Patrick Cormack

The Right Honourable
The Lord Cormack
Member of Parliament
for South Staffordshire
South West Staffordshire (1974–1983)
In office
1 March 1974  12 April 2010
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by Gavin Williamson
Member of Parliament
for Cannock
In office
18 June 1970  28 February 1974
Preceded by Jennie Lee
Succeeded by Gwilym Roberts
Personal details
Born (1939-05-18) 18 May 1939
Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Kathleen Mary MacDonald
Alma mater University of Hull

Patrick Thomas Cormack, Baron Cormack, DL, FSA (born 18 May 1939) is a British politician, historian, journalist and author. He represented the Conservative Party as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1970 to 2010.

Early life

Cormack was born in Grimsby just before the outbreak of World War II. He was educated locally at the St James's Choir School and the Havelock School, before attending the University of Hull where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1961. He was a teacher at his former school, St James's Choir School, in 1961, before becoming a training and education officer with Ross Ltd in 1966. In 1967 he was appointed an assistant house master at the Wrekin College in Wellington, Shropshire for two years, after which he became the head of history at the Brewood Grammar School in 1969.

Political career

Earlier candidatures

Cormack contested the safe Labour parliamentary seat of Bolsover at the 1964 general election, where he lost to the sitting MP Harold Neal, who won with a majority of 23,103 votes. At the 1966 general election, Cormack contested his hometown seat of Grimsby, but again was defeated, this time by the Secretary of State for Education and Science, Anthony Crosland, who had a majority of 8,126.

At the 1970 general election, Cormack stood for the seat of Cannock, and this time was elected, narrowly defeating the incumbent Labour MP Jennie Lee (the wife of the founder of the National Health Service, Aneurin Bevan). Cormack won with a majority of 1,529.

Prior to 1970, Cormack was a member of the Bow Group and the Conservative Monday Club, resigning from both at the end of 1971.[1]

Parliamentary career

From 1970–73, Cormack served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Department of Health and Social Security. He moved constituencies at the February 1974 general election, leaving the marginal seat of Cannock and instead contesting the newly drawn seat of South West Staffordshire, which he won comfortably with a majority of 9,758. Cormack was a member of the Education Select Committee for the duration of the 1979 Parliament.[2]

On 7 October 1981, with national unemployment approaching 3,000,000 (compared to 1,500,000 two years previously), Cormack urged Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to change her economic policies, namely monetarism to tackle inflation, if Britain was to avoid economic disaster.[3]

In 1983, his constituency changed its name to its present one, Staffordshire South, and after the 1983 general election, he became a member of the chairman's Panel. Cormack was made a Knight Bachelor in the Queen's New Year's Honours List, 1995, for his service to parliament.[4] In 1997, after 27 years as an MP on the backbenches, he was finally promoted by the then Leader of the Opposition, William Hague, to become the opposition's Deputy Leader of the House of Commons.

He resigned from this position in 2000 in order to stand for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons (following the retirement of Betty Boothroyd). However, he was unsuccessful in his bid for the Speakership, with the House instead choosing Labour MP Michael Martin for the role. During the 2005–10 parliament, Cormack was the chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee.

The vote in Staffordshire South was postponed at the 2005 general election due to the death of the Liberal Democrat candidate Jo Harrison. When the election did take place on 23 June 2005, Cormack won comfortably. In February 2007, it was announced that Cormack had failed to win the readoption of his constituency party for the next general election. This vote was later declared invalid as the number of votes recorded exceeded the number of people present at the meeting.[5][6] In July 2007, the South Staffordshire Conservatives' executive council voted on the matter, but it resulted in a tie. Consequently, a vote of all local party members was held to decide whether Cormack should remain the party's candidate at the next general election.[7] In the vote, held on 14 September, Cormack was readopted as the Conservative candidate, receiving the backing of over 75% of participating party members. Cormack expressed his gratitude and called the victory a "great relief".[8] Subsequently, on 1 December 2009, Cormack announced his intention to stand down at the 2010 general election.[9]

Cormack was created a life peer on 18 December 2010, as Baron Cormack.[10] He sits on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords. Cormack bitterly opposed the Coalition's plans to reform the House of Lords, speaking out against them numerous times in the chamber.

Cormack is seen as a One Nation Tory. He was a Heathite, and was a frequent rebel under Margaret Thatcher.[11]

Interest in history

Cormack takes an active interest in historical issues, particularly those related to English Heritage. He is also a very knowledgeable parliamentary historian.

Cormack has written many books on subjects ranging from the history of parliament, British castles, English cathedrals, and a book on William Wilberforce.

Cormack has been a trustee of the Churches Preservation Trust since 1972, and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He has been a council member of British Archaeology since 1979, and is also a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass for the same length of time. From 1983–93, he was Trustee on the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. He is a consultant and adviser to FIRST, an international affairs organisation since 1985. He is a Vice-President of the Royal Stuart Society and Patron of the Heritage Crafts Association.

A committed Christian, Cormack was a rector's warden at Parliament's parish church, St Margaret's, Westminster, from 1978-90. Cormack became a Freeman of the City of London in 1980 and was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Staffordshire in 2011.[12]

Personal life

Cormack married Kathleen Mary MacDonald in 1967. They have two sons.

Styles of address

  • 19391970: Mr Patrick Cormack
  • 19701995: Mr Patrick Cormack MP
  • 19952010: Sir Patrick Cormack MP
  • 2010: Sir Patrick Cormack
  • 20102011: The Rt Hon. The Lord Cormack Kt
  • 2011: The Rt Hon. The Lord Cormack Kt DL


  1. Copping, Robert, The Story of The Monday Club – The First Decade, Current Affairs Information Unit, London, April 1972: 21 & 28
  2. "Your representative: Patrick Cormack". Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  3. "Those were the days".
  4. The London Gazette, 30 December 1994, accessed 25 June 2013.
  5. "MP Cormack fails to get readopted". BBC News. 13 February 2007. Retrieved 13 February 2007.
  6. "Cormack ousting vote is invalid". BBC News. 23 February 2007. Retrieved 13 February 2007.
  7. "Tories fail to decide on Cormack". BBC News. 13 July 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  8. "Cormack 'resoundingly readopted'". BBC News. 14 December 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  9. "Veteran Tory MP Sir Patrick Cormack to stand down". BBC News. 1 December 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  10. Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Lords,. "Lords Hansard text for 21 Dec 201021 Dec 2010 (pt 0001)".
  11. Waller, Robert; Criddle, Byron (2002-01-01). The Almanac of British Politics. Psychology Press. ISBN 9780415268332.
  12. "Deputy Lieutenant Commissions". London Gazette. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jennie Lee
Member of Parliament for Cannock
1970 – February 1974
Succeeded by
Gwilym Roberts
New constituency Member of Parliament for South West Staffordshire
February 1974 – 1983
Constituency abolished
Member of Parliament for South Staffordshire
Succeeded by
Gavin Williamson
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