Where are they now?

23rd March 2001 at 00:00
The former education secretary added Baker Days to the lexicon and was morphed into a Spitting Image rubber slug

His claim to fame?

The Napoleon of the national curriculum; architect of the 1988 Education Reform Act that introduced grant-maintained schools, local management, abolished the Inner London Education Authority and turned teachers' days off into training sessions dubbed "Baker Days". He introduced city technology colleges, renamed polytechnics as universities and replaced GCEs with GCSEs.

Was that all?

No. As Home Secretary he rushed through the Dangerous Dogs Act; revealed that Margaret Thatcher was "hand-bagging" her Cabinet; and was depicted as a slug in Spitting Image.

Did he mind that?

Yes, despite his lifelong interest in collecting political cartoons - he's edited two books - he didn't bid for his "image" when the puppets were auctioned.

What does he do in the Lords?

Champions special schools. "Inclusion is all very well as long as education authorities have the resources, but I think it's gone too far." And is a "great believer in refunding our universities with top-up fees as no government will give higher educatin the amount it needs".

Is he still active on the literary front?

Absolutely. Busy reading novels in role as chairman of the Booker judges; just published the Faber Book of Landscape Poetry ("It was well-reviewed and is selling well") and is working on a cartoon history of the life of George IV.

Any other evidence of a sense of humour?

When an error was pointed out to him in one of his books he replied: "To err is human; to be reprinted is divine."

Any business interests?

He's director of several companies in the telecommunications and mobile phone world.

Does he have time for anything else?

Still hopes to establish a Museum of British History and is a trustee of the Museum of Empire and the Commonwealth in Bristol. "I think I'm busier now than when I was a minister; but certainly less tense," he said.

CV

1934: born

Educated St Paul's School, London

1953-55: National Service

1955-58: Oxford (Secretary of Union)

1968: became Tory MP for Acton

1985-1992: series of Cabinet posts including Environment Secretary, Education Secretary and Home Secretary

1997: Created Baron Baker of Dorking


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