering the benefit of her views which read: “The poor chap’s come 600 miles. Do let him say something.”

Prime Minister Theresa May said:

"The death of Peter Carrington at the age of 99 marks the end of an era and the loss of a statesman who was respected globally for his remarkable lifetime of public service. 

"There can be few people who have served our country for as long, and with such dedication, as Lord Carrington did - from his gallantry as a tank commander in the Second World War, for which he was awarded the Military Cross, to his service in Government under two monarchs and six prime ministers, dating back to Winston Churchill. 

"He was a much loved and widely respected member of the House of Lords for nearly eight decades, and served with great honour and integrity in Government as foreign secretary, defence secretary, leader of the House of Lords, chairman of the Conservative Party and much more besides. 

"These were qualities that he also brought to bear as a highly esteemed Secretary General of NATO - and, in the week of the NATO summit, I know that my fellow leaders will join me in offering our gratitude for his lifetime of service and our deepest condolences to his family."

Rest in Peace.

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