Thatcher-era cabinet minister Lord Young dies aged 90

Lord Young with Margaret Thatcher in 1987
Lord Young with Margaret Thatcher in 1987

Lord Young of Graffham, the businessman who served as right-hand man for Margaret Thatcher during the state privatisations in the 1980s, died yesterday.

The peer, 90, was a key figure in the Thatcher era who held a series of Cabinet posts in the 1980s, and famously never took a salary for his work.

A Conservative peer, he became secretary of state for employment in 1985, before being appointed secretary of state for trade and industry after the 1987 election.

Later he would serve as an enterprise adviser to Conservative prime minister David Cameron, continuing to retain a key interest in education and youth employment.

Last night a spokesman for the family told The Telegraph: “As a family we are devastated at the loss of a beloved and adored husband, father, grandfather and friend, affectionately know to us simply as Papa. Words cannot express how much he meant to us all.”

David Cameron and Lord Young in 10 Downing Street
David Cameron and Lord Young in 10 Downing Street

Lord Young was recognised on the public stage by his familiar bow ties. A prolific contributor to public life his last article for The Telegraph was published on December 7.

Earlier this year, he called for exams to be replaced by continuous assessment.

Lord Leigh of Hurley, a long-standing senior treasurer of the Conservative party, told The Telegraph: "David Young was a role model for generations of Conservatives. Margaret Thatcher famously said other people bring me problems, David brings me solutions.

"Such was his effectiveness decades later David Cameron invited him back to government to assist in helping businesses grow and in particular the tech sector where even in his 90s he was active. "He never sought a salary but was proud to serve his country when asked."

Originally a lawyer, David Young led a number of businesses in the UK and abroad, including Cable and Wireless and dedicated an enormous amount of his time and energy to philanthropic causes.

Sometimes referred to as a favourite of Mrs Thatcher, Lord Young began his rise through politics as chairman of the manpower services commission and was appointed to the Lords in 1984.

Lord Young was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the 2015 New Year Honours. He retired from the Lords earlier this year.

Lord Leigh added: "Lord Young was always proud of his Jewish heritage, and widely regarded for many years as the leader of the Jewish lay community.

"He was a devoted family man married to Lita throughout who survives him together with daughters Karen Judith and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was expressing his  views on all manner of geopolitical matters for the benefit of others right up to his last days."