The Rt. Hon. Francis Maude MP was appointed to the board of directors of Huntsworth in May 2005, following the merger with Incepta Group plc. He is chairman of the Nominations Committee. He is currently chairman of Prestbury Holdings plc, deputy chairman of Benfield Group Limited, chairman of the Jubilee Investment Trust plc and has been non executive chairman of Incepta Group plc since 2004. From 1992 to 1999, he was a non executive director of Asda Group; and Gartmore Shared Equity Trust from 1997 to 1999. From 1992 to 1993, he was director of Salomon Brothers and a managing director of Morgan Stanley & Co Limited from 1993 to 1997.
A barrister by training, Francis was first elected to Parliament in 1983 as MP for North Warwickshire and from 1987 to 1992 was successively Minister for Corporate and Consumer Affairs at the DTI, Minister of State at the Foreign Office and Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Following the 1997 election, he was Shadow Secretary for Media, Culture and Sport from 1997 to 1998, Shadow Chancellor from 1998 to 2000 and Shadow Foreign Secretary from 2000 to 2001. In 2001, Maude also was Michael Portillo's campaign manager for the Conservative Party's leadership. He is currently the chairman of the Conservative Party and Member of Parliament for Horsham.
- Conservative Party chairman Francis Maude is in charge of the Tory dressing up box and the driving force behind David Cameron’s costume change. Maude’s career shows the links between the old Tory reaction and the new Conservative confection. Maude hands out the new touchy feely Tory costumes now but he was an old-fashioned minister back in the days when the Conservatives were in government.
- Thatcher gave him a junior foreign office post, where his first big success was organising the forcible repatriation of Vietnamese ‘boat people’ from Hong Kong. In 1989, he got riot police to force the Vietnamese refugees back to the ‘red’ country they had fled, while the Thatcher government continued to shout about ‘freedom’ and proclaim its opposition to totalitarian communism.
- As a Treasury minister in John Major’s government, Maude was a top privatiser. Major says that in 1991 Maude ran ‘a series of head-to-head meetings, or bilaterals, with departmental ministers in which he would challenge them on their plans for privatisation, competition and contracting out’. The electorate kicked Maude out of parliament in 1992, so he took a job as head of privatisation at Morgan Stanley bank, which profited from these same policies.
- Maude was re-elected in 1997 and rebranded himself a ‘moderniser’. In 2003 he signed the letter that brought an end to Iain Duncan Smith’s leadership of the party. While Duncan Smith was too Neanderthal for Maude, he was happy to be party chairman when the equally right wing but less stupid Michael Howard led the Tories.
- Maude also launched a think tank, called C-Change, to promote Tory ‘modernisation’. It is the sister organisation of Policy Exchange, David Cameron’s favourite think-tank, which Maude set up with Archie Norman in 2002.
- C-Change shows how the Conservative milieu has changed. Dougie Smith, one of the leading lights of Maude’s think tank also organised ‘fever parties’, upmarket orgies for the adventurous yuppie. The revelation caused some embarrassment, but not much: these new generation Tory swingers showed that the Tories have moved on, morally – although not that much. While Maude stood by sex-party Smith, he recently assured local Tory associations that he would not impose ‘mincing metrosexual’ candidates on ‘gritty northern’ seats.
- Maude has given up some bigotries, but he has not moved on economically. Rather than moving to the left, he hopes to benefit from Labour’s move to the right. Maude praised Blair’s politics, saying, ‘One of the great achievements of New Labour is to take class out of politics.’
- Maude’s strategy is to give his party a makeover to remove its obviously reactionary twitches. Take out the obvious prejudice but leave the basic politics intact. Maude believes Labour’s business-friendly approach means the Conservatives cannot be challenged for championing the rich and powerful.
- In his keynote speech setting out the Conservative agenda to parliament, Maude admitted that the public thought Tory plans for privatisation were ‘aimed at enriching sinister business interests’. Because the public looked at ‘commercial providers’ in the NHS with suspicion, the plan to hand over the welfare state to big business ‘is unlikely to be achieved by one party working alone’.
- However, Maude was pleased to admit that Labour MPs ‘such as Alan Milburn and Stephen Byers … are willing to argue publicly’ for privatisation. While the old Tories, like Iain Duncan Smith, reacted to Labour’s shift rightwards by trying to find even more reactionary policies to distinguish themselves, the modernisers simply welcome Blairism and hope to take over the job when Blair goes.
- Maude certainly puts business first. Until earlier this year he was chairman of a PR Firm, called Incepta. Maude was not worried that one of its subsidiaries, Citigate, donated thousands of pounds to the Labour Party: Citigate represented privatisers like Group 4, so Maude’s firm needed to pay cash to the governing party to represent its clients. Business trumps politics.
- Maude has helped run Cameron’s modernising campaign, like the Tory leader’s recent speech claiming he would put ‘commercial responsibility before profits’, and castigating sweety makers for adding to Britain’s obesity crisis. While Cameron takes on the chocolate oranges, Frances Maude is chairman of the Mission Marketing Group. Maude’s new company is an ad agency whose clients include Walkers Crisps and Virgin Cola.