Francis Pym, who has died at the age of 86, boasted a distinguished ancestry, including the civil war parliamentarian John Pym, who proved to be such a thorn in the side of King Charles I. Francis Pym himself was a thorn in the side of another English ruler who thought they were right about everything and that their political servants should basically just do their bidding - Margaret Thatcher. An old-fashioned 'one nation' conservative, Pym did little to disguise his distaste for Thatcherism. However, he was first and foremost a public servant and, having served as Defence Secretary in the past, he was brought in by Thatcher to replace Lord Carrington as Foreign Secretary at the time of the Falklands War. He did a perfectly decent job, but his continued dislike of Thatcher's politics, plus his comment on 'Question Time' that landslide majorities (such as the one Thatcher was heading for in 1983) did not necessarily lead to good government, eventually cost him his job. Having secured her landslide, Thatcher dropped Pym over the side himself. He was one of a succession of gentlemanly 'wets' who disliked Thatcher, but proved to be her inferior when it came to sheer political gutsiness. Not for nothing did she call them 'wets', but Pym's passing marks the gradual ending of a political era nonetheless - half the original Thatcher cabinet are now underground.
The Question Time comment, incidentally, can be seen at the beginning of the 'Question Time' special programme on their website here.