In the 1997 General election seven Tory Cabinet Ministers lost their seats. They were: Malcolm Rifkind (Foreign Secretary); Michael Portillo (Defence Secretary); Ian Lang (Trade & Industry Secretary); Michael Forsyth (Scottish Secretary); Roger Freeman (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster); William Waldegrave (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Tony Newton (Lord President of the Council).
What happened to that august band thereafter?
Malcolm Rifkind got a Knighthood form John Major’s resignation honours list and re-contested his Edinburgh Pentlands seat in 2001. He was again sent packing by the people of Edinburgh. In 2005 he stood and was elected in what must be the safest Tory seat in the land, that of Kensington and Chelsea. Having only been back for 5 minutes he put himself forward to succeed Michael Howard as leader of the Tories and lost. During the controversy over expenses in 2009, Rifkind was reported as having claimed £3,066 in travel reimbursement for flights to his home in Scotland despite representing Kensington and Chelsea in London, Rifkind stated it was a taxable benefit on which he paid full tax.
Michael Portillo was returned to parliament in 1999 in the constituency of Kensington & Chelsea after the death of their sitting MP Alan Clark. He stood down in 2005 making way for Rifkind....see above.
Ian Lang was made a life peer as Baron Lang of Monkton of Merrick and the Rhinns of Kells in Dumfries and Galloway in September 1997 by John Major in his resignation Honours.
Michael Forsyth received a knighthood in 1997from John Major and in 1999 was elevated to the House of Lords given a life peerage as Baron Forsyth of Drumlean, in Stirling, presumably by Tony Blair.
Roger Freeman was made a life peer by John Major and sits as Baron Freeman, of Dingley in the County of Northamptonshire.
William Waldergrave entered the House of Lords as Baron Waldegrave of North Hill, of Chewton Mendip in the County of Somerset, in 1999. Presumably he was given a peerage because he was the second son of the 12th Earl of Waldergrave.
Tony Newton was created a life peer as Baron Newton of Braintree, of Coggeshall in the County of Essex again thanks to John Major, in 1997.
So there we have it each of these seven people were rejected by the people of the UK. Five of them, however, went on to get unelected positions in Parliament as members of the House of Lords. The other two were both elected to one of the safest Tory seats in the land, to such an extent that it is practically a sinecure. Rifkind and Portillo maintained aspirations of leadership. We know that Portillo was tipped as a possible leader of the Tories, had he not lost his seat in Enfield Southgate. That might explain why he was given Ken & Chelsea so soon. But give Portillo his due, he is the only one who did not accept any sort of Gong from the British Empire, although I imagine that one was offered. Rifkind, we know, failed to get the leadership in 2005.
As for the rest, how can it be right that a bunch of absolute no hopers, some of whom only held the most junior positions, and some only for a very short time, to a man ended up in the Lords?