Leeds MPs

JOSEPH, Sir Keith Sinjohn (1918–1994) Conservative. Lawyer.

During World War II he enlisted and became a captain in the Royal Artillery. In the Italian campaign he was wounded and he was mentioned in despatches. He joined the Young Conservatives in 1948, and when Osbert Peake was ennobled in January 1956, Joseph was invited to stand for the safe Conservative seat of Leeds North East. He comfortably won the by-election and then proceeded to hold it in every election until his retirement before the 1987 contest. Following Macmillan’s ‘Night of the Long Knives’, he was appointed Minister for Housing and Local Government, followed by several Cabinet appointments. In 1981 he became Secretary of State for Education and Science, going on to be one of the longest serving and influential secretaries ever. He was a keen supporter of Milton Friedman’s monetarist philosophy, and his political mantra was that, ‘We are over-governed, over-spent, over-taxed, over-borrowed and over-manned’. His opponents referred to him as the ‘Mad Monk’. He had considerable influence over Prime Minster, Margaret Thatcher, and the development of Thatcherism. He was ennobled Baron Joseph of Portsoken in the City of London in 1987. The Guardian, 12 December 1994; The Independent, 12 December 1994.